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Eco-fashion offers a renaissance for new Tunisian brands

November 09, 2020 00:00:00

MAHDIA (Tunisia), Nov 08 (AP): The sun is setting by the time Tunisian fashion designer Chems Eddine Mechri reaches the breezy, seaside town of Mahdia. He has spent half the day driving in the scorching heat in pursuit of the precious, handmade fabrics he needs for his upcoming winter collection.

With a 200-kilometer ( 125-mile) road trip from Tunis coming to an end, the designer knows just the place: the basement of a blue-lit workshop, hidden away in the labyrinth of Mahdia's old medina, where silk weaver Mohamed Ismail's spinning wheel still is going at full speed.

In a globalized world dominated by fast fashion brands such as Zara, H&M and Topshop, Tunisian designers like Mechri are increasingly going back to their roots, embracing local artisans and environmentally conscious materials. Thanks to North African nation's age-old textile-making traditions, Tunisia is a good fit for the eco-fashion they want to champion.

Ismail has been spinning locally sourced wool and cotton, as well as silk thread imported from China, for the last 47 years. "This work is in our blood…it's in our DNA," Ismail says as he unwinds a crimson silk yarn in his workshop. "It's intergenerational, and for my family, this work is very precious to us."

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