In the world of women’s fashion, “sustainable” was once a term most companies wanted to sweep under the rug and forget about. Not because brands were not capable of coming up with forward thinking solutions related to sustainability, but because action plans and follow-through were not taken seriously. One mention of “eco-friendly” or “responsible” invoked the idea of obsolete, unwanted clothing or second-hand apparel that was out of season. Luckily, these outdated ideas are taking a backseat to an increasing amount of companies making a true commitment to improve. It’s not enough anymore to “just say” and not actually “do” anything.
Like most industry-shifts, consumer behavior has been the main driver behind the change. Customers have become increasingly knowledgeable about the pitfalls of the manufacturing process- especially as it relates to the rise of exploitation and excess waste created by the apparel industry. There is now a vast amount of data available to the public that shows the catastrophic impact of fast fashion. It’s often cited that the fashion industry is now the second largest polluting industry behind fossil fuels.*
Therefore, it’s no surprise now that there is a new wave of brands being born that attempt to fix the glaring deficiencies in the current supply chain and forge positive reform. This renaissance is evident here in Hong Kong where there have been a few brands that have come on the scene that look great but also are great (or at least much better) for the environment.
To help you shop with a clean conscious we’ve put together a list of a few our favorite brands below. From stylish active wear and comfy wardrobe essentials- to beautiful, minimalist clothes for going out- these brands offer to upgrade your wardrobe in a more responsible way.
Certified for sweater weather.
Founded by Grace Lant, this laidback knit-wear label is filled with inspiration and texture. The structure and designs incorporate the diverse landscapes Hong Kong has to offer – from peaceful mountains surrounding the skyscraper-packed city to the serene beaches hidden in the outlying islands.
Their first collection, Drop One, features three well chosen designs. The first is made of wool and is inspired by Tai Long Wan beach in Sai Kung. The second- a cashmere sweater taking influence from the distinctively pink buildings found in the city. The third contains a yak and wool blend, with colors and textures brainstormed from the common pastime of hiking in Hong Kong.
Moving away from the traditional pre-order model for sourcing material, their Hong Kong based team sources deadstock yarn from small products and reworks them into a durable, but easy to wear material. Their oversized raglan knit is laid-back, comfortable- perfect for the winter weather. Check them out online and keep an eye out for their pop-up in Sai Ying Pun.
Where modern- day women’s apparel meets retro revival.
With a mission to reduce carbon footprint while utilizing plant-based fibers for their garments, Róu So is another brand committed to truly sustainable apparel practices. Their website contains something for everybody, especially for those who love a vintage flair. The stylish, slick cowl neck top pairs well with pants and heels to tiered dress- the perfect stylish outfit for work. The clothes are breezy and work as everyday pieces that can be dressed up with a pair of ankle boots or toned down with sneakers to kick back and relax on the weekend.
In addition, Róu So offers beautiful swimwear that can be pre-ordered now online. They offer vintage, pastel styles using REPREVE©- a fiber made of 100% recycled, post-consumer plastic bottles, the material emits fewer greenhouse gasses while conserving water in the energy process.
Celebrating the beauty of growth and strengthening of the mind and body.
I became familiar with Rising Lotus a few years ago and it has quickly become one of my favorite athleisure brands to wear during my workouts or walks. Inspired by women who love to adventure freely and work fiercely, the exercising wear is colorful with up-to-date cuts which can be transformed from the studio, to on-the-go wear for a busy day sans the trip to the office.
Having fostered relationships with numerous manufacturers, Rising Lotus uses recycled materials in defiance to fast fashion, making sure bras, tops, and leggings aren’t just high quality, but will stand the test of time. The materials are soft, with 80% of the collection using recycles polyester originally sourced from post-consumer recycled plastic. Washed, melted, and spun into strands of yarn, the use of recycled single use plastic decreases greenhouse gases, and are made to be recycled again. The brand has also partnered with Eden Reforestation Projects, committed to giving back and restoring lush, areas which are at risk or have faced deforestation.
Ready to wear dresses and ensembles, perfect for winter events
Founded by Cherry Leung, Sau Lee is a female-run business offering chic separates as well as beautiful gowns and dresses. Their timeless pieces contain an east-meets-west aesthetic which are great from work to weekend or for special functions such as events, weddings, and gala’s. The cuts are flattering, feminine, and sexy without even trying. Sau Lee’s inspirations come directly from the diverse Hong Kong crowd.
The fabrics used for most of their collections comprise of natural, raw materials which include biodegradable rayon and viscose, or overstock base fabric that would go to waste otherwise. They also monitor their stock closely to avoid overproduction and use recycled materials for shipping as well. The dresses are perfect for the holiday season- this has to be one of my favorite Hong Kong based brands.
Tried and tested, even sneaker fanatics will fall in love.
For the those who love working out or want to be comfy in their daily commute, Lane Eight is the shoe brand for you. This sustainability brand that has caught the athleisure world’s attention- most likely you have heard of them before. With their statement monochrome colors or easy to wear color block looks, the shoes have been tried, tested, and guaranteed to be comfy and light on your feet.
Lane Eight works exclusively with BLOOM™ which harvests toxic algae found in freshwater lakes and rivers which is then dried, processed and used to supply for the midsole cushion. The recycled plastic yarn is created from single plastic bottles, with around 11 bottles being used for each pair. Lastly, a vegan microfiber overlay for added ventilation and stability.
Luxury loungewear with a millennial-centric take.
Alibi is made for lounging around at home and will become your future travel essentials for long haul plane rides. With two collections – the Luxe, which contains neutral and pastel hues, and the Neo which are vibrant, bold colors, the pieces are basic wardrobe essentials, perfect for everybody’s closet.
Anti-microbial material is used to make the cool street style loungewear. The brand is passionate about easy on the environment and hard on harmful bacteria. Partnering with Silvatur™, a Dupont technology which leverages silver ions to prevent odour, bacteria, mould, and mildew to form on the clothes. The brand is newly launched and will be expanding their fabrics to recycled materials in the future.
Consciously created active wear with simple cuts
Not only will buyers feel good about understanding Good Days’ conscious creations and where the materials are coming from, but they will look stylish and minimalist. Their simple pieces work well for your everyday workout with its stretchy materials. Their crop top is a must buy, and also goes cute with a pair of joggers and sneakers for a slick, athleisure look.
With a focus on fabric, manufacturing, and packaging, Good Days sources the majority of their materials from recycled plastic waste such as ghost fishing nets, nylon carpets, and plastic bottles which are repurposed into a high-quality material. Working with FENC© and TopGreen©, the 100% traceable post consumer plastic material is used to make leggings and sports bra, while polyester with a cotton blend from REPREVE© create soft, fluid fabric to wick moisture. All online orders are packaged with biodegradable cassava starch, with tags and inserts made form recycled papers. A Guppyfriend washbag will come with your purchase to protect fibre shedding and reduce microplastic afloat in your laundry.
Did we miss any of your favourite Hong Kong based sustainable brands? We’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in more ways to make your closet more sustainable? Check this out: Where to Thrift in Hong Kong.
Written exclusively for WELL, Magazine Asia by Ashley Tang