Meet the fashion disruptor: Dominic Nowell-Barnes of The Giving Movement
Weaving sustainability, charity and donations into commercial platforms.
Dominic Nowell-Barnes is the Founder of The Giving Movement, a UAE-based brand that brings sustainable streetwear to the masses.
Launched during the COVID pandemic, The Giving Movement and has since garnered wide success for its karmic messaging, and an emphasis on sustainability and domestic production.
Dominic shares his favourite quote that ‘small acts multiplied by many can transform the world’, which he has seen come to light through The Giving Movement and its charitable approach to commerce.
FACT sits down with the UK native to find out more.
Tell us about your Dubai journey
Dubai has been home to me for the last five years. I feel that Dubai has a certain energy and buzz that I haven’t experienced anywhere else in the world. It really does feel like the land of opportunity and that here, anything is possible.
The Giving Movement launched in 2020. What was the inspiration behind the brand?
To disrupt an industry and help people in any way we could. It was during COVID-19 that the brand launched, and it felt like a perfect chance for a fresh start in what fashion should look like in 2020. Our business model is to disrupt both how fashion is created and consumed. We believe in creating products locally and sustainably and I felt like the typical “just for profit” business model served little purpose except to make money. I created The Giving Movement to start a movement towards giving back by making it part of everyday life when we buy clothing.
You are the true definition of a homegrown brand with everything sourced locally in the UAE, from supply to production. What does it mean for you to have created a brand in Dubai?
The most rewarding aspect of being a homegrown brand from Dubai is that nobody believed it could be done. When you compare the garment industry in other parts of the world to Dubai, you can see why it would be challenging to setup manufacturing here and still be able to compete with other brands buying from the Far East or Europe. Being a homegrown brand is something that the team and I are proud of. We have also built a loyal Emirati customer base who are equally proud and want to support a homegrown brand like The Giving Movement.
Why conscious consumerism and why now?
There’s this duality happening between society wanting to explore ways of being more sustainable but also enjoying the perks of fast fashion and never-ending choices. The Giving Movement is coming in with collections that provide the same styling versatility and essential pieces with regular drops – but made sustainably. The main issue with producing a large number of styles is the waste product left at the end of each season. We are proud that through data and our unique sourcing and buying approach, we are able to achieve a 95% sell-through of each collection, with the balance going into sale during Ramadan or Green Friday.
Please talk us through the 100% sustainable fabrics you use and why this is so important to you?
Our ready-to-wear collections are all made with fabrics that minimise the impact on the environment, with the compositions ranging from 100% organic to 100% recycled to a mix of both. We’re continuously innovating new fabrics and have developed 20 fabrics since our launch, with more in the lab – our approach is about creating pieces that have a long lifecycle. We also like to listen to the community, recently relaunching the Light Softskin100© for an Active collection with a lightweight design.
You donate $4 to charity with each item sold. Why did you decide to do this? And how do you decide where the money goes?
We believe it’s possible to weave charity and donations into commercial platforms, and we were hoping to make it a part of the business model, experimenting and seeing how realistic it is. Thankfully, we were able to commit $4 per item to charity, an amount that secures basic needs for a child for one week, and with that we’ve managed to cross over $2.5 million in donations. We hope it inspires other businesses to explore a similar business model, and it could ultimately help us end world hunger. We work with two charitable bodies: Dubai Cares and Harmony House India. Both organisations put a lot of focus on child education, with Harmony House India operating three different community centers in needy communities in India, providing education, shelter, medical care, rations, vocational training, and much more. Its’ alumni have gone on to universities, internships, and working to support their families. We really care about transparency, so we release a monthly report via newsletter and Instagram detailing everything that donations have helped achieve each month.
You’ve already surpassed $1 million in donations. What’s the next milestone you’re looking to achieve?
We’re incredibly thankful for the engagement and milestones we’ve reached, all thanks to everyone who has interacted, discussed, shared, and purchased from TGM in the past two and a half years. We’re working towards a movement of giving, meaning that “small acts multiplied by many, can transform the world,” which puts our next milestone at $3 million by the end of this year.
How do you ensure your products are cost-effective for the consumer?
As we manage every part of the production cycle, from sourcing yarns and trims through to the cut and stitching of garments, we have a competitive advantage where we can negotiate each part of the production cycle. We found when you just buy the end-product from suppliers, a lot of profit is built into that for the supplier. Our approach was to manage the whole process ourselves and thus be able to control the cost.
We’ve seen you wearing The Giving Movement. What are your personal favourite pieces?
I would say the 2-in-1 hoodies and T-shirts for their layering and their buttery-soft fabrics. The hoodies are made from organic cotton and are an easy go-to for AC indoors and in winter weather. It’s an upgrade on typical loungewear. The T-shirts, on the other hand, are wide and airy, and we’ve used a technology to weave and brush the recycled polyester in a way to make them incredibly soft to the touch, which is one of my favourite things about it. The movement loves its comfort.
What’s the most popular item at The Giving Movement for customers?
The bestseller is the TGM T-shirt from the Active collection, made from the Light Softskin100© and featuring the classic TGM logo print on the back. The T-shirt is the closet essential for the modern age, so it’s not surprising that it sits at the top, next to the hoodies, joggers, and leggings.
We’ve seen some recent collabs with the likes of YOOX and the introduction of the Middle East’s first sugarcane-based slides. So what’s next for The Giving Movement?
We’re lucky to have an incredible team that leads with creativity. Whether it’s collaborations or new fabrics, we love surprising the TGM community, so we’re always trying to find new ways to interact with them and create unexpected collections. As for what’s next… you’ll just have to stay tuned to see what we have in store for you this FW22.
GO: Visit https://thegivingmovement.com for more information.