BEIRUT: Sustainability has become a buzzword in the fashion industry as of late. Due to the environmental impact of fast fashion, labels across the world — and in the Middle East — are trying their best to be more sustainable by using eco-friendly fabrics and cutting their number of collections they release per year.
However, Lebanese designer Erique Ritter, founder of streetwear brand Emergency Room, has a different strategy — and he’s calling for sweeping change in the fashion world.
The creative talent starts his design process by exploring the available materials in the market, rather than starting with a design and ordering custom materials.
“We go to the souk, we look at what we have and then we start our design process. It is not the other way round,” he told Arab News.
His creations are all made in Lebanon and mostly in Tripoli, a city in the northern area of the country.
“In Tripoli, there is the ‘beileh’ which is basically streets that are filled with thrift stores of second-hand clothes,” he said. “So, what we do is that we just go there, and they are always packed with things, packed with clothes, so we see what is available. If we see that there is a lot of jeans we are going to buy a whole bunch of jeans and start cutting and use jeans to make jackets.
“At the end of the day, we are working with the resources we have. We are not trying to import, or to generate or create new materials. So, we focus on what is available – like a chef in a restaurant,” he explained.
Ritter launched his brand, mostly focused on upcycling, around three years ago.
He named it Emergency Room because “it started with the idea or the feeling that there was an emergency in fashion,” the designer said.
“We decided to call it Emergency Room because we were going to truly do things in a way that is environmentally friendly, that is ethical and that is respectful of the environment,” Ritter added.
There is a lot of handwork involved in the creation process, which is why a lot of pieces also have raw or untailored edges.
“We really need to change and think of everything and change the way we do things,” he urged fashion lovers and designers.