Top Five Sustainable Fashion Brands of Singapore

Top Five Sustainable Fashion Brands of Singapore

2250 1500 Sovina Taneja

The third world has given a tremendous boost to the fashion industry in the past few decades, and Singapore is no exception. Institutionalized consumerism has led to the development of countless fast fashion brands that have become deeply rooted in robust countries such as Singapore. Using copious amounts of water, toxic dyes, and wasteful materials, the textile and fashion industry has placed itself as the second highest polluting industry worldwide. With low cost of merchandise, the lifespan of each article of clothing has reduced significantly because consumers buy, wear, and throw. While 7 in 10 Singaporeans do not make sure that their clothes are produced & sourced sustainability, the same 7 in 10 continue buying new items of clothing – at least once in six months! Moreover, Singapore is also a world market, with shoppers from all over the globe, especially other Asian countries, coming here to satisfy their fashion needs. Shopping is a Singaporeans’ favorite hobby, but it’s about time we realize it’s contributing heavily to climate change.

Source: unsplash

The Singapore market is slowly but surely evolving to incorporate the concept of responsible consumerism. Asian consumers are becoming more aware of the impact that the fashion industry has on the environment, leading to a positive shift in their mindset. The spotlight on the use of plastic and the need for sustainability in large scale industries has also helped in changing the conscience of consumers. Many are expressing the need for businesses to be more responsive to the environment. With increasing pressure from consumers and the new wave of socially conscious thinking, many brands are now aware of the environmental footprint they leave. SMEs are now aiming to promote sustainability as part of their main brand goal, with many environment-centric ideas rising in the workplace. It is really positive to see that the past decade has seen a rapid rise in fashion brands that are trying to bring a green change to Singapore’s fashion scene. Here are the top 5 sustainable fashion brands in Singapore that are unique in their approach and deserve special recognition.

MATTER

#ChangeBeyondTextiles 

Started in 2014 by founder and entrepreneur Renyung Ho, MATTER is a business with a cause.

By combining sustainability in its brand in more than one way, MATTER is the ultimate Singaporean guilt-free brand to look out for. MATTER’s primary focus is on textiles, highlighting their raw, natural feel in handmade clothes. They feature rural artists from villages in India and other small Asian countries, bringing their unique production methods into the limelight. MATTER firmly believes that textile products should be preserved as a unique cultural heritage, especially in today’s world of low quality and cheap fast fashion garments.

A company that started out with only selling pants is now a pioneer in the Singapore fashion realm by introducing various hidden Asian clothing styles, such as sarongs and Indian dhoti to the market. These fashion trends were Renyung’s inspirations from her travels, where she first dreamt up the idea of starting a luxury green clothing company. MATTER focuses on sustainable sourcing for their raw materials; many of their lines use only organic cotton, silk and hand printing for production on garments. Even with the rapid increase in popularity, MATTER still chooses to prioritize quality over quantity, focusing on the ethics of clothes production. By inspiring people to ask ‘where, why, and by whom’ something was made and working solely for their cause, MATTER is an inspiration for all those who want to work towards a cause that truly matters.

Source: Matterprints Official Instagram, 2020

AUGUST SOCIETY

AUGUST SOCIETY is a swimwear SME based in Singapore doing their best to make their impact on the sustainability scene. Swimsuit is perhaps the hardest piece of clothing for manufacturing sustainability, which is the main reason they have made it to our list. Due to its distinct functional requirements, swimwear is made of mainly materials such as nylon and polyester – making them extremely harmful for the environment. To put things into perspective, the spandex industry produces 65 tonnes of plastic material every year. To make such a low-cost sector sustainable is undoubtedly a hard task, but AUGUST SOCIETY leads this string of thought in the Lion city.

Calling themselves the “antithesis of fashion,” their main motto revolves around using waste plastic as the raw material to produce swimsuits for men, women, and children. The company takes an extra step to minimize its fabric waste and uses digital ink as a means to reduce ink waste. Not to worry, they do not compromise on durability and comfort; they want their customers to be able to use the same swimsuit for years to come. By recycling waste plastic into a completely viable raw material, their products are not only environment-friendly but also ethical in their choices. AUGUST SOCIETY also offers UV protection, sunblock, oil resistance, and shape persistence, making their swimwear premium in the market. The creator, Toni Chan, insists on comfort and confidence, evident in her designs and overall brand outlook. 

The company goes beyond its sustainable manufacturing but also includes their employees on the production line. The production factory situated in Bali, Indonesia, has safe facilities as well as ensures pay that is double the minimum wage. AUGUST SOCIETY is a unique brand that has taken a challenge in the sustainability scene in Singapore and delivered some of the best there is to offer. 

Source: August Society

TERIE

Terie Sim took a second to think about her personal needs and provided the perfect answer to what women want: comfortable underwear in different fits and sizes. Underwire bras are a constant in any woman’s closet, and it’s no secret how uncomfortable they can be. After recognizing this problem, Terie has been able to take a specific need and create a unique brand featured around comfortable bralettes for women. How are bralettes unique? Well, Terie takes her brand a step above the rest because she makes her products sustainable by using recycled bamboo produce these undergarments.

