Upcycled eco-friendly fashion brands to know and shop in Singapore: Sottes, Greg Lauren, Reformation, and more
The new old
Fashion is dirty. In fact, we’ve written extensively about how denim guzzles large amounts of water while being heavily polluting and how the largest players in fashion aim to make the industry greener. But if you’re looking to use your dollar to support labels that have eco-consciousness coded in their DNA, you can start with these 10 labels that incorporate upcycling in their production. While upcycling has been known predominantly to involve recycling plastics, there's a whole world of new fashion born from repurposed vintage fabrics that deserve the spotlight.
Tove & Libra
The people behind it: Tove & Libra is a Hong Kong-based womenswear label Christine Chow and Ivan Tang started in 2018 after witnessing firsthand how polluting fashion production is.
Why should you care: The two have family ties to one of the oldest apparel manufacturers on the island, and they’re able to upcycle their leftover deadstock fabrics to make up 50% of Tove & Libra’s creations.
Where to find them: Tove & Libra is sold via their online store.
The people behind it: Jeanne Guenat and Elliot Upton first met when they were both working with Vivienne Westwood. A mutual interest in eco-fashion led the two to collaborate as business partners, and open Sottes in 2017.
Why should you care: Sottes is sustained by 100% upcycled materials. As a result, their genderless designs are limited (usually less than 10 pieces) and won’t be produced again. The Swiss-based label also empowers local artisans and creates capsules rather than seasonal collections.
Where to find them: Sottes is sold exclusively at Surrender.
The people behind it: A self-proclaimed third culture kid, Katia Nicolas, an environmental economist turned designer, founded unisex Good Krama in 2015 in Cambodia. Krama refers to the traditional Cambodian checkered fabric made with silk or cotton.
Why should you care: Besides using deadstock fabrics obtained from garment factories that would otherwise be discarded at landfills, Good Krama also works with local partners to support the communities and preserve age-old handicraft techniques.
Where to find them: Good Krama is sold via their online store. If you want to further commit to the green cause, you may purchase carbon offsets to make the delivery carbon neutral. Closer to Singapore, the brand is hosting a pop-up at The Lounge by Zerrin from now till 28 November.
The people behind it: The nephew of famed American designer Ralph Lauren, Greg Lauren’s eponymous label incepted in 2011 draws inspiration from artists, nomads, and soldiers.
Why should you care: Greg Lauren is known for his unconventional, deconstructed styles that amalgamate different silhouettes into a harmonious blend, all while incorporating vintage military fabrics and repurposed denim. The creations are said to be made entirely by hand at their Los Angeles studio.
Where to find them: Aside the online store, Greg Lauren is available at Ssense, Matchesfashion.com, and L’Armoire Singapore at Mandarin Gallery.
The people behind it: After her first fashion label Ya-ya shuttered due to the Great Recession, model-turned-designer Yael Aflalo was left with loads of inventory. Not wanting to let them go to waste, she imagined Reformation in 2009 as a way to prove that clothing can be produced with little waste, resulting in the label we know today.
Why should you care: Besides their cult following on social media, Reformation is famed for its green ethos. Upcycled fabrics and sustainable materials are used as much as possible, while they hold themselves accountable through transparency on their eco-friendly creations (the brand details the environmental impacts of each item). Fans include Rihanna, Karlie Kloss, and Taylor Swift.
Where to find them: Reformation is sold via their online store and e-tailers such as Net-a-Porter, Farfetch, and Browns Fashion.
The people behind it: Hardy Blechman started the London-streetwear label in 1994 with the principle of creating eco-friendly clothing that doesn’t lack in quality nor style. In 2000, Blechman was awarded Streetwear Designer of the Year by the British Fashion Awards.
Why should you care: At the core of Blechman’s design is the steadfast use of materials such as hemp, organic cotton, and recycled military clothing that won’t add stress to the environment. Moreover, the brand is constantly on the lookout for cutting-edge green technology, such as weatherproof Japanese nylon made with vegetable dye.
Where to find them: Maharishi is sold via their online store and their two brick-and-mortars in New York City and London. They are also found at Farfetch, HBX, and END.
The people behind it: Wanting to lead by example to change the way fashion is produced, designer Riley Uggla founded Riley Studio with an eco-conscious ethos. Uggla has another ethical fashion label under her belt as well, Made By Riley, a loungewear label that has partnered with Human Rights Watch.
Why should you care: Riley Studio prides itself on its seasonless, gender-neutral minimalist creations. Their pieces are made with upcycled fabrics and green materials such as Lyocell, Econyl, and recycled polyester.
Where to find them: Riley Studio is sold via their online store.
The people behind it: Italy-trained Swedish fashion designer Sofie Andersson created Anekdot, a sustainable underwear and swimwear label, in 2015.
Why should you care: Production leftovers, end of lines, off-cuts, deadstock, and vintage trimmings are but some of the upcycled materials used by Anekdot to fashion their lingerie. As a result, Anekdot’s handcrafted creations (made by female artisans in Berlin) are limited edition and rarely reproduced.
Where to find them: Anekdot is sold via their online store. They also have a physical store in Berlin.
The people behind it: Parsons alum Camilla Carper and Janelle Abbott founded Femail Forever in 2011 that focuses on repurposing fashion scraps into one-of-a-kind designs.
Why should you care: With a colourful, playful aesthetic, Femail Forever’s creations are striking and unlike others featured here. The founders also revealed that their creations are created after painstaking back-and-forths via snail mail — hence the name, Femail. Lady Gaga, Macklemore, and transgender model Aaron Philip, who has a disability, are customers.
Where to find them: Femail Forever is sold via their online store.
The people behind it: Astonished at the levels of pollution that denim produces, Canadian siblings Adam, Ania, and Mark Taubenfligel didn't want their brand (started in 2012) to follow the polluting path that the industry was on and redirected Triarchy towards a greener direction in 2016.
Why should you care: Besides incorporating vintage denim and recycled leather, Triarchy partners with a factory in Mexico that’s able to produce denim with less and recycled water. Moreover, Triarchy uses cotton blended with Tencel Lyocell made from the eucalyptus tree, which requires less water to grow than cotton.
Where to find them: Triarchy is sold via their online store.