Sustainability in Fashion, Part 4: Five sustainable Asian fashion brands to know
Shop with a conscience
Country: Hong Kong
Wouf uses groomed and cleaned dog hair called "chiengora" to create accessories such as scarves, shawls and hats. While not for everyone, the brand popular amongst Hong Kong's ever quirky fashionistas is a cruelty-free alternative to mink and fur. Pet lovers can even collect their pet's fur and request Wouf to tailor-make clothing items from it. While it's a concept that's hard to comprehend, the brand is taking a waste product and turning it into a useful (and warm) one. A brand that has claimed dog fur to be waterproof, durable and 80% warmer than wool, this beats a mink coat any day.
Standout item: The spiral design Neckwarmer (HK$2,500) made from a combination of chiengora and alpaca yarn that is as toasty as it is chic.
There are many children living in Asia who travel long distances barefoot simply because they cannot afford a pair of shoes. These children live under the poverty line or are natural disaster survivors looking to get back on their feet. That's where Soule steps in.
Every pair of flip flops or sunglasses purchased from Soule helps someone in need. That's how the Singapore-based social enterprise gives back while turning a profit. To date, Soule's sales (via their website and at stores like Naiise and The Nail Social) have enabled them to give out more than 1,877 pairs of shoes to underprivileged children in Singapore and China. It's not a one-size-fits-all solution either. The social enterprise remains committed to meeting the needs of these children by supplying appropriate footwear such as socks, covered shoes or slippers, depending on their climatic needs.
Standout item: Smile Blue Flipflops (SGD$20) are great for the beach. Each slipper joint is stress-tested to avoid any breakage and available in either thick or thin straps.
3. ANCHORA COLLECTIVE
Founded by inspiring social entrepreneur, Cheryl Ou, Anchora Collective sells wearable, affordable fair-trade products made by artisans from marginalised communities. Apart from curating wearable pieces from unexploded Cambodian landmines, she also runs a socially conscious manicure salon called The Nail Social, where Anchora jewellery is also stocked.
Standout item: Backbone Necklace (SGD$129) made of recycled bombshell brass. The necklace was created using a body cast to get its realistic skeletal feel.
4. HABI FOOTWEAR
Habi (which is Tagalog for "to weave") grew out of co-founder Janine Chiong's social enterprise thesis project in university — to find a solution to provide a livelihood and training opportunities for mothers in the community, reduce textile waste and champion a change in lifestyle through responsible fashion. Habi Footwear pays female homemakers across Quezon City to weave upcycled rags into espadrilles and slip-on sandals. Their classic espadrilles are made out of scrap cloth from shirt factories and recycled airplane tyres for the soles.
Standout item: Classic black and white espadrilles (PHP750). The monochrome is a great twist on the casual shoe, but it's the graphic inner print that makes it a clincher.
Also crafted from artillery shells recovered from Cambodian landmines, Saught creations are high on art, high on intellect and highly sought after. Producing in small quantities, Saught also works closely with other emerging designers to create capsule collections with Singapore-raised Japanese jewellery designer, Yuki Mitsuyasu and Hong Kong-based jewellery label, Protest Design. Saught also runs silversmithing workshops, most recently at Tangs to help spread its craft mission.
Standout item: Egg on Peace Ring (USD$168) is as delicate as it looks. The ring is made of a real quail egg shell that is "designed to break". An artist's reflection on the destructive power of landmines, the piece is meant to limit the wearer's movements, putting them in the shoes of people who live in landmine-afflicted areas. Once the shell cracks, it reveals an anti-landmine sign. Available for pre-order in 18-carat gold-plated copper and brass.
To read more on sustainable fashion, visit Asia For Good — the home of socially conscious living in Asia.
To read all articles in the Sustainability in Fashion series, click here.