Category Archives: WE Ethical

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WE Ethical: WAN & WONG

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Forget about hippy looks in hemp or natural organic. The new eco fashion force is set to inspire the awe out of conventional shoppers. It was a couple of months ago when WE first heard of WAN & WONG - the up and coming eco-fashion label in Hong Kong. After two shows the duo,  Kelvin Wan and Joyce Wong, has finally officially unveiled their debut. 

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WE Ethical: Jellies from JuJu Shoes

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Although summer is an constant reminder of heat and the sun, summer is also an indication of monsoon season. Instead of wearing old wellies in the hot and rainy summer day,  JuJu Shoes provide for a comfortable and statement-making alternative with its jelly shoes. Continue reading

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WE Ethical: Clothing concepts inspired by Japanese architect Tadao Ando

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Architects know best what it takes to achieve sustainability; for every piece of their works is a determining factor of a city’s lifestyle, which is what moulds industry to be the biggest greenhouse emission source. It is a delight to see Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s influences on fashion masterminded by Kowtow, fair trade and organic fashion label, for a new collection aptly named ‘The Silent Space’. Continue reading

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WE Ethical: Vivienne Westwood’s Small Tiger Rucksack

New products by Vivienne Westwood with a good story about the Dame’s dedication to ethical fashion to remind us of.  Continue reading

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WE Ethical: Made with love by sass & bide

Australian womenswear label sass & bide is always a free soul. Without formal fashion training, its founders Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton leaped from their accountant and advertising art director positions to the fashion industry. From denim wear their products expanded to seasonal ready-to-wear without really a long plan (everything just happened in two years). In 2002, when Clarke and Middleton were in New York when Sarah Jessica Parker was filming a scene for Sex and the City, Clarke took out her self-styled denim jacket, handed it to a security guard to give it to Parker, who eventually invited the duo to make a few one-off pieces for the world-famed drama series. Heart is the only thing that guides the designers, and heart has led them to launch ‘Made with Love’ – an ethical fashion initiative in Kenya.

Since late 2012 when sass & bide joined the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a long term project co-organised by the United Nations and World Trade Organisation, the two designers have meant hope to the women of East Africa. The pilot, like the projects of Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney, resulted in a limited-edition shopper and clutch, produced from sustainably sourced materials by around 1,000 local African artisans who did the weaving and beading.

“Sarah-Jane and I recently visited the beautifully skilled artisans in Africa with Marion Hume and Simone Cipriani for the Ethical Fashion Initiative. The craftswomen we met are amongst the most talented in the world.” said Heidi Middleton. “There is a real truth, tradition and honesty about their work. The initiative combines fashion & poverty reduction, by supplying ongoing work for disadvantaged African communities. This assists predominantly women in feeding, educating & caring for themselves and their children.Our visit has created a strong and emotional tie with providing work to African artisans  as we know each product has empowered many women across Africa.”

Upon discovering the city-within-the-city with skilful artisans galore, sass and bide worked with the rural artisans, who eventually started to work at the studio in Nairobi, to produce a limited collection, which means job opportunities to the impoverished.

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“Fashion is a natural partner in the battle against poverty. Ethical choices allow consumers to do good while community producers do well.” — Patricia Francis, Executive Director, ITC 

With little internal demand, the only hope for the skilful but impoverished is from the outside world. Fashion – one of the most dynamic industries in the world – is an important force to combat poverty and empower women, two of the Millennium Development Goals. International Trade Centre states, “by earning a regular income, women can improve the circumstances of their families and their communities. Work enables women to grow in confidence and gain respect. Everything we do is underwritten by solid economics and a strict code of ethics. While our production is 100% ethical and with a strong focus on environmental protection, this is not a niche “eco-fashion” project, instead a vast initiative reaching out to 7,000 artisans and across the world to fashion partners from Rome to Rio to Tokyo. We are truly local and global.”

Of course – by hiring their skills we are not solving all the problems. A sustainable difference can only be made if such ethical collections can be permanent and ongoing – the Made with Love collection is at the moment out of stock. Ultimately to keep it in stock, we must create the demand for them, and it is positive.

