peoplewear

Sustainable fashion catching on in Singapore

November 20, 2017

While fast fashion in Asia is bigger than ever, a growing conscious community are demanding more choice in organic and sustainable clothing. Lucky for Singapore, because this means more new brands popping up all the time!

But why has it taken Singapore so long to catch on, why is it happening now and is the hype going to last?

 

TIMING

Multi-label platform Zerrin and kids organic label Hunter + Boo both launched last month following the footsteps of Singapore success stories such as Matter, Touch the Toes and Etrican. The newcomers have had a flying start and both of them believe, that timing hasbeen one of the essential factors:

“I think Singapore is ready for it, people seem receptive and customers are asking the questions now. What I find interesting, is that people we meet sincerely want to educate themselves in this space, and no longer just the people who are already aware”, founder of Hunter + Boo, Beth Medley says.

Susannah Jaffer, founder of Zerrin, agrees: “Although the sustainable fashion movement is in its infancy in Singapore and Asia, as compared to countries like the US and Australia, there is a growing community of shoppers who care about where their dollar goes, and if their products have been produced responsibly. Simultaneously, sustainability is a growing buzzword in both the fashion and beauty communities and in that respect, we’re happy to have launched now when we did”.

Zerrin have 14 labels on their platform – shown is a dress by Aanya

STORY, STYLE & PRICE

Both Beth Medley and Susannah Jaffer also agree that while getting your message and product out might be easier today, the online space is also getting increasingly crowded by big players such as Zalora, and that it’s therefore essential to have a good story and find new ways of telling it:

“I think to stand out from the crowd today as a brand, you need to have a clear values. If that is confusing, you’ll lose the opportunity to connect with your customers, and for them to identify what you stand for. With ZERRIN, we’ve set a clear mission statement from the start, which is to enable, educate and empower others to #shopmeaningfully. Our goals are to curate beautifully designed and effective conscious products on one platform, tell the stories behind our labels through engaging content and in turn, reignite appreciation for the people and processes behind the brands we buy into. These are our foundational principles and will guide how we run the business”, Susannah Jaffer from Zerrin explains.

Firm principles and processes are also key for Hunter + Boo, who spend a lot of time on creating appealing stories, videos and posts on social media as well as collaborating with likeminded brands. However, for the new children clothes’s brand, the style and price has been key in their research and their desire to do something different:

“Because sustainable clothes are costly to produce and price is still a big determining factor for the customer, thankfully more companies are thinking about making sustainable fashion that both look good and is affordable. Those were they type of products I was looking for as a mum – and also why the idea to Hunter + Boo came up and hopefully what we’ve also achieved to do”, Beth Medley concludes.

THE BREAKTHROUGH

For founder of  the eight-year-old brand, Etrican, Dragos Nebula, the uprise in sustainable fashion and the fact that newcomers are finding their feet more quickly, is exciting.

“It’s great that there is surge of interest in sustainability, and new brands coming in is like a snowball effect, more exposure, more brands and wonderful for an old brand like us, as we love for the market to expand. It also means that we get a lot of people seeking advice from us, and having made all the mistakes we are able to advice in a way so we can get the best products out there”.

Etrican deliver 100% organic cotton products

Anisa Sia Johnny, a Retail Marketing professional and Senior Lecturer in Fashion Marketing & Merchandise at Raffles College of Higher Education with over 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, also welcomes the development and believes that we are finally seeing a breakthrough:

“The change has been going on slowly for many years. At Raffles ‘sustainability’ has always been woven into the curriculum but since the last few years I’ve noticed that students are much more engaged on the topic. There is no doubt that visible supply chain concerns, especially with food and children’s products, the wellness movement, as seen trending on Social Media, movies like The True Cost has helped this process. For fashion in particular, big names such as Stella McCartney, but also fast-fashion brands like H&M and Zara have contributed giving a wider platform to sustainable fashion which then reaches a much broader audience”, Anisa Sia Johnny says.

Etrican founder, Dragos Necula, agree that it looks like the change is more “real” while referring to a time in 2012, when what looked like a surge, died out:

“I’m quietly content and hope it will last. It looks like the market is more mature and because the trend is supported by a global rise, it’s also more substantiated. There’s still a certain amount of naivity in the business that is solely driven by idealism, so with the lack of funds in this business, what seems to be working is creativity. Brands such as Matter, platforms like Zerrin and events such as “Green is the New Black” has shown us that creativity can move us into a new direction and hopefully into an exciting future”.

Watch this space for a lot more features on sustainable fashion + our orgafinder on style.

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