Yes, you can still enjoy beautiful things – it's all about shopping with a conscience. We let you in on our favourite ethical and environmentally-friendly fashion in Singapore.
We know how difficult it is to kick a high-street shopping habit. As hard as we try to reduce waste by renting clothes and only shopping for high-quality wardrobe essentials, it’s a struggle to resist the allure of high street stores.
Our inspiring interviews with Style Theory’s Raena Lim, Green is the New Black founder Stephanie Dickson, Mahima Gujral Wadhwa of Sui and Raye Padit of The Fashion Pulpit are real eye-openers about the part we all play in consumption, waste and pollution. Yes, we can still enjoy beautiful things but the point is to think about what you’re putting your money towards, what you really need and to shop with a conscience – this means supporting brands that aren’t just environmentally friendly, but ethical too.
If your style tends toward bold prints, head-turning patterns and vibrant colours, OliveAnkara will sit high on your list. Deeply rooted in African culture and fashion, these pieces are a breath of fresh air. As everything is handmade, two pieces are never the same. OliveAnkara also abides by a strict #zerowaste philosophy, where every spare fabric is upcycled and used to make other items.
OliveAnkara, #01-02, 79 Chay Yan Street (opposite Plain Vanilla), Singapore 160079
We love a sleek bikini around here so swimwear that’s stylish, functional and affordable is like music to our ears. Founder and designer Beckie Liu brought SG’s first surf-swimwear brand, Haikini to life when she realised there was a gap in the industry. With these designs, you don’t have to worry about your bikini falling off the next time you hit the waves. All pieces are handmade in Bali by lovely Haikini mamas who are paid fair wages to support their households. Oh, and the adorable pouches that comes with the swimwear are made with leftover fabric. *Squeals in delight.*
Haikini, available online.
This brand that champions traditional batik techniques works closely with textile artisans and cooperatives and expert craftsmen, to bring you conscious pieces with a story. Select from a maxi dress or jumpsuit or add some character to your ensemble with a bag or clutch. Clothes aside, you can extend it to your home with gorgeous cushion covers.
Gypsied, available online.
Firstly, we have to thank Ashepa Lifestyle for introducing Afroluxe to Singapore. The person behind it all is the Kenya-born, Singapore-based Chetna Bhatt. Second, she collaborates with African artisans and makers to showcase their incredible skills to the world, in turn uplifting their lives and honouring age-old crafts. The result? Hand-painted ceramic jewellery, handwoven basket bags and unique homewares for us!
Ashepa Lifestyle, available online and at Departures & Arrivals, Badger & Fox.
The handcrafted statement earrings at Boheme are works of art with a selection of semi-precious stones such as agate, moonstone, rose quartz, onyx and mother of pearl. All designs are handcrafted by artisans from India, in a workshop in Jaipur. The brand also is actively involved with The Shanti Foundation, a charity organization in Bali that provides scholarships for underprivileged children.
Boheme, available online.
Partnering with artisanal communities in India, this homegrown label is ethical and low impact, going for timelessness in its designs. New collections are released throughout the year in collaboration with a women’s group in Udaipur that provides employment in the city and nearby villages. The brand’s design base is located directly alongside the community that produces its garments, and each drop is created in limited batches to reduce waste as much as possible. If you’re wondering, only natural fabrics are used and scraps are repurposed for packaging, too. For its first collection, you’ll see elements of mirror embroidery, Dabu painting and Bandhani, a tie dye technique from India.
Wray Crafted, available online.
By Invite Only
We’re no stranger to By Invite Only’s chic and minimalist (not to mention, affordable) jewellery. The brand also works with factories that are members of the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) a system that supports companies to encourage social compliance and improvements in the work environment. They’ve also eliminated plastic from their packaging, which gets a thumbs up from us!
By Invite Only, #01-K19/20, Vivocity, 1 Habourfront Walk Singapore 098585; Level 1 Atrium #01-43, Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road, Singapore 238877 and online.
If you’re new to Matter, here’s what you need to know: it champions connected clothing – essentially knowing where something is made, and by whom. All of its items boast story and soul; its heritage-based fabrics are crafted by artisans in India, then finished off in a fair trade factory, where garment construction is the speciality. The brand even boasts an organic cotton line of breezy, yet structured pants, as well as ones made from biodegradable fabrics.
Matter, available online.
Canvas and Weaves
A brand that combines art with fashion, Canvas and Weaves is a platform that features mixed media, watercolour, charcoal and acrylic works alongside wearable art. Working with artists who love to experiment and push the boundaries, it looks away from trends and focuses instead on classy designs that are dramatic yet minimal. In its commitment to sustainability and the environment, it spotlights handcrafted dresses, jumpsuits and scarves made with organic materials by names like Shades of India, Moborr and AlterEgo.
Canvas and Weaves, available online and at selected pop-ups.
Founded by Susannah Jaffer, Zerrin is dedicated to building a community of shoppers who #shopmeaningfully. The one-stop shop for all things ethical is home to a variety of eco-conscious and socially responsible fairtrade jewellery lines and handmade clothing. It’s even got some of Singapore’s best organic beauty brands in stock, including Frank Skincare and Biconi.
Zerrin, available online.
Eco Staples was launched with the aim of providing a greener alternative to a wardrobe basic: The t-shirt. Its bamboo range of Essential tees are comfortable, versatile and soft to the touch, with anti-bacterial, odour resistant, UV protection and hypoallergenic properties. Plus, they come in easy-to-match colours like black, white and grey, with crew, scoop or v-neck options, so you can easily wear ’em to the gym or for some weekend fun!
