This sustainable fashion brand is empowering the refugee community

Emerald Pellot

Adiff founder Angela Luna wanted to address the Syrian refugee crisis using her creativity and design skills. That’s how she came to launch her sustainable fashion brand, which aims to empower global refugees.

Luna, a graduate of New York’s Parsons School of Design, created Adiff to upcycle waste byproducts from the crisis, employ refugees and make items with displaced people in mind. In 2017, Adiff unveiled its first collection, which it created with discarded UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency) tents. 

“These tents can only be lived in for anywhere between five and seven years. But they last in landfills for up to 1,000 years,” Luna told Into The Know. So I end up turning those into backpacks and cross-body bags, reflective jackets, reflective hats, that are all about visibility and being able to be seen and be safe.”

Adiff takes a comprehensive approach to the crisis. Not only does the company reuse rubbish from the humanitarian crisis, but it also employs resettled refugees in its manufacturing facilities in Greece. For every Adiff item purchased, another is donated to a displaced person as survival gear. This all-encompassing sustainability is a part of the brand’s ethos.

“Sustainability has always kind of been at the forefront of our brand since we launched,” Luna said. “I always try to think from the inception of when we design a garment, how can we be using waste materials or materials that are already out there — already, you know, being used and then discarded — how can we extend the life of those pieces and bring them back into the beginning of the cycle and basically give it a new life?”

One such piece is an Adiff bestseller. The Adiff trench, made from recycled materials, is a lightweight jacket that looks trendy and fashionable — but with the insertion of standardized tent poles and a base, it can convert into a tent. Refugees around the world often face homelessness even after receiving asylum, so for a refugee, a coat-turned-tent can be a new lifeline. 

Adiff hopes to bring greater awareness to the connection between climate change and refugees, as Luna notes that climate change-related disasters have already begun to displace communities around the globe.

“There is this link between climate change and the refugee crisis that people haven’t really been paying attention to,” Luna told Into The Know. “But it’s really important as a designer within this space, to acknowledge the connection between those two things and how creating anything that is in any way unsustainable is going to further increase the amount of people who are refugees.” 

If you liked this post, check out these 10 sustainable beauty brands that are helping make the world a better place.

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