Conscious fashion: 7 Malaysian labels keeping the planet and the people in mind
As conscious shoppers, the best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to go preloved. But if you're looking for something new, there are plenty of local brands that are putting in the effort to tackle the complex issues of the industry across different areas. Whether it is less waste, environmentally low-impact materials or community-minded practices, the easiest way to shop consciously is to think about what the most important thing is to you––instead of trying to find the perfect company that's accounting for everything.
Below, we've rounded up our latest pick of local fashion brands who are innovating towards a better, greener planet:
LTTL creates ethical wardrobe staples under a design philosophy focused on zero waste and pattern-cutting through the use of recyclable materials like Tencel and Oeko-tex-certified linen. Expect simple, wearable garments in the form of comfortable dresses and co-ordinated sets under a recent collaboration with local multi-hyphenate Bay Doucet.
For the women hustlers, Wustler offers dreamily luxurious sleepwear, intimates and loungewear to elevate your everyday. Their thoughtfully designed garments are lightweight, comfortable and crafted with a silky blend of rayon and viscose––made out of regenerated cellulose fibre from wood pulp. They only use certified non-toxic and environmentally-friendly dyes across all products, and one per cent of total sales gets donated to female empowerment non-profit Women's Earth Alliance (WEA) every year.
If you're in the market for new activewear, Terrae can help you look good during your workouts without costing the planet. Their earth-toned sets are made out of Econyl regenerated nylon, a 100 per cent recycled fibre made from ocean waste, while GOTS-certified cotton and upcycled deadstock were used for the recent loungewear collection of baby tees and sweatshorts. To minimise their carbon footprint, garments arrive in consciously-created packaging that includes FSC-certified tags, collateral sleeves and a plant-based, 100 per cent biodegradable garment bag.
Former chemical engineer Nelissa Hilman combines her passion for science and arts with the establishment of her namesake footwear label in 2012. The women-led company produces handcrafted shoes for both men and women featuring classic designs with a distinctive youthfulness, emphasising stylish comfort without compromising the environment. Produced locally in small batches to minimise waste, their collections are made out of responsibly sourced materials including EU-standard faux leather materials and 10 per cent recycled rubber for their outsoles.
Female-founded Hanya creates beautifully narrated collections under four pillars: feminine, functional, relatable and comfortable. Find timeless basics named after iconic women under their essential edits, alongside a range of dreamy linen dresses, blazers, shirts and loungewear under themes of self-love. They also offer various types of stylish face masks that include reusable satin silk designs and printed disposable versions that are medical grade, hypoallergenic and comes with a reusable ziplock bag. For the pieces that didn't make the cut, their upcycling initiative repurposes unsold items in their inventory for more than 12 months to give old designs a second life.
Founded by Sisters Atiyya Zulkarnain and Najmia Zulkarnain, conscious select store Unplug is the ultimate destination for sustainable products with a positive social impact. The marketplace supports small businesses from Malaysia and around the world to offer a curation of eco-friendly and socially driven products spanning home, apparel, personal care and accessories. Local highlights include Xue's reworked bucket hats and totes upcycled from denim scraps and the biodegradable batik swimwear of Johor-based Dona Plant Base.
Upon discovering how harmful synthetic fibres were to the environment, Ariff Faisal joined forces with his best friend Haris Kamal to birth Kualesa, a direct-to-consumer company championing eco-conscious products in the form of bamboo apparel. As such, the brand's multi-occasional tees and polos are crafted out of bamboo lyocell, a biodegradable alternative to cotton and polyester that is anti-bacterial, breathable and supremely soft on the skin––not to mention that 99 percent of the water and chemicals used in its creation are reclaimed and reused in a closed-loop process. Their Batik Tribute polos are the undeniable stars of the show, and does exactly what its name says: pay homage to the traditional motifs of Parang, Truntum and Kawung in representation of the brand's mission for longevity.
Looking for more ethical fashion brands doing social good in Malaysia? Read our previous round-up here.