Exclusive four-part series: Asia's leading design entrepreneurs share their thoughts on the future of compassionate commerce for the region
As part of our ongoing feature stories for the month of June and celebrating all things #Compassion, Buro. Singapore presents an exclusive thought-starter series with four of Asia’s top emerging talents, hand-picked from The Bridge Fashion Incubator – a mentorship programme for emerging designers based in Singapore.
In 600 words or less, each entrepreneur will answer the following key question:
'What does 'Compassionate Commerce' mean to you and what is its future in Asia?’
This week, Herve Kozikila shares his thoughts on redefining the notion of sustainability in fashion and embracing ‘zero waste’ to truly unlock commerce that’s both good for the environment and our wallets.
The world is at a delicate point today. We have become voracious consumers of what the planet has generously given us, and even with all the technology and knowhow, somehow we haven't yet fully created 'conscious' choices. We know there is no Planet B, but is there a Plan B? I often find myself asking, can we consume and yet be compassionate towards the planet?
The word 'sustainability' seems like a relatively modern-age concept for a lot of people, but if you look at the way many local communities around Asia and the world had led their lives through history and pay close attention to what our forefathers have taught us, the basic tenets of: 'waste not; want not' still very much ring true. Conservation, when truly adopted, becomes a part of our values, our heritage and our way of life.
Asia is a wonderful example for conservation. As a Frenchman now based in Singapore, I am fascinated by the way in which Asians across the region are able to preserve culture, even if it's in their own ways country by country. They might do so by associating spiritualism to all that is life-giving such as forests, rivers, animals, mountains, crops, earth and even fire. We can see expressions of spiritualism through their craftsmanship, in the pottery they use, the jewellery they wear, the fine embroidery they create on their clothing, the way they build and decorate their homes and in just about all aspects of their life.
It's inspiring. If we can elevate these ways of life to become a lifestyle, I believe we can encourage consumers to drive value by supporting local communities as well as being responsible towards the planet we live in. Asia has given me more than what I could have asked for. It is transforming at a phenomenal speed and at the root of its vibrancy are its people. Driven by its value system, I see Asia to be a leading example of conservation for the world.
Growing up in Paris, I spent my childhood supporting those in the lower income groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo by sending them clothes and other necessities. Zero waste was a value my parents taught me. I knew I had to build my business based on this core value. So, when I moved to Asia in 2012 and set up Feedelon in 2017 - my e-commerce start-up for sustainably-sourced brands, my aim was to give back to the community, be kind to the planet and empower people. I realised I could do this by providing a 'Digital Passport' to the customers who can check on the true provenance of their purchases and be sure of their choices.
For me, Feedelon is a connector of the Asian values I've come to appreciate so much, to those who believe in living a sustainable lifestyle. We source products from local craftsmen, support their heritage and uphold fair trade to help local communities. My hope is to be the Alibaba or Amazon of sustainable lifestyle and with the Asian market as context, I believe it's possible.
It can be tempting to give in to the news we're regularly fed, that someday, we will pay the price for what we are doing for the environment in an irreversible manner unless we give up on our current lifestyles. We needn’t do that. I believe we can live both a sustainably viable lifestyle and conserve, through consciously and responsibly sourcing products. The world is precious and we have the choice. We just have to make the right one.
About Herve Kozikila
Herve Kozikila is currently a cohort at The Bridge Fashion Incubator and is growing his expertise in how to scale his business in Asia. He was born in Paris and grew up in a multicultural environment with origins in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. A former basketball player, he developed a love for fashion and technology while working for renowned companies in Paris, London, Singapore and Hong Kong. With a strong belief in supporting communities and ethical brands, Herve set up Feedelon in September 2017. His determination for “Zero Waste”, and supporting local communities, led him to change the way people shop and make choices about sustainable brands by making them fully accessible to everyone, anywhere, anytime.