Fashion has often been cast as a frivolity, a frothy consumerist paradise with little regard for the impact it has on communities and the environment. Well, these designers beg to differ. Increasing backlash against low-wage factories and resource draining fast-fashion has raised awareness about the issue of accountability and contributed to the rise of socially conscious fashion. This new breed of designers intertwines ethical and sustainable practices with the creative spark of fashion to inspire beautiful garments and accessories that make you look and feel good (inside). Ahead: our list of socially conscious fashion designers and retailers with the heart to do good.
Laidback kaftans, cover-ups and accessories
Chillax market, #03-07, The Grandstand, 200 Turf City Road, Singapore 287994 | Also available at various stockists.
Get transported to the divine islands of Bali and Ibiza with Baliza’s stylish range of resort wear. Gorgeously laidback kaftans, cover-ups, scarves and costume jewelery, each handmade in Ladli, the vocational training centre of Jaipur-based NGO, I-India, make the perfect ensemble for a beach getaway or a day of poolside lounging. The vibrant and fun-loving collection is aptly titled, “Jaipur Dream”, possibly named after the aspirations of the Ladli workers, who are given fair wages for their work. Baliza’s profits are reinvested into Ladli’s future, ensuring that the traditional techniques of hand dyeing and printing continue on.
100% organic and eco-friendly fashion label
Etrican is an organic and eco-friendly fashion label that specializes in accessible yet adventurous designs. Only 100% organic cotton is used, resulting in soft, breathable fabric that feels smooth to the touch and more importantly, is free from hazardous chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin. All of Etrican’s clothing have earned the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification which dictates against several ills such as child labour, unfair wages, discrimination and prohibits toxic chemical inputs. We love that Etrican’s designs are not strapped to the conventional eco-friendly make but boast unique designs and flattering silhouettes.
Hats made with traditional, earth-friendly techniques
Available at various stockists.
Heads of State Millinery fashions sustainable hats that make just as big a statement on fashion as they do for the environment. Traditional indigenous craft traditions are applied to unconventional raw materials to arrive at an audacious and ever-expanding collection of headdresses and hats. Heads of State Millinery designer, Chee Sau Fen, explores ingenious earth-friendly ways to craft hats, exploiting simple techniques such as folding and hand sewing and to create shapely and artistically beautiful hats.
Sustainable handwoven bags
64 Haji Lane, Singapore 189257 | Also available online.
Borne of a love for travel and the desire to celebrate the venerable skill of indigenous artistic communities, Kolombiana provides the unique offering of handwoven bags that are the distinctive hallmark of the Wayuu tribe from Colombia, South America. No two mochilas are the same: the bags are painstakingly handcrafted from 100% cotton or leather and dyed in a dazzling rainbow of colours. Just imagine, a mere plain, undecorated bag requires 20 long days of toil by the Wayuu tribeswomen. In supporting and promoting the Wayuu community craft, Kolombiana provides a means of sustaining their livelihoods and pays homage to the respect instilled in their craft.
Repurposed scrap metal jewellery
Bringing some much-needed attention to the war restoration cause in Cambodia, Saught is a socially conscious accessories line with a peace-building message. Salvaged scrap metal from active Cambodian landmines is repurposed into delicate and exquisite jewellery under the hands of skilled Cambodian artisans. This undertaking is shared amongst Saught’s founders, (Pamela Yeo, Ng Sook Zhen and Adeline Heng), the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, trained artisans from Cambodian-based NGOs and students from Temasek School of Design, who came up with the jewellery designs. From deadly weapons of destruction to beautiful emblems of peace worn around our necks, the symbolism of this transformative social business is not lost on us.
Socially and environmentally sustainable selection of brands
115 Amoy Street, Singapore 069935. By appointment only. | Also available online.
Wondering what a girl needs to do to enjoy some guilt-free shopping ‘round here? The Fashion Benefit is here to answer that call. The online retailer acts as an aggregator of local and international labels that wave the flag for social and environmental sustainability – from those that subscribe wholeheartedly to fair-trade practices to brands that favour eco-friendly fabrics and repurpose their end-of-season apparel. What’s more, every purchase you make leads to a US$5 donation to TBF’s chosen cause. With feted brands such as Aijek, 4 All Humanity, Edge of Ember and Weekend Sundries listed as partners, the style prospects for savvy do-gooder shoppers look sunny.