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👋 a lot has changed since the last we spoke. I am now back in Singapore, for an indefinite amount of time, until I feel like London is safe enough for me to return. I acknowledge this incredible privilege, but it hasn’t been easy. It has been a crazy week of isolation, breaking down, crying, travelling and finally arriving back home. Humanity hasn’t fallen short, fortunately, strangers are still kind amidst the crazy, my friends are still funny and humourous even though everyone’s going through shit. My family has been nothing but supportive, my mum’s making amazing food and my brother’s at my beck and call (mostly for water refills and ice cream scooping because I can’t leave my room). • I thought I would share some of my WfH outfits — the running theme is that I look presentable (hopefully), but am actually extremely comfortable. And I wear sleeping trousers for bottoms. 2nd pic is my running shorts from primary school wtf I still fit in them!!!! • It’s a crazy time right now, I actually was gonna do a post on the impacts of the coronavirus on the global supply chain and garment workers. But imma lay that off for awhile. I know, that’s an extremely privileged thing to do, but I don’t think you guys need to be told what to do right now. Truth is we all know what to do. But big companies conveniently shun responsibility too easily. Imma tackle that myself first before getting back to everyone 🙂 I’ve been cooped in my room and working on ideas for Fashion Revolution week too, I have some ideas in mind that can be done virtually (aka zoom lol). If anyone’s interested, let me know!! I’ll share them in the coming days. • Keep well, everyone. I hope we are all adjusting to disruptions well. Grieve if you must. Be easy on yourself. Sending love. Be kind to people going through tough shit beyond your imagination, share idle resources. Most importantly, stay home.

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DON’T BE INTIMIDATED BY THE CONCEPT OF SUSTAINABILITY…

“I’d define sustainability simply as something to be done right now. I know sustainability feels like a huge concept and there’s this perception that we’re doing it to ensure a world for the future, but there are things we should – and can – already be doing now to raise awareness. It’s really to ensure that we answer to the consequences of the opacity of the fashion supply chains and be responsible for these consequences. There’s this definition of sustainability put across by this US-based foundation called the Slow Factory Foundation. It says that sustainability happens when everything returns to earth either as food or poison and I think that really encapsulates the movement. In fashion, whatever goes into and comes out of the supply chain should be regenerative and useful, and not harmful to the environment or to humans.”

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We don’t need fashion brands to tell us to buy new to take a stand. There are so much clothes that I’m sure we have plenty to go around and last us for a long time. If all a company does as part of their efforts towards IWD is selling you something, anything — that is simply noise. I am sorry I am not convinced. It is hypocritical, and barely does anything for the welfare and livelihoods of the female garment workers making our clothes. • The women behind-the-scenes deserve equal rights and respect as anyone selling, marketing and purchasing does. • This IWD, DIY your own female-for-female pieces if you really wish to. Upcycle that old t-shirt! @extinctionrebellion @xr.boycottfashion do a great job at that — customising old t-shirts and hoodies with XR stamps instead of selling new merch. On top of that, I know exactly what I will be doing. Emailing brands with @fash_rev’s IWD template to ask how they are empowering each and every woman in their intentionally opaque supply chain. • Demand for transparency as a customer, as a citizen and as a woman on your terms, not the brands’. • #IWD2020 #internationalwomensday #whomademyclothes #fashiontransparency #fashionsupplychain #fashionrevolution #noordinaryprotest

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…OR ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATES IN FASHION

“I think a lot of people think that environmental advocates take fashion too seriously… We’re seen as some sort of moral police and people feel guilt-tripped, but the truth is that I don’t care what you buy or who you buy from. As long as you know that there is an issue, that’s half the job done. It’s also not that I personally don’t like the industry. In fact, I care because I like it very much. I just want a different system and to reimagine other possibilities so that future generations can enjoy fashion the way we do now.”

START SMALL

“Changing the way fashion’s supply chain works is a really big thing for consumers to take on. If we were to draw a parallel to the food industry, the most we as consumers can do is to read labels – in fashion, it means seeing where a product was manufactured and what materials it’s made with. And if you’re a really conscious consumer, you do your own research and see what your own priorities are. Right now, I would say that most people would not have the capacity to care about the whole fashion ecosystem and a good way to start would be to try and focus on a particular area within the overarching umbrella of sustainability. For example, try asking yourself if you are very concerned about the environment in the first place and why you are intending to become more sustainable, then expand from there. It can get very overwhelming and depressing when you try to take in too much information at once.”

