Sustainable fashion is not a trend; it’s a necessity, says e-commerce platform chief

    05 Dec 2021

    For many, sustainable fashion is an interest or trend. For the founders of the global sustainable e-commerce platform Plain Tiger, it’s a necessity, Arab News states.

    In the middle of the night, Oliver Baillie woke up in his new home in South Africa to find strange men in his house. He began thrashing, worried it was a robbery until his wife, Alexandra Baillie, explained it was the paramedics. He had had a seizure and needed to be taken to the hospital immediately.

    The prognosis wasn’t good; a brain tumor – with no prior symptoms – was the cause. Following surgery and treatment, it led to a year of healing practices for the entrepreneur, who had recently moved to Cape Town after a long career heading international operations at a leading British bank based in Dubai.

    “What I learned is that what’s good for the body is also good for the planet,” said Baillie, the co-founder, and CEO, during the regional soft launch at the Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah in Dubai.

    “A plain tiger is an orange butterfly found in the region, and ‘they’ say seeing one signifies positive change. They kept landing on our conference room window as we were building the business. And so, we named the brand Plain Tiger: A global platform for conscious luxury lifestyle products.”

    The first of its kind, the platform curates leading ethical and sustainable fashion, beauty, and home decor brands worldwide. Many of the 185 brands are exclusively available through Plain Tiger in the Middle East and North Africa and represent the most carefully crafted products from over 20 countries across six continents. These are brands on the rise in cities like Paris, London, Milan, Sydney, and New York.

    “At a time when sustainability has such a strong focus in the region, it’s the perfect time to be launching in MENA,” said Baillie, who now moved back to Dubai with his wife. “Governments like those of the UAE and Saudi Arabia are driving positive change, and businesses are looking to improve their environmental impact.” 

    Last month, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince launched a Middle East Green Initiative, aimed at raising $10.4 billion for an investment fund and clean energy projects to reduce carbon emissions. Meanwhile, the UAE will host the global climate summit COP 28 in 2023. The steps are in place, and brands like Plain Tiger have a real opportunity to make a difference.

    The brand is also launching a sustainability accelerator in the region, inviting local startups to assess their ethical practices at the early stages of building their businesses.

    “Sustainability is a buzzword that can be thrown around, but we have really stringent requirements for brands hosted on our e-commerce platform,” said Baillie.

    When many businesses are still setting strategies to become net-zero, Plain Tiger has already secured a “climate positive” status. Each order made has a positive impact on the environment thanks to Plain Tiger’s three-part strategy: Conscious product curation, minimizing company carbon emissions, and offsetting double the remaining carbon emissions by investing in reforestation projects in Uganda and Brazil through their partnership with leading offset provider Pachama.

    Plain Tiger also has a 70% female team. The featured designers and manufacturers are all selected for their expertise in their craft and commitment to ethical and sustainable practices, often leveraging processes steeped in tradition and indigenous ingredients or materials. Transparency and traceability are essential to Plain Tiger’s ethos.

    “We believe you should know the hands that made your products,” said co-founder and director Alexandra Baillie. Her background in luxury retail includes Estee Lauder, La Mer, and The Four Seasons spas.

    From the packaging to the material, any product purchased on the site promises ethical luxury. Add to that the founders’ passion, and you’ve got powerhouse potential with a lot of heart, too.

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    Plain Tiger Discovers Expo 2020

    After years in the making, Expo 2020 is here. Expo 2020 Dubai takes place from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. This is a space that shows what a green future could be. In the words of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai: “The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it, and execute it.”

    What Plain Tiger is most excited about, is that Expo 2020 Dubai – the first World Expo held in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia – will deliver one of the most eco-friendly world fairs in history. Visitors can expect a curated sustainability-based journey to discover how countries worldwide are emerging as eco-champions.

    Think vertical farming and biodegradable alternatives, sipping coffee from edible cups to converting food waste into gourmet food; curators highlight the increasingly urgent need to build a world based on circular consumption.

    Terra (Latin for “home earth”) – The Sustainability Pavilion will bring to life Expo 2020’s commitment to being a catalyst for change in the UAE, the region and globally, by empowering visitors of all nationalities, ages, and interests to make more conscious choices in their lives. The state-of-the-art pavilion achieved the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum status, making it one of the most sustainable buildings in the world. It is a fully self-sufficient pavilion, generating both its own energy and water. An instantly eye-catching structure, it features a 130-meter wide circular canopy with 1,055 solar panels that 18 Energy Trees surround. The power generated is enough to charge 900,000 cell phones!

    With a series of experiences portraying the innovations to create a greener future, the Sustainability Pavilion is both an eye-opening experience and one brimming with the hope of a brighter future through innovative technology. It’s not just about showcasing the problem; it’s about providing the solution.

    What we love at Plain Tiger is that once the event is over, the Sustainability Pavilion will form part of a science center in District 2020 – a new residential and business development that will evolve from the Expo site.

    Plain Tiger propose us on its site a few not-to-be-missed sustainability-themed attractions:

    • Explore opportunities through a cultural, social, environmental and economic lens with the Program for People and Planet. Join the making of a new world as you engage in conversations around questions that will shape the future of our planet.
    • Visit The Desert Farm. Welcome to the farm of the future, which uses saltwater and fish to grow crops. The Desert Farm makes the most of the three natural resources that are plentiful in the UAE – sun, sea, and sand.
    • From the solar roof to the temperature-buffering entryway, the DEWA Pavilion is designed to maximize efficiency and offers plenty of futuristic touches, such as a drone-delivery hatch and a weight-measuring bathroom floor.
    • The Expo site includes a 220,000 square meters nursery behind the cultivation of more than 12,000 trees, including palms, more than 256,000 shrubs and thousands of flowering plants and herbs.

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    By the end of 2022, the brands Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, and Yves Saint Laurent will completely abandon the use of fur in their collections. More and more fashion houses of companies abandon the non-ecological and inhumane production of clothes. Why does this happens? Read here!

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