This article was first published on 14 September 2020.
What do your clothes say about you? With growing concerns surrounding fair trade practices and the impact of fashion on the environment, you will realise that the clothes you wear are no longer just an extension of your style and personality, but also a representation of the values that you stand for. Read on as we round up five, Asia-based ethical fashion labels which are fighting the good fight in advocating for conscious clothing consumption.
1. Dear Samfu
Singaporean clothing brand Dear Samfu offers a modern, thoughtful re-interpretation of the timeless yet comfortable Samfu pieces worn by our grandmothers. Samfu, Cantonese for Shan Ku, is a breezy shirt and trouser pairing that is typically made out of the same fabric.
The brand’s clothing is produced in small batches and they work with their partners in Thailand to rescue and use quality fabrics which were otherwise destined for landfills. Furthermore, their garments are also packaged in recycled polybags and their garment labels are made of 100 per cent Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-certified organic cotton.
Check out: The Nowadays Crop Top in ‘navy’, which features a sweet ruffle neckline. Its cropped length makes it fun to pair with high-waisted bottoms, such as mom jeans or paper bag shorts. Add a red lip to complete this understated look.
Offering ‘investment’ pieces which are made from rescued fabrics or sustainable materials such as Tencel, bamboo and 100 per cent organic cotton, conscious eco-friendly womenswear label Esse is committed to building a progressive supply chain and business model that champions transparency as well, which includes supporting fair wages and gender equality.
The label is passionate about giving back to the community too and has collaborated with non-profit organisations such as STAR shelter, which provides a refuge for survivors of domestic violence, and The Fashion Pulpit, a social enterprise that aims to promote environmental education and awareness in the field of fashion.
Check out: The Organic Cotton Wide Leg Pants, which we reckon are the perfect addition to our work-from-home wardrobe. Woven from 100 per cent organic cotton fibres, these pants are designed with a wide-leg silhouette and a wide elastic waistband that sits comfortably on the waist.
3. Sunki Label
Deriving the name of their label from the Filipino word sungki, which translates to crooked teeth, Manila fashion label Sunki aims to celebrate all kinds of imperfections while championing stylish, sustainable fashion through their range of clothing. The label was officially launched in July this year and it prides itself in having 100% of its garments produced and manufactured in the Phillippines.
In terms of product packaging, the label opts for 100% biodegradable cassava plastic (which breaks down in just a few months) as well as seed paper for their tags such that shoppers can easily plant spinach seeds into their own gardens if they wish to. It’s also worth noting that the label partners with TELAStory Collective to ensure that the seamstresses that they work with are paid up to six times the average wage of a garment worker.
Check out: The ‘I’m on Vacation’ Romper, a fuss-free one-piece from the brand’s inaugural ‘Girl Friday’ capsule collection. This fun number is made of chemical-free linen fabric and boasts a flattering square neckline. Style this with a printed headband and trendy velcro sandals and you’re all set for your quick errand runs.
4. Tove & Libra
Sustainable womenswear label Tove & Libra subscribe to their ‘quality over quantity’ philosophy, where each and every piece of their clothing bears thoughtful details and are made using fair practices and feel-good, sustainable materials. The label owns its sourcing and production facilities so that they are able to ensure ethical production, quality control and lean pricing. In addition, they have access to deadstock materials which they then repurpose into their products, and have consciously reduced the amount of single-use packaging throughout their supply chain.
Check out: Their ‘Rina’ Bodysuit from their ‘WFH Capsule’ collection. Bodysuits have made a comeback recently and are severely underrated, despite how versatile and comfortable they are. This must-have item is designed to softly skim and flatter your curves and goes great with a pair of blue jeans or a long, pleated skirt.
5. Wray Crafted
Launched earlier this year, ethical fashion brand Wray Crafted aims to celebrate the rich culture and heritage of India with their small batches of hand-crafted clothing that are made alongside local artisanal communities. In addition to ensuring fair pricing for its network of embroiderers, the brand also strives to maximise fabric use to minimise the generation of fabric waste.
Each of their garments is also packaged in a reusable drawstring bag that is made from fabric scraps. They are also committed to using only natural fibres throughout their collections and make it a point to highlight the various traditional artisanal techniques that are used across their pieces to keep these crafts alive.
Check out: Their ‘Zuri’ Reversible Maxi Dress in Navy, which you can easily flip inside out if you’re in the mood to rock a royal purple hue in your get-up. This summer-ready piece features five different hand-block printed florals and also boasts pockets, a braided belt and tricolour hand embroidery.
Which of these ethical fashion labels will you be purchasing from?
Next, check out our round-up of online vintage shops in the region where you can score stylish and eco-friendly designs.
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