My style tastes have definitely changed since moving to Singapore. I got bored very quickly with the shops on offer and craved something different from the masses. Not only did that prompt me along my way to discover lots of cool new independent designers, it has made me a bit more mindful of where my clothes come from.
Prior to this, I wouldn’t have exactly called myself a shopaholic, but you’d still see me browsing fast fashion chains like Zara, H&M and New Look probably a bit more than I should! And when I did a bit more research into it all recently, it’s pretty amazing how non-transparent most fashion labels are about their supply chains. For most international brands, the issue isn’t even addressed or publicised. Sure, the label on your clothing may indicate the piece has been made in Bangladesh or Thailand, but under what conditions?
– The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world (the first is oil!)
– Over 60% of companies don’t actually know where they clothing is made
– Over 90% aren’t sure where their raw materials and fabrics are sourced from
Granted, I understand that people need jobs to survive, and wages are far less in many of these manufacturing countries than we’d expect in the “developed” world. But, I think that moving forward, it’s up to us as consumers to ask these questions to be a bit more mindful. Put it this way: if you’re paying $5 for a t-shirt or dress at full price, someone isn’t getting paid – and there’s nothing morally right about that. The current Ivy Park sportswear scandal springs to mind.
All of these factors have made me resolve to try and shop more responsibly and sustainably from now on. Of course, it’s not realistic to not buy anything, but making more responsible purchases – being conscious of where your clothes really come from and how they are made – is always a possibility. It’s something I’ll be talking about more in posts to come, so watch this space!
So, when I first heard about the latest ASOS Africa collection from their insta feed – a new range of fair trade clothing hand made at a self-sustaining factory in Africa – I kept my eyes peeled until it launched and then shopped when it dropped! Produced in collaboration with a cool London-based fashion designer named Christine Mhando, the collection is made by SOKO Kenya, a clothing manufacturing company based in Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary in Kenya.
The factory itself was set up in 2009 with the principle of paying fair wages, providing a clean working environment and social service for it’s workers – that’s a big deal when the area has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. With prostitution and wildlife poaching apparently some of the only other ways to make a living, SOKO has provided both men and women a safer and alternative way to support themselves, empowering them and equipping them with skills to take forward for the future. What’s more, the factory building itself has eco-friendly features, including being made from compressed earth as a raw material, plus ventilation gaps throughout allow air to circulate and minimise the need for electric fans.
The cute skater dress I’m wearing here is just one of the pieces I’ve bought from the new collection (I’m sure you’ll see the rest on my instagram over the next few weeks). I must say that the textured woven material and quality is really very good, and noticeably better made than quite a few things I’ve bought on ASOS in the past (and I can legit say that, as I’ve bought from the site on and off since 2008!)
I LOVE the unique graphic floral print, and it went really well with a few other favourites in my wardrobe, including a fringed leather clutch bag by Desti Saint (a lovely expat designer based here – check out her leather bags which carry the Chinese symbol for Double Happiness) and leather heels handmade in Bali from The Tui Collection (they have a store in Cluny Court!)
|Heels by The Tui Collection|
|Bag by Desti Saint|