In Conversation: The Rise of Sustainable Fashion


Sustainable - a buzzword that means different things to different people. To some, it might mean a marketing ploy or a reason to justify higher price tags but to others like Susannah Jaffer and Su Pei Ho, it embodies a lifestyle.

Susannah, 30, started her multi-label fashion platform 3 years ago when she was a magazine editor and transitioned to focus on it full-time. The platform, is well-stocked with international labels that are centered around being sustainable, green and ethical. Browsing the site is an exercise in control; the temptation to cart out an entire new look, from apparel, to cosmetics and accessories is strong.

“My line of work gave me even more exposure to the amount of waste in fashion. I got to a point in my career where it was clear to me that there was a lack of quality in fast fashion brands and I started wanting to pursue things that mattered to me,” she said of her move into being a full-time entrepreneur.

Sustainable fashion no longer brings to mind unsophisticated-looking apparel that looks like it was cut from a burlap sack. A quick search online pulls up a wide variety of labels that put out pieces as trendy as those in high fashion brand storefronts, except for the fact that they come with the added bonus of an ethos that benefits the world. For consumers, making the shift to buying into a greener, cleaner, better choice should gradually be second nature. After all, the initial high of post-purchase satisfaction will wear off but the positive effects of making a conscious choice has a larger effect on the world.

Su Pei Ho, founder of Su By Hand, started her sustainable womenswear label as a passion project 2 years ago. Having spent her entire career in fashion overseas, she had front row seats to witnessing the waste that is rife in the industry.

In response to that, some of the pieces she produces are in hues derived from floral and fruit dyes, she also uses eco-friendly fabric Tencel. Her creations are also made in small batches or made to order so as to reduce waste.

“Because Singapore is a very trend-driven market, I hope there would be a more genuine and in-depth interest in fashion that goes beyond trends. For that to happen, we need a shift in mindset - for us to see what we buy as investments rather than just consumption,” said Su Pei.

Susannah also said, “I hope more local and Asian consumers learn about the impact of what they buy and wear. I would love people to equate sustainability with being money smart and to be more conscious of where they put their money towards.”

Building a sustainable wardrobe for yourself does not call for an overhaul of neither your existing collection nor your style. Every piece of clothing deserves deliberation before clicking “Complete Purchase” or swiping your credit card, regardless of price. Taking the time to educate yourself on where your new buys come from is another form of contribution.

The next time you walk into a store or browse online, whether you end up with a new acquisition or you close the tab, do know you’ll be making a tangible impact on the world.

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