Lebanese designers struggle to rebuild their brands following triple crisis

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By Euronews

Lebanon’s fashion industry is currently enduring a triple crisis. The current economic recession is the worst in the country’s history, COVID-19 has decimated sales and August’s port explosion has destroyed many outlets.

To support the sector, a global crowdfunding campaign called “United for Lebanese Creatives” was established.

The initiative identified & raised funds for more than 30 Lebanese designers & artists, many of them with ateliers & shops destroyed.

Collection collateral

Twenty-eight-year-old Lebanese designer, Roni Helou, is a recipient of the aid provided by United for Lebanese Creatives.

Helou’s business suffered badly following August’s port explosion, with his atelier, equipment and machinery destroyed. The designer, who did not have insurance, estimates his losses will run to around $15,000.

Roni Helou adjusts his clothing rack

The young creative established his Beirut-based label in 2017, with a focus on sustainability, ethical & local fashion.

His latest menswear collection, due for September release in the UAE, was also lost in the port blast.

The pieces were made from environmentally friendly, discarded fabrics and so-called ‘dead stock’ materials.

The collection took more than a month to construct at a cost of approximately $2,000.

Couturier comeback

Couturiers George Azzi and Assaad Osta are also beneficiaries of the United for Lebanese Creatives fund.

The eco-conscious fashion duo, who set-up their business in 2010, have dressed high-profile individuals such as Sharon Stone and Queen Rania of Jordan.

Their new headquarters, housed within a 3rd century building in Beirut, was demolished in the blast. Also lost was the maison's current collection & clothing back-catalogue.

“The damage was on all levels,” Azzi told Euronews. “Physically, we had 10 injured staff members, and also the collections; embroideries, the library and archives. The damage is no less than $100,000 and it will take no less than one year to reconstruct everything.”

Fashion compassion

George Azzi and Assaad Osta speak to Inspire Middle East

The Lebanese fashion community has the compassion of the international industry at this time.

Which was particularly evident during September’s Milan Fashion Week, where six Lebanese designers were showcased.

They provided videos of their designs for the event’s digital platform, which displayed their collections alongside giants of the industry.

Azzi and Osta were humbled to be a part of the experience, and proud that their label was showcased before such a captive audience.

“It was a great opportunity to be part of Milan Fashion Week,” said Osta. “It helped shed light on the brand. And our spot was scheduled just before the Valentino show, which gave us more visibility and gave us hope and strength to go on and keep on giving.”


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