25th September 2020
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This Is How You Can Help Beirut’s Fashion Industry
A group of industry professionals has joined forces to benefit Beirut's independent artists.

It’s been over three weeks since the Beirut explosion, when 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which had been stored for six years, erupted at the Port of Beirut. The tragedy was measured as one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history that has cost more than 200 lives, injuring 5,000 and leaving an estimated 300,000 homeless. Rescue teams continue to identify victims and search for those who remain missing. The devastation, a result of government negligence, has come during an increasingly difficult period for Lebanese nationals. Since October, thousands of Lebanese began taking the streets, triggering a popular uprising against systemic corruption.
The peaceful protests continued for over 200 days, as the economy continued to collapse with an 80% loss of the local currency, surges in unemployment, and the outbreak of COVID-19. Today their demands for the entire government to step down remain the same, further fueled by rage and heartbreak. The damage reduced nearly half the capital to rubble, including creative-hub neighborhoods such as Mar Mikhael, Gemmayzeh, and Saifi Village, home to talented artists contributing to Beirut’s cultural vitality. Designers and creatives saw their life work, studios, and workshops
completely vanish.
Founder of slow-fashion label Emergency Room Eric Ritter was in his boutique in Mar Mikhael, just a kilometer away from the Port during the blast. “The whole street was devasted. It was chaos, and no one knew what was happening,” Ritter says. He stepped outside to head home, barely recognizing his neighborhood, only to realize his home was also destroyed. “We all just need reassurance now. I need a sign that I’m going to rebuild, and that this time it will be better. I don’t want to give up. No one wants to give up.”

Emerging talent Yassmin Saleh, whose store first opened in April 2018, found her place in tatters. “Everything was completely destroyed,” says Saleh. Interiors caved in, glass had blown out, and much of the new collection on display had been damaged. “We have to fix everything … Some pieces are no longer sellable, but we can upcycle certain fabrics.” Thankfully they happened to leave early that evening but returned to a demolished atelier. “We’re going to come back from this even stronger,” says Saleh. “It might be slow, but we won’t let this affect us more than it already has.”

As victims of all nationalities cope with current trauma, the Lebanese turn their pain into collective action. A group of industry professionals has joined forces to launch the crowd-funding campaign, United for Lebanese Creatives. Supported by the unified aims of Starch Foundation, Slow Factory Foundation, Foundation Saradar, Bureau Des Createurs, Maison Pyramide, Faux Consultancy, and Roni Helou, the fundraiser will benefit Beirut’s independent artists whose damages amount to over $850,000.

Phase 1 of crowd-funding will be allocated to The Superfund, a global fundraiser by Slow Factory Foundation that was originally scheduled to launch in September to support individuals working at the intersection of human rights and environmental justice in the US and abroad. Following the aftermath of the Beirut explosion, the team had decided to accelerate the launch in order to provide urgent relief to the creative community. “This fundraiser isn’t just about supporting these individuals to build back their ateliers, it will support everybody in the creative ecosystem involved in these businesses,” says Celine Semaan, Founder, and Executive Director of Slow Factory Foundation.

The collective felt an urgent appeal to support Lebanon’s fashion industry as it serves a critical role in the country’s cultural value and economy. Behind damaged storefronts and ateliers, designers also face drawbacks to their manufacturing, affecting hundreds of jobs for tailors, artisans, and jewelers, to name a few. “The Super Fund aims to provide sustainable financial relief to allow the Lebanese people to rebuild their businesses and livelihoods and create lasting impact by investing in regenerative networks,” says Semaan. “We can preserve this industry by buying from Lebanese designers, promoting Lebanese designers, supporting them, and championing them.” Long-term goals of the 5-year fundraiser also include supporting the elderly, migrant workers, LGBTQIA+ and marginalized communities, education, and health sectors.

“After this tragedy, the Lebanese youth can finally reclaim our country and build it the way we know it should be,” says designer Roni Helou. “It’s only by standing together.” Time and time again, the Lebanese have had to rebuild. With help from within and all its supporters, Beirut will rise again.

Phase 1 will be supporting 39 designers and creatives including Alexandra Hakim, Atelier Nawbar, Aura by Carolina, Azzi And Osta, Hussein Bazaza, Boyfriend The Brand, Bureau Des Créateurs, Cynthia Raffoul, David/Nicolas, Diane Ferjane, Daniele Kiridjian, Emergency Room, Georges Saadé Maison de Couture, Gray Gardens Studio, Hass Idriss, Jessica K, Krikor Jabotian, Lara Khoury, Larishka, La Terre Est Folle, Margherita, Mariane Bechara, Mellow, Missak Hajavedikian, Mira Hayek, Mukhi Sisters, Passe Ta Gomme, Roni Helou, Sandra Mansour, Sara Melki, Sara Mrad, Sarah’s Bag, Sayyar Garibe, Stephanie Mousallem, Timi Hayek, The Slow, Thym, Urban Sense By Boutique Hub, Vanina, and Yassmin Saleh.