The first step was launching her brand HerJeju, a brand that made handmade lace bralettes for women. She then decided that her products needed modifications, and she used constructive feedback offered by her customers to create the product. She relies heavily on interaction with her consumer base, focusing on women empowerment as the main motto. Her aim for going green by ditching metal and using bamboo and organic ‘customized fabric’ has also made her product a favorite amongst those who also support the cause of sustainability. Terie provides nude colors, various cups, and sizes and also features local women from different walks of life in her promotional modeling. To make things even better, the bras are antibacterial, anti-odor, and UV resistant. Terie Sim has taken a niche product and made it both environment-friendly and customer-friendly, making her a pioneer in the Singaporean innerwear market.

Source: Terie Official Instagram, 2020

OLIVEANKARA

OliveAnkara is a quirky and notable Singaporean brand that sells Ankara or African wax prints in various apparel, also specializing in Afromonos and Cheongsams. The company was started by Ifeoma Ubby, a cancer researcher, who wanted to share Ankara cotton prints with the Singaporean market.

Traditionally used in linen, table covers, and curtains, Ubby learned seamstressing and decided to extend this art style to clothes and accessories. The reason why OliveAnkara is uniquely popular is that it brings a taste of Nigeria to the fashion market and exposes it for interpretation. Moreover, their efforts to be sustainable have been noticed and supported by many. Their main aim is to become a zero-waste brand. For one, fabric waste is kept to a minimum and is also recycled to make jewelry, bags, etc. OliveAnkara also employs less-privileged women who are skilled in sewing, providing them a job, and helping them ́ ‘give back to society.’ Ifeoma employed women from Rwanda to make handwoven baskets, which helped make authentic and sustainable products while also helping the women earn a reliable livelihood. Such steps make OliveAnkara a truly sustainable brand. They also wish to give voice to other hidden African communities in the future. Like Matter, Ifeoma, too, emphasizes the need for quality over quantity and the need to appreciate different cultures and their heritages. OliveAnkara has made its own footing amongst other Singaporean brands and its competitors by giving traditional African textiles a voice in a global Asian market. 

Source: OliveAnkara Official Instagram, 2020

TESSELLATE CO.

In all the different brands that try to be sustainable in their approach, jewelry is perhaps the most distinct of them all. At the outset, it isn’t very easy to envision jewelry, becoming a sustainable business. However, May, the founder and her unique approach to jewelry, has made it possible. She talks about her jewelry being inspired by her travels, especially to India, which was where she discovered her love for jewelry.

Tessellate Co. works with high-quality gems to make beautiful pieces that have unquestionably captured the market’s attention. By making extra effort in both production and employment, Tessellate Co. has also made its range of products sustainable. Tessellate Co. pays back to the Earth in its own unique way. Like many other fashion brands, the company also reflects on its choice of raw materials used. Many of their products are made of brass and silver instead of traditional gold, which last longer and are hence more sustainable in the long run. The brand only works with fair trade artisans for its jewelry production, and firmly believes in its cause of social entrepreneurship.

Moreover, it also focuses on empowering underprivileged girls by collaborating with Fior Di Loto. A dollar is donated to the collaborators with every piece of jewelry sold, helping the lives of 500 girls in rural India. In 2019, they also sponsored three girls, and aim to continue increasing this number this year as well. Tessellate Co. shows that there are countless numbers of ways for any brand to become socially and environmentally conscious if it has the will to do so. Uncharacteristically for a jewelry brand, Tessellate Co. has proudly added sustainability to its mission and goes beyond product production to achieve it. 

Source: Tessellate Co. Official Instagram, 2020

The Singaporean market is seeing a rapid rise in brands that recognize the need for sustainability as a part of their business goals. The fashion industry has perhaps seen the fastest increase of them all, with many brands using organic raw materials, sustainable production techniques, and green methods of packaging their products. The significant rise of sustainability in fashion is because this industry also leads when it comes to pollution of the environment; by the release of microfibres, plastics, inks, and dyes by large scale factories mostly set up in developing countries. The above-described companies, as well as many others in Singapore, realize their duty towards the Earth and take the responsibility of doing their part in reducing the adverse effects of the fast-paced fashion industry. These SME brands have also included their green campaigns in their marketing strategies and caught the eyes of the new generations that are willing to support and patronize brands with a cause. By using sustainability at the forefront of their promotion, they have been able to increase their consumer base while simultaneously working for their purpose. While these are only five, many other engaging SMEs are doing their part in saving the environment and trying to make the Earth a better place, both for us and the future generations to come.

Sovina Taneja

Sovina Taneja is a final year student at the University of Hong Kong. She majors in Food & Nutritional Science with a minor in Kinesiology. She has a keen interest in the field of Sustainability & Food Waste and also, keen on spreading awareness about its link to the private sector. When she is not working, you can find her at the dance class or soaking up some sun at the beach.

All stories by:Sovina Taneja
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Sovina Taneja

Sovina Taneja is a final year student at the University of Hong Kong. She majors in Food & Nutritional Science with a minor in Kinesiology. She has a keen interest in the field of Sustainability & Food Waste and also, keen on spreading awareness about its link to the private sector. When she is not working, you can find her at the dance class or soaking up some sun at the beach.

All stories by:Sovina Taneja

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