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WE Globetrotter: The Tree House, Bangkok

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Maintaining both a low-carbon travel style and comfort is a dilemma to globetrotters like us, and the term ‘eco-tour’ does sound like something that interests nobody but the nature enthusiasts. The rise, as well as ‘urbanisation’, of eco-hotels across tourist capitals is a pleasant trend welcomed by conscious travellers; and WE are delighted by this Bangkok Tree House very close to the centre of the Thai capital.

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“At the Bangkok Tree House, we believe that not everything needs a functional purpose and that sometimes we need to create things that do not only appeal to the head, but also to the heart.”

The Bangkok Tree House is situated in the Bang Krachao district of Bangkok, also known as the Green Lung and a popular destination for urbanite weekenders. A two-minute cross-river ferry ride from the pier at Wat Bang Na Nok on the Bangkok side, the sleepy area is known for its home-stays, a weekend market and elevated narrow bike lanes that wind over mangroves and water hyacinths, flanked by coconut groves and banana trees.

Inspired by – interestingly – Henry David Thoureau’s classic novel Walden, the Bangkok Tree House is a celebration of nature for lovers of trees, plants, exotic lizards, birds, fireflies, cicadas, butterflies, providing cosy nests – including a ‘Room with a View’, where you basically sleep outdoors under the sky, and ‘River Nest’ (take this term literally, it is a floating bed in the middle of a pool). Some nests offer a stunning view over the river or sweet dreams under the stars – where only birds and other animals are watching. There are no roads for cars leading to the Bangkok Tree House, the only way to access this secluded location is by foot, bike or boat.

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No, it’s not a jungle. Quite the opposite, it is a chic complex made of discarded juice cartons, plastic drums (for the pier) and reclaimed wood (for the walkways). There is also a trendy restaurant ‘Reflect’ serving  produce sourced from sustainable fisheries, organic vegetables from local fruit orchards and vegan dishes – made with solar cookers. The Tree-top Nest and the Bee Hive also provide visitors with a private rooftop and lounge for sunbathing.

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Though the Bangkok Tree House stresses that it is not a place for everyone, we think pleasure is well assured. Natural river breeze, maximum ventilation and wind flow due to painstaking architecture design make it unnecessary to have air conditioning. Many parts of the construction use bamboo – a sustainable, fast-growing and beautiful material that also helps cooling. The natural pond is free of chlorine and other chemicals, and it is a rare experience to share with the pond friendly insects and plants. Your laundry will be sun-dried as a natural process of disinfection. Who greet and server you there are 100% locals who know the district, for the hotel only hires locals who live within walking distance from the Tree House, and uses herbal soaps, shampoos and food products sourced from local sellers in the vicinity of the hotel.

A hearty policy to note – the hotel offers a 15% ‘digital detox’ discount for permanent Thai residents if you agree to leave your mobile phones i a locker throughout the stay.

 

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WE Ethical: Paper No. 9 Alternative Leather

Design is all about problem solving, and Brooklyn-based Paper No. 9 promises a great alternative to leather, which is loved by all but refused by vegan fashionmongers, with an innovative use of, as the name suggests, paper – with diverse possibilities.

Paper No. 9’s unique material is inspired by kinkarakawakami, a wallcovering developed by 19th century Japanese artisans to mimic gilded leather and displayed in some of the most opulent rooms of Buckingham Palace. In 2008, the duo, Stephanie Joy Benedetto and Rebecca Cole Marshall, developed a process to transform paper into a durable, sewable textile. Free of plastics and complex polymers, this innovative textile is natural, non-toxic, and features a texture and appearance unlike any other fabric on the market.

Originally designed for use in fashion and interior design, the material can be used in a wide array of applications. The creative lab has produced custom colors, textures, and effects for various clients with products ranging from apparel to stationary to bags and other accessories.

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WE Ethical: Fashion for conveying greater good

Not long ago the most inspiring ethical fashion advocate Katharine Hamnett spoke to Telegraph about fashionmongers’ real purpose when they shop ethical fashion, and the last thing they do is doing this out of pity. Continue reading

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