JEDDAH: A recent trend in global fashion has been an attempt to make the industry more environmentally friendly and sustainable. As a result, some designers have been inspired to create ready-to-wear clothing from recycled materials.
One of them is Saudi fashion designer Raneem Shaban from Jeddah. The 27-year-old launched her own custom-clothing label R*3 in 2021 with the aim of reducing “fashion waste” in the Kingdom’s fashion industry through upcycled and reconstructed creations that transform used or vintage clothing into something new.
“At first, I was worried that people wouldn’t accept the idea of wearing something that has been created mainly from used fabric or material but the mentality has changed and people are more adaptable,” she said.
Shaban, who graduated from Dar Al-Hekma University in Jeddah with a bachelor’s degree in fashion design, said she developed a fascination with creating clothes in early childhood.
“From a very young age, I had a passion to design clothes from the used materials that I found in my basement and one of my biggest joys was going through my mother’s wardrobe, which influenced me immensely toward a classic sense of style,” she said.
Shaban’s bold and daring designs are designed to be unique, challenging for the masses, and attention grabbing.
“As a designer, I believe it’s very essential to get out of your comfort zone and make a statement, for which I worked hard to reach out to people and make them understand the fashion-forward trend,” she said.
I was worried people wouldn’t accept the idea of wearing something created mainly from used fabric or material but the mentality has changed.
Raneem Shaban, Saudi fashion designer
Shaban has been involved in a number of projects, including collaborations on runway styling projects and editorial fashion shoots with Harpers Bazaar Arabia and Vogue Fashion Experience by Rubaiyat, and styling Nasibah Hafiz’s spring/summer 2022 collection, powered by La Macarena, among others.
She also participated in Fashion Star Arabia, a fashion-design competitive reality series broadcast on Dubai One. She recently showcased her collection at the Light Exhibition in Riyadh alongside other young, fashion designers.
“A fashion designer has the possibility to influence people and the way they dress; it’s a big responsibility to take the role seriously and be driven,” Shaban said.
“My work journey has been very rewarding. I have had the opportunity to meet distinguished fashion personalities and clients that acknowledged and appreciated my ready-to-wear collection. It feels great when people relate to my collection on a deeper and personal level.”
As part of her design process, Shaban creates fashion “mood boards” from images in old magazines that help to inspire her to create interesting new looks and styling options.
“I didn’t aim to adopt a sustainable approach because it’s ‘on-trend,’” she said. “Instead, I always had a passion for creating styles using recycled fabric or materials and converting it into a brand new, wearable outfit.”
In her role as a sustainable fashion designer, Shaban said she strives to always be mindful of the resources her label consumes and wastes, while at the same time ensuring her designs meet the demands of the marketplace. Feedback from her customers also helps her understand the needs of the market on a range of issues, including the materials and textures of fabric people prefer.
Shaban said she continually learns new things and tries to further explore sustainable materials and fashion trends. She plans to launch a line of accessories alongside her custom-made clothing in the near future.
“It’s important for me to be consistent in designing new collections from used fabrics, while making sure it matches the current fashion trends,” she explained. “The market in Saudi Arabia has changed dramatically and people are more open to bold and narrative style.
“It’s a lot to manage but when you aim to build a unique concept fashion style and receive encouragement for the work. It really makes you feel alive.
“The response to my custom-made designs has always been positive. It pumps the energy and pushes me to work hard and ignore the demands and challenges.”
Shaban said she finds it interesting that people who wear her brand are so aware of the benefits of eco-friendly fashion, and so she considers it her responsibility to help initiate a shift toward a more sustainable industry in the region.
“Under Saudi Vision 2030, I aim to bring more awareness and longevity toward sustainable fashion in the Saudi Arabia marketplace,” she added.
Asked what advice she could offer to aspiring young designers, she said she would encourage them to take time to figure out what it is that they really love and are good at, follow their passion, take risks and enjoy the challenges along the way.