DUBAI: In the regional fashion industry, a handful of brands and organizations have been putting forth new initiatives that aim to give back to the community. Notably, The Giving Movement, an athleisure brand founded by Dominic Nowell-Barnes in Dubai in 2020, donates $4 of each sale to charity.
Since its inception, the sustainable label has quickly gone on to become a staple in the wardrobes of social media influencers across the region and was picked up by several e-retailers such as Ounass and Sivvi. But perhaps, its biggest accomplishment to date is raising over $1,000,000 in donations for local charities Dubai Cares and Harmony House India.
“The most important thing when I set out to do this project was just around feeling like we’ve done something good for the world,” Nowell-Barnes told Arab News.
“So when I started The Giving Movement, it was all about trying to find fulfillment and to feel that maybe in five, 10 years, when I looked back at where I’ve put my time and energy, it’s had a positive impact.”
The designer’s goal was to partner with charities that look after the basic needs of the less-fortunate, which is why he chose to partner with Dubai Cares and Harmony House India.
“Dubai Cares is predominantly focused on education, so the idea is that if you can educate people then they have the ability to get jobs and make a better future for themselves, as opposed to maybe just giving them a meal here or there. And then with Harmony House, they focus on the kind of immediate needs of providing food and shelter, and then ultimately education,” explains the designer.
The concept of giving back is very important and personal to Nowell-Barnes.
“Growing up in the north of England, I got to see very different types of lives. You can be walking down one street and there will be a guy driving a Ferrari, and the next minute you can be walking down a street where there’s people living on the sidewalk. This was my earliest recollection of feeling like life can be unfair to people,” he reflects.
“Therefore, I chose these charities because there are people who have just been dealt a bad hand so I want to spend the rest of my life supporting these people,” he added.
Harmony House currently looks after 700 disadvantaged children. The money raised by The Giving Movement will help provide food and shelter for these kids, in addition to providing the materials required to educate children with Dubai Cares.
Nowell-Barnes launched his genderless label in April 2020, after slowly losing interest in his 9-5 e-commerce job.
Despite launching in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic — during the lockdown in Dubai when residents needed a police permit to leave their homes to go grocery shopping or run errands — the made-in-UAE brand was met with immediate success, which Nowell-Barnes attributes to people wearing activewear and loungewear more than ever as they were going out less and spending more time indoors.
In addition to its charitable aspect, the brand is sustainable too.
The Giving Movement only utilizes fabric that is either certified recycled or organic as well as low-impact dyes. Eventually, the brand wants to move into circularity by launching some sort of initiative to collect garments from customers once they have used them and rather than them throwing them away, the brand can send them to be recycled or reused.
“I want to make sure that what I am doing is not only good for other people, but also good for the planet,” concludes Nowell-Barnes.