Roni Helou recently won the inaugural ready-to-wear prize granted by the Fashion Trust Arabia, meaning an exclusive collaboration with Matches Fashion is in the pipeline for the Lebanese designer. So if you didn’t know about Roni and his eponymous sustainable fashion brand already, now is the time to be in the know.
A&E interviews Lebanese fashion designer Roni Helou
The ready-to-wear designer began his career in fashion after graduating from Creative Space Beirut design institution. And Roni Helou soon made a name for himself in the Arab fashion world, and he’s about to take his label across the world thanks to an upcoming project with matchesfashion.com.
And that’s all thanks to the Fashion Trust Arabia (FTA) awarding him a prize for his ready-to-wear collection. Roni joined four other Lebanese designers who were awarded from the institute – Salim Azzam who was also awarded for his ready-to-wear collection, Krikor Jabotian who won the evening-wear prize and the Mukhi Sisters whose jewellery label was awarded.
What makes Helou stand out, however, is his incorporation of sustainability in his label. His most recent collection was made entirely using sustainable fabrics, addressing one of the most pressing issues within the fashion industry today. In particular, he brings attention to the rubbish crisis in Lebanon in both the collection and the unusual styling shoots.
Speaking to A&E, the innovator opened up about his philosophy and mission with the label.
A&E Interviews Designer Roni Helou
You were recently awarded by the Fashion Trust Arabia. How did that feel?
The entire Fashion Trust Arabia experience was very rewarding. It felt amazing to see so many distinguished fashion personalities acknowledge and appreciate my work. Meeting these people was definitely surreal.
How has it changed your business already?
The prize money is definitely going to help me expand and sustain the Roni Helou brand. Some of the people I had the opportunity to meet are still in contact with me, and they’ve been kind enough to put me in touch with more renowned people within the fashion industry. I’m also going to be travelling to New York with FTA – which is another amazing opportunity for me in itself. I’ll also be partaking in Paris Fashion Week this September, and hopefully, this will allow me to introduce the Roni Helou brand to additional markets.
Can you tell us anything about your collaboration with matchesfashion yet?
There’s nothing set just yet!
Talks us through Roni Helou’s unique philosophy.
I believe in leaving a positive impact on everything around us and in everything we do. I’m trying to build a brand that helps the artisans, suppliers, community and environment around me by way of eco-friendly and socially conscious clothing.
How is sustainability important to you as a brand and an individual?
I consider myself to be a serious environmentalist as well as a human and animal rights activist. Ultimately, the environment is my main concern and it’s important for my brand to reflect this and my values as a designer. Because of this, I decided to try and tackle (or even solve) environmental issues caused by the industry from the outset.
When was the moment realised just how important it is?
I’ve always known the importance of sustainability. I’ve tried to be careful in both my personal and professional life when it comes to leaving environmental footprints behind, but it wasn’t until I took the International Fashion Showcase program that I realized the significance of the brand as a platform for raising awareness. I decided I needed to be transparent about it, regardless of what others might think about such a move.
What is the key change you’d like to see in the industry?
I would like to see all brands become sustainable. It would really be something to see sustainable fashion become the norm, and no longer considered different or unusual.
Tell us how your love for fashion began?
My love for fashion started at a very early stage in my life. I was always fascinated by textures and styling – my aunt were seamstresses which allowed me to hone my passion and develop my technique before turning it into a career.
Who has been your biggest industry inspirations?
I’m a big fan of Maison Margiela’s founder, Martin Margiela. I have a great deal of respect for his philosophy and perception of both fashion and design.
What’s your biggest career achievement?
Winning the ready-to-wear prize at FTA is my biggest career achievement so far. I’m grateful for being provided with such a prominent platform to explain the significance of sustainability, inclusivity and respecting animal rights within the fashion industry.
What do you still want to achieve?
I would like the brand to expand and grow enough to be able to help more of the community that surrounds it. In particular, Creative Space Beirut – the free fashion design school I attended for three years.
Visit www.ronihelou.com for more.