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28 Oct 2015
Beirut, Lebanon
Sustainable Textiles and Clothing

For the founders of Vanina, fashion is not just a way to express yourself through the clothes and accessories you sport — it is also a tool to bring about social and environmental change. The Beirut-based social enterprise crafts upcycled, ecologically-conscious products that bring together the best of traditional craftsmanship, technological innovation, and, of course, style.

Vanina has been exploring the concept of upcycling from the very start. Its first collection in 2007, “Coined” made use of devalued Lebanese lira coins, transforming them into unique pieces of jewelry. Two years later, the “Discard’ed” line saw old CDs turned into jewels; the launch of 2015’s “Leaves” line used 3D printing technology to print shapes using old paper sheets. For the spring/summer 2017 line, belts and bags were constructed from upcycled tin cans.

Sustainable fashion, founders Joanne Hayek and Tatiana Fayad say, is a paradoxical claim. “Fashion is based on seasonal trends, which promote constant renewal of demand, consumption, and therefore waste,” the founders say. “Although based on a capitalist mode of consumption, fashion can, if exploited properly, be a powerful agent of sustainable development.”

Products handcrafted with care and collaboration:

Each of Vanina’s high-end creations is handcrafted in Lebanon by a decentralized team of artisans based across the country. The company collaborates with a series of skilled artisans, mastering the traditional crafting techniques that have been passed from generation to generation. Many of Vanina’s artisans are highlighted on the brand’s website, where they have created a unique video series showcasing their work and personal stories.

The artisans also collaborate with various Lebanese NGOs, including INAASH Association (a Beirut-based NGO focusing on the preservation of Palestinian culture through handicraft) and L’Artisan du Liban. Artisans are able to source their supplies through these under-privileged, rural communities.

Jewelry for social change:

Vanina’s statement jewelry also spreads awareness about imminent social issues. For example, the team collaborated with The Permanent Peace Movement to create a line called “Cease-Fire” where unused matchsticks were used in designs to promote anti-violence in the region. In another case, the “Unlocked” line transformed useless keys into jewelry, inviting cities to keep their doors open, and create a world free of boundaries.

In 2008, Vanina created a foundation called Les Petits Princes de Vanina which aims to finance the education of children in need. It does this through a specific product that is developed and sold during the holiday months.

Vanina’s various lines and products can be found at shops across Europe, the MENA region, and Asia. They also have a flagship store in Beirut, and orders can be processed online. With each purchase, you are getting so much more than a piece of clothing or jewelry — you are contributing to helping the environment.


Photos: Courtesy of Vanina

Vanina Sustainable Textiles & Clothing
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