Interview: RIOT Founders Maya Talih And Tima Hamadeh On Saving The Planet Through Fashion

RIOT Fashion, Sustainable Fashion, Maya Talih and Tima Hamadeh, Maya Talih, Tima Hamadeh
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Left: Mayah Talih & right: Tima Hamadeh
"It’s a movement to revolutionise and alter consumers’ mindsets by disrupting the status quo of high-end consumerism and extending the lifecycle of luxury goods"

More than simply an online fashion destination, online boutique store RIOT was launched out of a need to put circular fashion into the limelight in a bid to encourage consumers to gear up and change the rules of the shopping game. As it so happens, finding and owning vintage designer treasures is not only good for your wardrobe, but for the environment too. We speak to founders Mayah Talih and Tima Hamadeh on how they plan to save the planet, one pre-loved item at a time…

Harper's BAZAAR Arabia: How would you describe the Riot movement?

Maya Talih + Tima Hamadeh: It’s a movement to revolutionise and alter consumers’ mindsets by disrupting the status quo of high-end consumerism and extending the lifecycle of luxury goods. Fashion is one of the top five most polluting industries worldwide and RIOT is adamant about making a change.

HBA: Why do you think 'circular fashion' is so important in 2019?

MT + TH: When you buy or sell preloved, you are saving the entire negative impact of production because the pieces already exist. It extends the life of the preloved item by an average of 2.2 years, reducing its carbon, waste, and water footprint by 73%. That’s why circular fashion is so great – it’s the most direct impact you can have as a consumer when it comes to sustainability.

HBA: Tell us more about your work with Pink Caravan...

MT + TH: In the past we’ve partnered with UNHCR to raise funds for women-led households in refugee camps, and today we’ve partnered with Pink Caravan who work in spreading awareness and raising all forms of support for breast cancer fighters, survivors and their loved ones.

Our RIOT Club dinners spread awareness about the work that Pink Caravan does, and we have also sourced and curated a fabulous collection of preloved pieces for the charity from our network of fabulous philanthropic sellers. We have a special page on our website too, showcasing the collection with all profits from sales of the said pieces going towards Pink Caravan. Breast cancer is a topic that shouldn’t just be talked about during Pinktober, but should be addressed consistently, and that’s what we aim to do.

HBA: What influenced your beliefs in sustainable fashion?

MT + TH: Honestly it was the numbers. When we first started researching and learning about sustainable fashion we were really shocked at the facts. For example, according to World Wild Life, it can take 2,700 liters to produce the cotton needed to make a single t-shirt. These types of facts are difficult facts to unlearn and it soon became impossible for us to turn away from sustainable fashion. So we rolled up our sleeves and started advocating for change and spreading the knowledge.

HBA: Talk us through your daily routine - accessories or fashion first when getting ready?

MT + TH: Our day starts with a workout - for Maya it’s yoga and for Tima it’s Reform Atletica - and for our team workout mornings we always go to Crank! We are a fast growing start up so our days are usually quite intense which means our fashion sense is skewed towards comfort. It’s always about that perfect pair of jeans and the ultimate flats (think Gucci loafers or Golden Goose trainers), hair up in a bun, face moisturized and makeup free, and barely any accessories.

HBA: What's next for Riot?

MT + TH: We are just getting started and have a lot of plans to bring preloved to the front and centre of the fashion scene here in Dubai and in the region at large. From exclusive collections, an even more seamless journey, and a sustainability calculator explaining how your activity on RIOT (whether selling or buying) is impacting the environment, watch this space!


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RIOT Fashion, Sustainable Fashion, Maya Talih and Tima Hamadeh, Maya Talih, Tima Hamadeh
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Left: Mayah Talih & right: Tima Hamadeh