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Beyond reducing waste, these designers look to create change through building community.
Your average article about sustainable fashion in Hong Kong will most likely tell you that around 400 tonnes of textile end up in the city’s landfills everyday; that this number increases by 3% annually; and that the solution is to reduce, reuse, recycle.
But if the goal of sustainable fashion is to create not only flourishing ecosystems, but also communities, should these waste-based statistics serve as our only motivation? Are the three “R”s really our only way forward?
In this edition of EQ Trendroom, we spotlight brands that are expanding what sustainable fashion means and in doing so, remapping the industry. Buying a piece from them guarantees a beautiful addition to your wardrobe, and a meaningful one too.
As a creative brand building agency with the focus of helping impact driven businesses, we want you to join these young brands in disrupting the market. Let’s topple the gendered, careless, and self-centred norms of fashion, and step into the future of sustainable fashion.
Taking home the prestigious Yu Prize this June, Central Saint Martins graduates Derek Cheng and Alex Po have been making big strides since establishing Ponder.er just three years ago, during the onset of the pandemic. The timing gave the creative duo space to question and rethink fashion conventions.
For Ponder.er, sustainability transcends numbers and instead enters into every aspect of the brand’s dynamic textures, sensual silhouettes, and ethereal opacities. Sustainability doesn’t exist within a vacuum; it is interconnected to a web of community, politics, and relationships. What we put on our body tells a story. In this case, that story is about liquid genders, confidence and freedom, and the very materials that envelop us.
From design (playing with weight and shapes using abandoned mattresses and tarpaulins) to production (choosing to work with small local production houses), Ponder.er is adding new dimensions to what it means to wear something with care for our bodies, our community, and our environment.
Since winning the Hong Kong Redress Design People’s Award in 2012, Angus Tsui has not looked back, soon launching his eponymous label. Sleek, sharp, and shapeshifting, Tsui’s futuristic style is not only worldbuilding in its imaginative and experimental storytelling, but also in how he chooses to produce.
Tsui uses zero-waste, up-cycling, and reconstructive design techniques. From locally sourcing excess fabric stock, to printing digitally with eco-friendly ink, the Hong Kong–based fashion designer is asking us to reimagine what #Xenofuturism looks like, and how sustainability could be the nexus of it all.
Yat Pit, meaning “one stroke” in Cantonese, was founded by creative duo On-ying Lai and Jason Mui in 2015. Both returning from Hong Kong after their respective time in the U.K., they sought to write traditional materials into contemporary relevance—one stroke at a time.
They’re funny too — the label’s Instagram features a step-by-step tutorial of how to make a tie-dyed TEA-SHIRT… get it?
“Step 6: SUBMERGE BUNDLE INTO HOT TEA TO START DYEING PROCESS, MAKE SURE THE WATER LEVEL IS ABOVE THE TEA SHIRT.“
The TEA-SHIRT recalls the label’s many experiments with sustainable fashion, including making clothes with mud silk—a natural-plant-dyed, biodegradable fibre stemming from a 2500-year tradition in Southeast China; and making clothes with one piece of cloth.
Grey and black stripes coalesce, resembling the geometry of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers and omnipresent hue of concrete. Patterns converge and diverge on the dynamic knitwear of Love From Blue—a label founded by Redress Fashion Award’s 2020 winner Grace Lant.
Centred on their motto of “transfiguration,” Love From Blue rescues leftover cashmere and wool yarns that big brands discard from overorders, and turns them into beautiful stories and memories in the form of fabric.
“Hong Kong manufacturers and tailors are much more open to sharing their resources than people realise, or even helping up-and-coming sustainable designers,”
Lant says. The brand is a testimony to its love for our Earth, for style, but also how love among the community is what keeps sustainability alive.
Founded by LGBT activist and female entrepreneur Kayla Wong, Basics for Basics—true to its name—calls for us all to start at square one.
Revolving around the basic, yet often neglected, ethics of love and equality, the label creates products made with and for care. Surplus fabric and organic cotton are transformed into pieces designed monthly by local creatives, which partly become funding for HandsOn Hong Kong, a local charity with the mission to “empower everyone in Hong Kong to volunteer.”
For Kayla Wong and Basics for Basics, sustainable clothing is only the first step. What’s next? A community guided by the brand’s core values.
The up-and-coming Hong Kong–born DJ Olivia Xiaolin is sporting Skin of Nature’s neon yellow jacket, roaming through the city at night. Made of pioneering biodegradable polyamide, the jacket flows with the wind, almost becoming part of it. This harmony between fashion and nature tells you all about the brand.
Elena Beraldo started visualising a conscious brand that not only protects, but also celebrates nature. Since 2016, the label has created high quality activewear in zero-waste, chemical-free style. While the blue and white yoga set echoes the ocean’s shifting waves, the biker short’s silhouette mirrors the curves of Hong Kong’s mountainscapes—at every turn, nature lies at the very core of the label.
Whether you’re heading to an early morning gym session, on your way to work, grabbing your afternoon coffee, or walking around the city with your friends at night—Lane Eight has all your moves covered. The shoe brand is not only committed to your performance, but also the planet.
Consciously produced with recycled plastic bottles and natural materials like algae and eucalyptus, the shoe works to reduce your carbon footprint, but certainly not your step count.