Eco Staples, available online.
We’ll come out and say it right now: Soft t-shirts make us go weak in the knees. So when we heard of a sustainable fashion brand which delivers this, we rejoiced! Under-the-radar Source Collections ticks all the right boxes – its t-shirts are made with quality, sustainable fabrics and are delivered in eco-friendly and plastic-free packaging. Best of all, it takes care of its workers, with excellent working conditions. The Honeycombers team got to play with the Source Collection range, and it’s safe to say we’ve found the perfect t-shirt here.
Source Collections, available online.
Bed linens aren’t the first thing you’ll think of when you hear the word ‘sustainable’, which is why we applaud local brand Sojao’s championing of its 100% organic cotton sheets. Think the higher the thread count, the better? Sojao proves you wrong. These sheets are seriously soft, despite being only 300 thread count. The secret is in the thread used – they’re made of single-ply yarn spun from long-staple (the shorter they are, the rougher they are) cotton fibers. And with all that time spent rolling around in your sheets, it’s always good to know that you’re not getting cosy with toxic pesticides. Sojao’s sheets are treated with low impact dyes, and without formaldehyde resin and toxic chemical fabric finishes.
Sojao, available online.
The first subscription-based men’s underwear brand in Asia is now available in Singapore, and we were the lucky ones who got to experience it first. Bundies undies are unbelievably soft, as they’re made with high quality sustainable certified fabrics like 100% organic cotton and Lenzing Modal, which is harvested from sustainable beechwood forestry plantations in Europe and proven to be twice as soft as cotton. Three styles are available: knitted trunks, knitted boxers and woven boxers. Whatever you pick, comfort is king. The knitted trunks, for instance, have a no-roll waistband, and fabric that does not ride up your legs.
Bundies, available online.
And now one for the girls: new local label Terie has delivered the perfect bralette (Honeycombers ed Selina rates them as the best she’s ever bought). Made from organic bamboo so it’s breathable and super soft (and made with a smaller environmental footprint); wireless for comfort and in several shades of nude for women with different skin tones, Terie is making ticking all the right boxes for us. And we have to applaud that the brand features real women with different body types in its campaigns, which we absolutely love. We found the Terie at a pop-up market, but you can also stock up from our friends at the WYLD Shop.
Terie on Facebook.
Mark our words, local womanswear label Esse is one to watch. Born out of a desire to redefine “disposable” mindsets towards fashion, the brand delivers quality classics made of more sustainable fabrics like tencel, bamboo and 100% organic cotton. Esse prioritises knowing and respecting its partners, with regular visits to its seamstress at its factories in Ho Chi Minh. Design-wise, we love that it combines clean silhouettes with neutrals.
Esse, available online.
We love how dedicated Icelandic jewellery brand Twin Within is to its cause; all of its pieces are handmade by mothers in need, as part of its partnership with the FOCOLARE organisation, located in the hills of Tagaytay in the Philippines. Based in Singapore, its current featured collection melds elegant designs with utilitarian materials.
Twin Within, available online.
We’ve heard of ethical beauty, fashion, and even food, but sneakers? That’s a first. At Veja, all of its shoes are crafted in Brazil, and made with only sustainable materials – its soles are made with natural rubber from the Amazon, while everything else is made with vegetable-tanned leather and ecological cotton. Perhaps best of all? They’re sleek and minimal, and will fit right in with the rest of your sneaker rack.
Veja, available at Zalora.
Everything in Zhai’s collections are made with natural fibres like bamboo and flax-made linen. But both fabrics aren’t just great for the environment– they’re also perfect for your skin, providing relief from Singapore’s hot weather thanks to its moisture-wicking abilities and air permeability. Here, you’ll find everyday basics of flare pants, maxi dresses and cardigans.
Zhai, locations at Funan Mall, West Gate, The Green Collective at Kinex, United Square.
Not to be confused with the club, volunteer-run Baliza makes socially conscious beachwear inspired by chic resortwear often seen in Bali and Ibiza’s beaches. Its clothing lineup – made up of long dresses, sarongs and cover ups – is entirely handcrafted by artisans of Ladli, a vocational centre called i-india in Jaipur, using ancient fabric making techniques.
Baliza, available online and at Ship of Time Lifestyle Store and August Society.
Eco-friendly since 2009, Etrican doles out sustainable threads produced in a GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified factory in Tiripur, India. All apparel here is made with organic cotton, and are kept at wallet-friendly prices. Think everyday casual wear of loose maxis and printed, short flirty dresses for the weekend.
Etrican, available online.
Heads of State
If it’s a show-stopping hat you seek, you’ll love Heads of State – the brand delivers luxurious hats that are bold, loud, and more importantly, sustainable. All of its designs are made without the use of glues, chemical sprays and with eco-friendly resources.
Heads of State, available at #02-22 The Emporium, Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Road Singapore 247933
Jewellery with a conscience? We’re sold. Travel-inspired Tessellate.Co works with Fair Trade artisans and commits to empowering underprivileged girls with education. For every item sold, the boutique donates a dollar to Fior Di Loto, a non-profit organisation in India that improves the lives of over 500 village girls. Bling here is nothing less than stunning, with designs inspired by Southeast Asia’s traditional jewellery. Our picks include the 925 Silver rings from the Bold and Dare collection and Vera pendant necklaces made with labradorite.
Tessellate.Co, #02-14, Wheelock Place 501 Orchard Road, Singapore 238880 and online.