BEIRUT – Producing a sustainable fashion that tends to the environment combined with couture that attracts people of all ages, races and backgrounds is the fulcrum of the Emergency Room fashion brand created by the Franco-Lebanese designer Eric Ritter.
The brand name, which uses the founder's initials, emphasizes the urgent need to move from polluting and harmful mass production of fast fashion to a sustainable and ethical alternative to clothing creation, said Ritter.
"It's a global trend," he said. "In different parts of the world there are people who recognize the importance of doing fashion differently, especially when you read the amount of pollution created by the production of clothes and feel how fast fashion treats workers, you realize that you don't you can build a brand the same way everything is done right now. "
After graduating in fashion design at Esmod in Beirut, Ritter, 25, worked with famous Lebanese and French designers in Beirut and Paris.
"But I wasn't happy because I thought I wouldn't make any difference and I didn't want to launch my brand without finding something special to say," he said.
Working with an NGO in northern Lebanon that trained disadvantaged women in sewing, knitting and embroidery helped Ritter create a clothing brand with his own mind.
"I discovered the old souks of Tripoli where there are many used fabric stores and many skilled artisans struggling to find work. I also discovered fabric stores that have many old stocks that don't really sell. I thought something could be done with what's available and we decided to launch a new brand that would try to be sustainable, "said Ritter.
The emergency room uses exclusive vintage fabrics and out-of-stock fabrics, including curtains, sheets, mattresses and used clothing of local origin to create unique pieces that offer a customary and authentic prêt-à-porter line.
All items are produced in local laboratories and cooperatives that give qualified local artisans the opportunity to take part in the process.
"Use these fabrics, deconstruct them and rebuild them into new garments, create truly unique pieces and designs," said Ritter.
A year after introducing the brand during which he sold through pop-up stores, Ritter opened a first-aid boutique in Beirut's trendy Mar Mikhael district, showing a colorful summer collection.
Lime green, purple and pink are some of the bright colors used in the collection inspired by an eclectic mix of outfits such as the Japanese kimono, Spanish matador jackets and European trenches.
A Ritter photoshoot campaign launched together with the debut of the boutique, portrayed a large cast of models that, he said, represent the large mix of cultures present in Beirut.
"We have had 25 models of different ages, body types, sex, sexual religions and skin colors. We have tried to have a person who represents a category of people that you can find in Beirut. Altogether they represent the entire community. "In terms of age, I had my grandmother's modeling. She's almost 80 years old," Ritter said.
When people hesitate to buy sustainable fashion, Ritter makes the double effort, telling the whole story behind.
"We explain the fashion industry and the damage caused by fast fashion," he said. "It's very complicated because we have treated fashion over the last two decades as disposable, forgetting that clothes are not consumable. These are things we buy and stay with us until we eventually end up throwing them and staying on Earth forever. slow down the entire process. "
Ritter used the event inaugurating his boutique to make a fashion statement. Participants were asked to choose any second-hand garment from a shopping cart, grab the scissors and cut it in any way.
"The idea was that with whatever they would cut we will use it to create fashion. It was a way to awaken everyone to the fact that it is OK to use old pieces and rough them and that everyone can be part of the design process, that accidents will create beautiful pieces at the end of the day, "said Ritter.