Today’s post is from Eliina C, a Singapore-based mumpreneur and blogger who shares her perspective of the sustainable fashion scene in Singapore:
As consumers living in Singapore, there is no doubt that branding and pricing plays a part in our fashion purchases. Some are willing to pay for a brand that is internationally recognised while some want to get the best deals in town.
How about paying for sustainably and ethically-made products? Over the years, consumers have been educating themselves about the effects of fast fashion but the majority of them do not put these lessons into practice.
Similar to supporting the local brands, there are emerging brands popping up but how often do we purchase from them as compared to well-known international brands?
Too Many Clothes?
As consumers in Singapore, most purchase known brands, and unknowingly end up paying for the brand’s marketing presence and branding rather than the actual value of the product. An example is fashion online stores (formerly known as blogshops) which sell inexpensive clothing for young ladies.
Their task is to purchase ready-made clothing overseas wholesale at a very low cost, without any prior fashion knowledge, mark up their retail prices for reasonable profits and re-brand or market it under their own label.
Take some time to ponder, what are we actually paying for and supporting?
Although some are slowly designing and manufacturing their own clothes, it is undeniable that consumers are generally geared towards fast fashion whereby they would purchase trendy clothing on impulse or short-term purchases, and wear them once or twice before giving them away or selling them.
There are various flea markets organised in Singapore weekly that caters to young ladies to sell their used clothing. Although most consumers in Singapore are opportunists, people who donate their purchases to non-profit organisations for reselling do exist. A handful, meanwhile, upcycle their clothing into something better.
Over the years, several startups have created platforms for consumers to sell and purchase their fashion items or enable them to rent clothing. This creates more mileage towards the fashion item by recycling instead of ending up into the landfills faster than they should.
Sustainable and Environmentally-Conscious Fabrics
Sustainable fabrics have been around for at least two decades with organic cotton and slowly, more eco-friendly fabrics have emerged thanks to technology. Examples are bamboo, tencel and cupro. Consumers are slowly accepting the benefits of purchasing sustainable fashion especially the environmentally-conscious and those who have skin sensitivity.
Garments which are made from eco-friendly fabrics do have their benefits such as being gentle to the skin and without any harsh chemicals, especially organically grown cotton. Although eco-friendly fabrics are on the rise, it is ironic that consumers see the cruelty of fur and exotic reptile skins but are not willing to part with certain animal-based fabrics such as silk and leather. For vegans, alternatives will be faux leather or vinyl which are man-made materials made from polyurethane (PU) which are commonly used for shoes and bags.
Bear in mind that although clean water is sufficient in Singapore, developing countries with plenty of garment factories do not have access to safe and clean drinking water because they are used to produce fabrics which cause waterways to be polluted with chemicals due to the manufacturing processes, especially for denim.
Fair Trade Work Practices
In general, certain products in the market may be inexpensive and high quality but do they support fair work trade practices? Especially in big fast fashion companies, why are the garments incredibly inexpensive?
Other than cutting cost on fabrics that only survive a few washes, a big factor will be cutting the cost of labour. The more we support these brands, the more it encourages them to have continuous low wages and bad working conditions for the people who manufactures them. We heard about fires in garment factories starting from a few years back in Dhaka and without change, it will continue to happen.
Due to increasing labour cost which companies are not willing to pay, many garment factories in Singapore have closed over the years. For garment factory workers to have better wages and working conditions, cost of labour will require a significant increase in the cost price of each garment which then reflects on the retail price for us consumers.
Fair trade work practices awareness among consumers in Singapore are not widely known as
compared to the United States but it will great if brands are able to be transparent to consumers so that they will have peace of mind that no other humans are sacrificed during the making of a piece of our clothing and to justify the cost of purchase instead of just paying for branding and marketing.
Be Conscious, Buy Smart and Save the World
Although sustainable fashion is a niche fashion in Singapore, consumers still have a long way to go towards being conscious concerning sustainable fashion. They could educate themselves further, by supporting eco-friendly fabrics, ethically-made products and shopping smart instead of buying on impulse, especially in fast fashion establishments. To save money further, they could just buy off from someone else or rent!
Who Made My Clothes by Fashion Revolution: http://fashionrevolution.org/
Rent Designer Pieces: http://sg.styletheory.co/
Flea Markets: http://www.fleawhere.com/
New2U Thrift Shop: http://www.scwo.org.sg/what-we-do/facilities/new2u-thrift-shop/
Eco-friendly Singapore Labels:http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/eco-friendly-fashion-catches-on-in-singapore
Eliina C. is a mumpreneur and blogger who blogs at www.elyxelle.net, she’s on Instagram as @elyxelle.