Monday 25 November 2019
The Le Relais recycle centre in France treats 20 metric tonnes of second-hand clothes daily. Photo: AFP

Our fashion choices shouldn’t cost us the earth. As consumers, fashionable or otherwise, we need to make more conscientious buying decisions for a more sustainable fashion future.

But the journey to a more conscious and sustainable closet isn’t that difficult. Here are some great ways to reduce your fashion footprint:

Rent A Dress For Your Next Special Occasion

Have you been invited to a fancy event, and you need a fabulous gown but can’t justify spending an exorbitant amount of money on something you’re probably only going to wear once or twice? Here’s the perfect (and sustainable fashion) solution – dress rentals. Sites like Rent A Dress, PLUSHPorter and Lola Gown enable you to dress to impress on a budget.

Shop Slow Fashion Brand

Let’s start with homegrown labels. It’s always better to support local designers, plus there’s the added benefit of a hugely reduced carbon and fashion footprint. For feminine and timeless pieces, head to Sayang. While the brand has more of an ethical fashion focus (all pieces are locally made using a production house that works with underprivileged women), it pledges to keep mindful at every step of the process, with none of the clothes made in synthetic fabrics and the labels from recyclable material. Two other brands are Real.m and Little, which recently collaborated on a zero-waste capsule unisex collection created from leftover fabric, using 100% natural fibres and plant-based dyes.

Thanks to online shopping, we now have access to some amazing international sustainable fashion brands such as Reformation, the “cool girl” brand for closet-conscious clothes with celebrity fans such as Rihanna and Taylor Swift, and Everlane which offers fashion basics and a line of outerwear made from recycled plastic bottles. Closer to home, Singaporean label Source Collections has a small range of tops made from Tencel, one of the most sustainable fabrics out there.

Buy Second Hand

Buying second-hand clothes is a great way to still indulge in retail therapy while promoting sustainability in the fashion industry. This is because the resale market spurs clothing rotation, not accumulation. With sites like Portluxe and Style Tribute, you can give a second life to (preloved) luxury items from your favourite designer brands without breaking the bank.

If you’re more interested in the “thrift” aspect of thrift shops, bundle shops such as Family Bundle, a warehouse-like shop in Bandar Baru Ampang, KL, is a veritable treasure trove where you can find tops for RM5 and jeans for RM10. For a more curated experience, Blackmarket Preloved Store at REXKL offers fun fashion pieces and Ok Go Store in Subang Jaya will appeal to even the coolest hipsters. If it’s the communal aspect that appeals to you, APW Bangsar hosts a thrift market called Preloved is Reloved – you can keep up to date with their events here.

Recycle Your Clothes

Kloth Cares, a fabric recycling movement with the purpose of keeping fabrics out of landfills, is a great and conscious way of disposing of your unwanted clothes. Head to their Instagram page, @klothlifestyle, to find a recycling bin near you.

Get Inspired By Other Eco-Warriors

The sustainable movement is gaining traction in Malaysia, with a number of influencers adopting and fostering this lifestyle. Melissa Tan (@melissatanlh on Instagram), zero-waste advocate, TV host and model, suggests a couple of fun and unexpected ways to become a wardrobe activist. “Host clothes swaps,’’ says Tan. “It’s a fun and comfortable event, where people tend to be very ‘share-y’, and everyone is styling each other. It’s an act of giving and at the same time the items are given a second life and being homed locally. It makes everyone appreciate their clothes even more.”

Want another way to have a more conscious closet while also appreciating the clothes? Challenge yourself by trying her #stuffineverwear experiment – wearing a different outfit everyday made of all the clothes you avoid and never wear. “I went four months without repeating an outfit. This pushes you to really appreciate your clothes, instead of looking to solve your problems with money; even with second-hand shopping you’re buying something. We need to regain an appreciation of the things we already have, so with this challenge you’re discovering things in your wardrobe that you’ve forgotten about and finding love or value in it. It also helps with a more intentional way of decluttering, giving everything a chance before you get rid of it.”

Related: Plastic Bags Are No Longer In Fashion