Hong Kong’s ethical fashion brands need our help

Hong Kong designer Kay Li's creative designs

We’ve heard it all: millennials are entitled, flippant and impulsive—always glued to their phones and deciding what to do based on what’ll look best for the ‘gram. Well, think again. In the last year or two, Millennials have not only grown to dominate society (in most part for their spending power) but have also matured. However, have millennials really managed to change fashion for good?   

Brands in Asia and across the world are vying against each other in their bid to capture the millennial audience, this includes big names such as Balenciaga (who just topped Business of Fashion’s The Hot Brands list), Louis Vuitton and Gucci as well. Thanks to the Internet and social media, almost nothing is exclusive anymore. Millennials might be more cost-conscious but that doesn’t mean they don’t spend—they’re just holding everyone accountable to higher standards.

In response, the Kering Group have made significant steps towards sustainability with the likes of Stella McCartney, Gucci (who recently renounced the use of fur) and other luxury labels.

As Stella McCartney aptly put it, in our interview with her back in October: “We live in an age where people have access to information and should be made uncomfortable. Let’s make them feel uncomfortable. They can take it or leave it.”

It’s the lifestyle we lead, which makes the difference—both for ourselves and for society at large. Armed with higher levels of cultural and social awareness, we’re attracted to brands who are not only authentic but also speak to both our values and passions. Hence, the surge in popularity for yoga, organic food (read: just look at Beyond Burger) and experiences over material goods.

It’s no longer just about the label you wear but what that says about you – right now, the best way to look cool is to support the environment and the world around us. However, this is only the beginning. For this change to stick, millennials have to hold up their end of the bargain too and continue to sustain the demand for more ethically-responsible brands and products.

The next time you head out for a bit of shopping in Hong Kong, ditch the fast fashion and check out some of the city’s best ethical fashion brands:

Paper Shades

Environmentally-friendly sunglasses in every colour you could want from Paper Shades

Started by two siblings James and Madi Chu, Paper Shades creates 100% sustainable sunglasses made from recycled paper, UV400 lenses and non-toxic glues. They’re also easy to dismantle, thereby minimising the efforts and harm caused by complex recycling systems.

Looking to add that special touch to your next event or party? Paper Shades can brand, designer and tailor their sunglasses just for you and are also gearing up to launch their new collection on Kickstarter – so watch their space for more ways to support.



If you're a fan of Redress and the EcoChic Awards, you'll love their sister brand BYT

One of the first to promote sustainability and eco-friendly fashion in Hong Kong, Redress (a Hong Kong-based NGO working to reduce textile waste in the industry) have finally decided to start their own affordable up-cycled fashion brand BYT, which launched last September. The team is made up of experts from Redress and previous judges and participants from their EcoChic Design Awards. Their chic designs are made sustainably (that includes zero waste, upcycling and reconstruction)—a typical upcycled BYT jacket has a 60% reduced carbon footprint compared with a similar jacket using virgin (read: new) materials.

What’s more? You they don’t just sell clothes, they also offer pieces for rent (in collaboration with Yeechoo) and each piece can sent back for small repairs (note: not alterations, reconstructions or for redesign). They even encourage customers to send their garments back to them instead of throwing them away, so that they can pass it onto Redress to recycle.



A.C.F carries men's and women's lines

Hong Kong-based brand A.C.F is a contemporary streetwear brand which blends minimalistic shapes with bright colours. Their mantra is: “it’s better to do a little something, than a lot of nothing.” Their entire manufacturing and production process is fair-trade and the brand only uses vegan materials and is continually looking for new sustainable sources. Currently their garments are made from mostly deadstock fabric (fabric which would have otherwise ended up in the landfill) and recycled Tencel and Viscose.


Basics for Basics

Basics for Basics: millennial minimalism at its eco-finest (credit: @gailelok)

Founded by Kayla Wong (the daughter of Michael Wong and former Hong Kong model Janet Ma), Basic for Basics is an online platform which designs and sells ethical clothing. They ensure that every item they stock are fair-trade and socially-responsible products. We love their unique volunteer programme with Hands on Hong Kong where customers can volunteer to gain points  that can be collective for exclusive discounts and rewards.


Rumi X

Rumi X offers you a chance to promote mindful activewear

Rumi X are slowly but surely garnering more and more global attention thanks to their beautiful and youthful designs. Based in Hong Kong, Rumi X offer eco-conscious activewear made from sustainable materials such as recycled plastic bottles, upcycle coffee ground and water-based ink dyes. Despite using sustainable fabrics, their sporty pieces make no compromise on quality or performance standards. Designed by fitness experts, their pieces are tried and tested to be stretchy, breathable and sweat-wicking.

This is truly a homegrown brand with their HQ in Hong Kong and materials and manufacturing done in Taiwan and China—the close proximity means that they’re fully aware and in control throughout the desining and production process.


Kay LiEco design meets luxury

Hong Kong-born fashion designer Kay Li launched her eponymous label back in 2012. This edgy ready-to-wear label is based in Hong Kong but the design and manufacturing is currently carried out in Dubai. Her well-tailored and innovative yet super-wearable pieces feature beautiful and luxurious textiles for the powerful, successful woman. Her line is trans-seasonal and eco-friendly, made from sustainable and organic threads.


A Boy Named Sue

Check out A Boy Named Sue's curated selection of eco-friendly designers

Launched in 2012, A Boy Named Sue is out to prove that “ethics and aesthetics are not mutually exclusive [with] cool clothes with a conscience.” Their online eco-friendly boutique sells unique easy-to-wear pieces from some of the most talented up-and-coming eco-conscious designers from around the world. They also collaborate with local Hong Kong designers to promote more eco-friendly practices throughout the industry.


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