The best kind of accessories are those that hold meaning. It could be something thrifted, gifted, or even something shiny from the mall. But it’s in wearing and using these accessories that we encase our memories or emotions in them.

In choosing ethically and sustainably-made accessories, you are carrying goods that are small but worldly. These impactful creations bear the hopes and dreams of artisanal communities. Handmade with utmost care for Mother Earth, they also carry hopes of a future where slow-made items are first choice.

Here are 5 ethical accessories brands in Southeast Asia to check out.

 

Pijakbumi

Images: Instagram/ @pijakbumi

The journey to soul changing footwear began with stolen soles. Too broke to replace his stolen sneakers, Rowland Asfales fancied designing a new pair. Learning about shoe craftsmen in Bandung was a strong lead. Discovering their terrible living conditions made him pivot his idea.

Rowland hopes to strike a healthier balance between people, planet and profits with Pijakbumi and showcase quality craftsmanship with minimal harm to Mother Earth. Vegetable tanned leather is a core material for comfortable insoles. So are kenaf linen and ramie fibre that sit atop crepe rubber soles crafted from upcycled tires. And best of all? His prices are wallet-friendly, comparable to a pair of Converse.

Why we love them: Casual footwear with an accessible price tag.  

Website: https://pijakbumi.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pijakbumi

Rags2Riches

Images: Instagram/ @rags2richesinc

This 14-year old ethical fashion powerhouse began in Payatas, one of the Philippines’ largest urban poor communities. The exploitation of craftswomen by greedy middlemen compelled Reese Fernandez-Ruiz to action.

Providing resources like material and access to the market was the start. They’ve further empowered the community via training programs and financial literacy education. They also share annual social reports that allows shoppers to know the impact of their purchases.

Why we love them: Their comprehensive and inclusive social enterprise spans cosy home interior and trendy clothes splashed with bold colour and unique textures.

Website: https://r2r.ph 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rags2richesinc 

Earth Heir

Images: Instagram/ @earthheir

This Malaysian social enterprise carries certified Fair Trade products made by marginalised communities. Colourful woven bags showcase the cultural heritage of indigenous weavers from Borneo. And fine jewellery with Middle-Eastern designs honour the heritage of refugee artisans employed in partnership with the official United Nations Refugee Agency. Earth Heir proves that design and fashion can be forged with an ethical business DNA.

Why we love them: Earth Heir also partners with women cooperatives believing that the future is female.

Website: https://earthheir.com 

Instagram: https://instagram.com/EarthHeir 

MANAVA

Images: Instagram/ @manava

MANAVA came to life in Cambodia, the brainchild of Ka-Lai Chan and Baraing Tho. Meaning ‘humankind’ in Sanskrit, this rattan accessory brand places a premium on the quality of work and life for the 24 female artisans who craft every item. These women receive fair income and life skills training through partnerships with other NGOs. Lake and river-growing rattan are utilised as it reaps a more sustainable harvest. 

Why we love them: MANAVA’s homewares honour their heritage with the inclusion of Cambodian Kbach symbols, traditionally used in pottery and Cambodian temple carvings.

Website: https://www.manava-cambodia.com/

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/manava_cambodia 

Biji Biji Ethical Fashion 

Images: Instagram/ @bijibijiethicalfashion

An offshoot of social enterprise Biji-biji Initiative, Biji Biji creates sustainable urban accessories. Since their launch in 2016, they’ve found new life for unusual waste materials from a range of manufacturing industries. Faulty seat belts, deadstock vintage kimonos, tarpaulin banners and carpets from the events are some of material with a new lease on life. Each piece uses at least 45% of the upcycled material are are made in fair and healthy working conditions.

Why we love them: Their gender-neutral pieces come with a lifetime warranty.

Website: https://bijibiji.co

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bijibijiethicalfashion