What makes fashion “local”? What makes it “sustainable”? Can non-Western fashion locales have the same definitions of sustainability espoused by the global industry? This article reflects on a fashion “sustainability” for Bahrain and the Arab Gulf that goes beyond a focus on product. Specifically, the article explores how fashion space is used in Bahrain by different groups, as well as equity of experience and phenomenology of these spaces in Bahrain. Fashion spaces—such as the mall or souk—are primary areas of public gathering in the Gulf. Based on the results of qualitative interviews and a Delphi study, this article puts forward the example of fashion spaces and tailoring in Bahrain, where an expanded definition of use is found in Gulf fashion practice when compared to the traditional “life cycle” view used in fashion sustainability discourse. These differences in fashion ontology compared to a Western context impact what could be considered true “innovation” in the case of the Arab Gulf. For instance, cocreation through tailoring in the Gulf is culturally prevalent and a default feature of existing material culture, whereas similar notions are classified in a context of “innovation” in Western discourse. Thus it becomes crucial to explore an Arab Gulf ontology of fashion as a precursor to its “sustainability” and honest discussion of its own transformation toward sustainability.

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