13 June 2021

Alumna’s Efforts Are a Lesson to Take Clothing Waste Seriously

Through her own brand, Amna Al-Misned shows us how sustainable fashion is possible.

‘If people are willing to spend money on conserving their homes, heirlooms and artwork, why wouldn’t they do the same for their clothes?’ – it’s a question that prompted Amna Al-Misned, a Class of 2017 Fashion Design graduate from VCUarts Qatar to pioneer a service that combines her fashion design skills, with her steadfast commitment to raise awareness on sustainability in fashion, in the community.

Unlike most design students, Al-Misned started her own brand of ready-to-wear clothes before she joined VCUarts Qatar. However, stepping out of university with a better appreciation of sustainable fashion, and back into the commercial aspects of designing and producing clothes including abayas, made Al-Misned pause, and reconsider her options.

“When I initially started my brand – Terzi – with bespoke pieces tailored using expensive material, I realized that customers were willing to spend on a design they loved,” says Al-Misned. “Yet with time, and after my university studies, I was appalled at the sheer volume of cut-offs that were being thrown away. As someone who believes in sustainable fashion, I realized I couldn’t pretend I didn’t know this. I decided to do something about it.”

Al-Misned started out by saving each and every piece of cut-off material. Once she had enough, she started experimenting with designs for accessories made out of these cut-offs. For a start, she started handing out samples of such cut-off-based accessories to her family and friends.

An opportunity to display her repurposed collection in public came around when she took part in ‘Unwasted’, an event organized by a group of female designers, artists and activists to raise awareness of the sheer amount of clothing and textiles that end up in waste fill, in most communities. At ‘Unwasted’, Al-Misned exhibited a capsule collection of abayas, ready-to-wear garments, and accessories that she had fashioned out of cut-offs.

As her brand Terzi acquired a steady base of customers, Al-Misned took the next step in her drive for sustainability – offering to repair and redesign the expensive abayas that her customers had purchased from her.

“Fashions change, and wear-and-tear happens – so it’s only natural that customers would want to buy new clothes,” she explains. “This made me wonder if I could help them out by offering to make minor changes to their existing pieces, refreshing the look and feel in the process. And repair minor damages as well.”

Al-Misned says that she was pleasantly surprised and encouraged at the positive response. So much so that recently, she officially made the service a part of her brand. Today, operating from a studio in Doha, Al-Misned and her small team help customers increase the longevity of the clothes they love, and tailor clothes from cut-offs, while creatively turning accessories into ready-to-wear clothes.

“Recently, we repurposed a box-full of tote bags – that were meant for an event that got cancelled – into shirts,” says Al-Misnded. “These were part of the capsule collection at ‘Unwasted’ as well. We even used the handles of the tote bags, incorporating them into the design as a fashion statement.”

Al-Misned says that the local community is increasingly becoming aware of the need to make sustainable practices and outcomes a part of daily life, especially in the realm of fashion. And, she points to the role of young designers in this.

“As a fashion designer and creative director of a womenswear and lifestyle brand, and as a global citizen, I feel that it is my responsibility to unlearn and learn everyday ways in which I can contribute to sustainable fashion, and to always be conscious and ethical,” says the VCUarts Qatar alumna. “It is not easy, but I am determined, and slowly but surely I am incorporating this as a significant part of the vision and mission of my brand.”

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