For online donations, visit the link:
https://slowfactory.foundation/superfund

This Is How You Can Help Beirut’s Fashion Industry
A group of industry professionals has joined forces to benefit Beirut's independent artists.

It’s been over three weeks since the Beirut explosion, when 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which had been stored for six years, erupted at the Port of Beirut. The tragedy was measured as one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history that has cost more than 200 lives, injuring 5,000 and leaving an estimated 300,000 homeless. Rescue teams continue to identify victims and search for those who remain missing. The devastation, a result of government negligence, has come during an increasingly difficult period for Lebanese nationals. Since October, thousands of Lebanese began taking the streets, triggering a popular uprising against systemic corruption.
The peaceful protests continued for over 200 days, as the economy continued to collapse with an 80% loss of the local currency, surges in unemployment, and the outbreak of COVID-19. Today their demands for the entire government to step down remain the same, further fueled by rage and heartbreak. The damage reduced nearly half the capital to rubble, including creative-hub neighborhoods such as Mar Mikhael, Gemmayzeh, and Saifi Village, home to talented artists contributing to Beirut’s cultural vitality. Designers and creatives saw their life work, studios, and workshops
completely vanish.
Founder of slow-fashion label Emergency Room Eric Ritter was in his boutique in Mar Mikhael, just a kilometer away from the Port during the blast. “The whole street was devasted. It was chaos, and no one knew what was happening,” Ritter says. He stepped outside to head home, barely recognizing his neighborhood, only to realize his home was also destroyed. “We all just need reassurance now. I need a sign that I’m going to rebuild, and that this time it will be better. I don’t want to give up. No one wants to give up.”

Emerging talent Yassmin Saleh, whose store first opened in April 2018, found her place in tatters. “Everything was completely destroyed,” says Saleh. Interiors caved in, glass had blown out, and much of the new collection on display had been damaged. “We have to fix everything … Some pieces are no longer sellable, but we can upcycle certain fabrics.” Thankfully they happened to leave early that evening but returned to a demolished atelier. “We’re going to come back from this even stronger,” says Saleh. “It might be slow, but we won’t let this affect us more than it already has.”

As victims of all nationalities cope with current trauma, the Lebanese turn their pain into collective action. A group of industry professionals has joined forces to launch the crowd-funding campaign, United for Lebanese Creatives. Supported by the unified aims of Starch Foundation, Slow Factory Foundation, Foundation Saradar, Bureau Des Createurs, Maison Pyramide, Faux Consultancy, and Roni Helou, the fundraiser will benefit Beirut’s independent artists whose damages amount to over $850,000.

Phase 1 of crowd-funding will be allocated to The Superfund, a global fundraiser by Slow Factory Foundation that was originally scheduled to launch in September to support individuals working at the intersection of human rights and environmental justice in the US and abroad. Following the aftermath of the Beirut explosion, the team had decided to accelerate the launch in order to provide urgent relief to the creative community. “This fundraiser isn’t just about supporting these individuals to build back their ateliers, it will support everybody in the creative ecosystem involved in these businesses,” says Celine Semaan, Founder, and Executive Director of Slow Factory Foundation.

The collective felt an urgent appeal to support Lebanon’s fashion industry as it serves a critical role in the country’s cultural value and economy. Behind damaged storefronts and ateliers, designers also face drawbacks to their manufacturing, affecting hundreds of jobs for tailors, artisans, and jewelers, to name a few. “The Super Fund aims to provide sustainable financial relief to allow the Lebanese people to rebuild their businesses and livelihoods and create lasting impact by investing in regenerative networks,” says Semaan. “We can preserve this industry by buying from Lebanese designers, promoting Lebanese designers, supporting them, and championing them.” Long-term goals of the 5-year fundraiser also include supporting the elderly, migrant workers, LGBTQIA+ and marginalized communities, education, and health sectors.

“After this tragedy, the Lebanese youth can finally reclaim our country and build it the way we know it should be,” says designer Roni Helou. “It’s only by standing together.” Time and time again, the Lebanese have had to rebuild. With help from within and all its supporters, Beirut will rise again.

Phase 1 will be supporting 39 designers and creatives including Alexandra Hakim, Atelier Nawbar, Aura by Carolina, Azzi And Osta, Hussein Bazaza, Boyfriend The Brand, Bureau Des Créateurs, Cynthia Raffoul, David/Nicolas, Diane Ferjane, Daniele Kiridjian, Emergency Room, Georges Saadé Maison de Couture, Gray Gardens Studio, Hass Idriss, Jessica K, Krikor Jabotian, Lara Khoury, Larishka, La Terre Est Folle, Margherita, Mariane Bechara, Mellow, Missak Hajavedikian, Mira Hayek, Mukhi Sisters, Passe Ta Gomme, Roni Helou, Sandra Mansour, Sara Melki, Sara Mrad, Sarah’s Bag, Sayyar Garibe, Stephanie Mousallem, Timi Hayek, The Slow, Thym, Urban Sense By Boutique Hub, Vanina, and Yassmin Saleh.

For online donations, visit the link:
https://slowfactory.foundation/superfund

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