By Zainab AbdulAziz
Farah Lokma is a 26-year-old Egyptian-Syrian creative fashion lover with a mission. Inspired by her stint working as a business development coordinator at the Egyptian Clothing Bank, she initiated ALMAH, a project to make use of the fabric from excess donated clothing by collaborating with designers and brands. ALMAH Recycled Fabrics ALMAH Farah Loma
Most of the commercial clothing donations received by the Egyptian Clothing Bank are not suitable, including the fact that 80% of donated items are women’s clothing, which creates a significant deficit in men’s and children’s clothing. ALMAH was created to generate profits by recycling these excess quality fabrics and clothing items into profit to cover this deficit by funding the production lines of clothing items such as galabeyas, abayas and tracksuits that are truly suitable for the intended cause.
CWM: What has been the most exciting part of building the brand so far? ALMAH Farah Loma
Farah Lokma: I find the entire project extremely exciting; it gives me the opportunity to discover my creative side within a development project. Seeing people’s reaction to ALMAH has also been gratifying, we were initially worried Egyptians weren’t ready to accept the idea of ‘recycled clothing’. But we are very pleased and grateful with the amount of positive support ALMAH has gotten so far.
What is the design and production process like?
Farah Lokma: The process begins by working with the collaborative designers to come up with a theme for a collection. From there, the designer picks out the materials they want to work with from a large range of excess fabric donated to the Egyptian Clothing Bank.
The designer works up some sketches then we filter through and choose our favorite ones. We then make any necessary tweaks to make sure the entire collection represents both ALMAH and the collaborating designer.
How does ALMAH fit into the current fashion scene? Almah Recycled Fabrics
Farah Lokma: The majority of the fashion industry has become what we call “fast fashion” – a couple of decades ago, a brand would release two collections per year, now fast fashion brands release 32 collections on average per year. This type of consumerism comes at a very high price to our environment and for the rights of factory workers.
Most people often think they’re simply just buying affordable clothing, but workers in garment factories in developing countries are paying the price for this cheap clothing. The more conscious you are with your shopping, the more pressure that will put on brands to produce their items sustainably. You can start small by simply investing in higher quality clothes that will last longer in your closet or buying second-hand and recycled clothing.
Tell us more about ALMAH’s profit donations and what the initiative achieves.
Farah Lokma: ALMAH’s profit from each collection will be used to fund new and suitable clothing for the less privileged in Egypt. The reason I chose to work with the Egyptian Clothing Bank is the extreme attention to detail and consideration of the beneficiaries served. The bank ensures that every household on its’ database receives clothing that is suitable to their needs and size.
Providing a less privileged person with a suitable attire isn’t just about putting a smile on their face during festive occasions like Eid. In reality, you’re creating an opportunity for this individual: whether it’s a man who wants to be considered for a better job position, or a woman who wants to finish her secondary education. In many of these cases, the obstacle standing in their way is the lack of suitable attire to aid in their quest for opportunities.
How do you envision ALMAH growing in the future?
Farah Lokma: ALMAH is currently in the process of becoming its own entity. Although it was initially a small project we began under the Egyptian Clothing Bank, the response we received was surprisingly favorable, so we’re turning ALMAH into a social enterprise and aiming to collaborate with more local designers, and hopefully one day international designers.
Find ALMAH on Instagram @almah.official