I try to do my bit when it comes to eco-friendly living. I stopped using plastic straws after seeing that sea turtle video on YouTube…for a while. I totally bought into the ETL No. 9 All Purpose cleaner…but keep forgetting to use it. And I always use canvas bags instead of plastic. Well, nearly always. My problem is commitment, and when it comes to sustainable fashion, because I haven’t always able to align eco-friendly and sustainable brands with things I actually want to wear, style has often won out over substance.
And yet, unbelievably, fashion is the second largest industrial polluter of our planet after oil. Hence why the industry is now going all guns blazing to turn around sustainable fashion’s frumpy rep with credible collections that people really want to buy. There’s really no other option.
This ‘clothing mountain’ of polyester will take 200 years to decompose. Scary.
I recently went to two high street mega brand events: H&M and ZARA, both showcasing super-stylish sustainable collections, using recycled wool, wood pulp, and, in the case of H&M, a fabulous fabric made from shoreline waste, something all of us living on this side of the world have an understanding of. (My son’s Cub Scout pack did a Singapore beach cleanup last weekend and collected 250 kilos of waste.)
Plus the brands are becoming socially aware with wages and working conditions, which is way too close to comfortably ignore for anyone who travels through Southeast Asia. Other high street giants like ASOS and Mango have also released sustainable collections, and luxury fashion, with Stella McCartney at the forefront, is starting to follow suit (Ferragamo has a S/S17 line made from orange peel fibres). Designers are understanding this sea change is essential, not optional.
Sustainable fashion doesn’t mean you have to wear this. Or these.
So good news the mega brands are becoming easy picking for the newbie socially aware fashionista. But how about independents and stores that we can access in Singapore? These are my top five picks of labels that create fashion I want to wear. Sustainable fashion is the future ladies. Get involved.
Matter is a socially motivated local business dedicated to pioneering industry change and sustainability for rural textile communities in India. The company doesn’t strive to be a ‘fashion’ label, having initially focussed on ‘pants to see the world in’. That said, these are very cool clothes, with androgynous Scandi luxe appeal that has gotten them noticed by, amongst others, Vogue and Harpers Bazaar.
Find it at: Threadbare and Squirrel, Gallery & Co., Kapok
ACCESSORIES: IT TAKES BALLS
This quirky local knitwear brand sells itself as ‘fashion powered by the maker revolution’, ditching fast fashion in favour of sustainably sourced materials, and supporting brands with strong ethical and environmental values. Buy pre-knitted items or do it yourself at their brilliant and rather cool Club Street knitting parties that you’re invited to free with every purchase. Cocktails not included.
Knitting Party Venue: Fry Rooftop Bistro, 96B Club Street, Singapore 069464
A French-produced sneaker brand stocked in style conscious boutiques here in Singapore. Stylish enough to make waves in a saturated market, Veja uses naturally sourced rubber from the Amazonian rainforest, recycled plastic and tilapia skin waste. With celeb fans, and Vogue naming Veja 2017’s ‘The ultimate summer plimsole’, these sustainable shoes have hit the big time.
Find it at: Kapok, Maison Ikkoku, Takishimaya
FITNESS: TOUCH THE TOES
Fitness wear has to be the easiest way to work sustainable fashion into your wardrobe. The only eco-friendly yoga store in Singapore, and the first in Asia, Touch The Toes promotes sustainably produced labels that use only organic cotton, bamboo blends and recycled or up cycled materials, but in ultra desirable fashion forward prints from exciting brands like yoga democracy. Find it at: Touch The Toes Flagship, 4a Haji Lane, Singapore 189197
JEWELLERY: THE MINDFUL COMPANY
Local jewellery brand The Mindful Company has a Slow Fashion ethos with it’s simple engraved bracelets: products intended to be timeless rather than seasonal, creating durable, ethically sourced products working alongside suppliers and using only recycled materials for their beautiful minimal packaging. These bracelets are seriously chic, affordable and my new favourite gift.
Find it at: Tangs, Gallery & Co., Touch the Toes