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My thoughts on the latest @hm latest conscious collection – I think its super great they used orange peel fibre (silky hand-feel and can be shiny/opaque to accommodate to production needs), pineapple leaf fibre (would otherwise be burnt or chucked away) and Tencel (made from wood pulp), in this collection and despite how little information there is at the moment with the fabric composition of the garments, and still lack of transparency with its manufacturing process.. I am nitpicking here but I am hoping for more information to be released soon. But! Props to this fashion giant for putting spotlight on innovative plant-based types of material that would serve as alternative fabric options to other retailers. Hopefully it means that these companies benefit from the increased visibility and would be made more accessible for smaller fashion companies. I believe its the only good that would come out of it, on top if a leading change they are making. I still don't buy into their marketing campaigns and flowery words they use to describe the collection, but fact is: innovative materials are incorporated and that should be celebrated! Genuine or not, I believe its a break on planet earth that no one is complaining about. Too add on, @hm also promises to only source ethically produced cotton by 2030, and I am excited to see them part ways with fast fashion's rep of disregarding the environment. 🍊🍍 Sources: @pinatex @orangefiberbrand @hm Image: @noordinaryprotest #cleanclothescampaign POST NOTE: while sustainably sourced materials is great, it does not mean that it justifies any reason to be consuming more than we need to. Buy better and buy less! AND be analytical and critical about greenwashing of fast fashion brands. Not all ranges are ethically made and sustainably sourced. Both are not mutually exclusive and they have to co-exist. Consume wisely.

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IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT BUYING ‘RIGHT’

“I feel like whenever the conversation turns to this topic, it’s always about where and what to buy from; what brands should one buy in order to be sustainable. It’s always about buying, but the important thing is to move away from that transactional mindset. If you ask me, I’d like to see a conscious shift away from consumption or at least consuming new products all the time; to move away from overbuying and overconsuming. It’s very easy to become daunted and overwhelmed when you start educating yourself on this huge topic, but this shift from overconsumption – done by re-evaluating your relationship with your wardrobe – is something within consumers’ control. First, assess whether your existing wardrobe can be revamped. Can you style a piece you already have in a different way? Can you swop it for something else instead? I think that’s more important and a lot more environmentally conscious than googling, say, ‘best sustainable brands in Singapore’. Of course, if you want to take things further, you can do so by pushing for systemic change – writing to companies, government boards and so on – but I am fully aware that not everyone has the capacity and time for that.”

DECLUTTER RESPONSIBLY

“If you decide to throw everything away and buy a brand new wardrobe filled with sustainable brands, ultimately that’s not sustainable. Another tip to doing your part to be sustainable is to research the most suitable places to donate your clothes once you’re done re-evaluating your wardrobe. Not every secondhand shop accepts everything, which would also mean that passing on what you’re decluttering to them is really just opting for the easiest way out. It’s the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality, especially with regard to the production of clothes because we don’t see the process for ourselves.”

FIND MEANING IN YOUR WARDROBE

“What we can also do as consumers is to form a relationship with the clothes that we already have so that we don’t feel like we need to fill this void with new ones, which is essentially what drives consumerism. Alternatively we can still shop, but much more selectively with a less-but-better mindset and supporting small, independent labels and designers while at it. Even if these labels don’t explicitly set out to be sustainable, their scale of production in comparison to that of big international labels is by default more sustainable considering their much smaller business models, relationship with suppliers and customers, and so on. It’s also about thinking beyond clothing’s aesthetic value and looking at the emotional value and memories attached to them not only from your own perspective, but also that of the people who made them. From an outsider’s point of view though, the predominant narrative around fashion in Singapore is still very much about commerce; fashion as industry and not so much culture and before we can even move on to asking who made our clothes and how they’re made, we need to rethink what fashion means to us now. I am aware however that’s not on everyone’s mind, which is fair enough because we all have different priorities.”

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According to @fash_rev’s latest Fashion Transparency Index, more than 52% of the brands contacted did not respond to completing the questionnaire used to measure their degree of transparency. However, 46% did and that is a huge increase in the number of brands that responded as compared to previous years. This should be an indication to fashion brands to reframe their business models to focus on not just — who will wear these clothes but who made these clothes. Where they are made, how they are made, what were they made from, and who made them. These are all important questions we have to start asking in spite of the current resistance we are facing from brands and retailers. #noordinaryprotest

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IT’S OKAY TO NOT ALWAYS BE SUSTAINABLY OKAY

Sustainability is a spectrum. There are so many things to talk about, which is why I understand that it can seem intimidating for anyone who wants to step into it. It can seem like an all-or-nothing situation, but it doesn’t have to be. You can definitely take baby steps, but eventually the best way is to read up and research. It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s not a me-against-you situation. It’s us against the system. We’re basically up against conglomerates and billionaires so we shouldn’t be policing each other. We should be a lot more forgiving and not so myopic… It has to be a collaborative process among many players in the system. At the end of the day, it’s not just the consumers’ responsibility. Yes, you can have all the awareness, but until the government steps in to change existing laws and policies, there’s only so much we as consumers can do.”

This article first appeared in the Sept 2020 Not-Your-Usual-September Edition of FEMALE.