In 2013, over a thousand workers in Bangladesh died making the clothes we wear. The Rana Plaza garment factory disaster encapsulates the ugliest nature of fashion. Here’s the truth we couldn’t ignore any longer about fast fashion stores: there is a hidden cost to their cheap price tags. And it’s humans corralled away in large factories and Mother Earth who pay the price.
Thankfully, fast fashion is no longer in vogue. With stalwarts like H&M and Topshop shuttering stores due to a lack of demand, shoppers are speaking with their wallets to demand a more ethical future. Even Southeast Asia online titans Zalora have heeded the call and are pursuing a more sustainable fashion ecosystem.
It’s time to move past cheap material and even cheaper labour. Here are 6 ethical labels leading the charge for what sustainable fashion of the future should look like.
Get ready to flex in activewear that does the triple-work of making you feel, look and do good! The workout staples from this Malaysian brand are ethically manufactured using ECONYL regenerated nylon crafted from discarded ocean waste and fabric scraps. They also offer limited-edition collections that use deadstock fabric, saving them from landfills and organic cotton.
Why we love them: The celebration of body inclusivity in their collection and the inclusion of pockets on their bottoms.
Designer Morn Sukajit Daengchai named the label after her grandmother, who was instrumental in reforming the art of indigo vat dyeing in the Sakhon Nakhon province in Thailand.
Locally harvested cotton is handwoven using traditional looms. In this chemical-free label, mango and ebony fruits add colour to the classic silhouettes with a contemporary eye. With little waste and pollution, the brand is a highly applaudable farm-to-tailor operation!
Why we love them: To own a piece from Mae Teeta is to wear three generations of a family’s passion and history on your sleeve.
How can beautiful clothes be so bad for the environment? That was a question Alicia Tsi realised while working at luxury fashion retailer, Club 21. As she uncovered the terrible truths behind the beautiful aesthetics, she was moved to redefine fashion that’s better.
Her label wants you to know who made your clothes in Chiang Mai or Ho Chi Minh City and they also encourage you to pre-order to minimise waste. Later this year, they plan to repair your garments. From responsibly sourced trims to conscious packaging, Esse aims to reach their goal of circularity in time.
Why we love them: Capsule wardrobe classics that will stand the test of time.
This Bali-based apparel and swimwear brand represents the slow fashion island experience. Breezy clothes made from natural fabric like silk, linen and cotton exude evening cocktails by the sea vibes. Swimwear made from Carvico Vita, a textile consisting of ECONYL and elastane, delivers a premium feeling of fun in the sun. Committed to a zero-waste policy with fair wages, RIMMBA’s environmental footprint is as soft as its native beaches.
Why we love them: If we can’t be on an island, we can at least emulate the resortwear experience at home.
Vincent Ooi is wary about calling his Singaporean brand truly sustainable. However, his label featuring premium modern basics definitely emphasises quality and transparency. SOURCE Collection sheds light on the factories that make their garments and innerwear. From a worker’s average salary to a factory’s certification and safe working conditions, no child labour and only safe working conditions apply here.
Why we love them: The brand breakdowns the true cost of creations so shoppers know the actual value of their buy.
In Cambodia, toxic ecosystems plague mass garment factories. tonlé has spearheaded a radical rethink of the industry via their signature zero waste upcycled textile process. First, larger pieces of leftover fabric collected from factory floors are cut into designs. Then small, unusable scraps are sewn into yarn and hand woven into new pieces by Cambodian indigenous artisans. The iconic patchwork design in their label is a combination of these twice-recycled fabrics.
Why we love them: Users are able to resell their past tonlé purchases in a section on their website. How thoughtful!