Do Eco-Friendly Fashion Brands Have It All?
Fashion Designers appear to have it all. What images do you conjure up when envisioning the lifestyle of a fashion designer in Singapore or anywhere else for that matter? Socialising, networking, trips around Asia and extravagant lunches? Not to mention private financing that allows for the hiring of a team of designers and PR guru's? Well, while that would be AMAZING and true for some (possibly) it's so far removed from the truth and reality of what us sincere independant designers are going through and especially as an eco-friendly fashion designer where road blocks are already in our way. So, my lovely friend, it is incredibly important to support local businesses right now and in the future.
As an eco-conscious fashion brand in Singapore I choose to approach my designs from a different angle, a different market. I have deliberately chosen to become a sustainable fashion brand or if you like a responsible fashion brand (I think ''responsible'' sums the term up more simply. This really is the cherry on the top for you my wonderful friend who may already own a piece of Michelle Schulz. Of course if you don't, yet, now is a great time to browse the store as it's full of sale pieces.
What does this mean exactly? Sustainable is defined differently depending on who you ask and what part of any given process they are discussing. Essentially a business should make sure that all cogs in the wheel take into consideration and actively seek to continue to improve environmental and socio-economic factors in all that it does. In fact this is such a major global issue that the United Nations Member States in 2015 laid out a blueprint of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) that many of us eco-conscious fashion brands in Singapore are embracing.
Here's what Michelle Schulz embraces:
A slow fashion approach
A minimal waste approach
Using only natural and organic fabrics
Use of recycled stationary products
What is my slow fashion approach?
First I really need to consider the function and versatility of my designs. It is so important to me that my designs are wearable for almost any occasion. They need longevity and to be considered a timeless addition to your wardrobe which is why I adore classic shapes and understated simplicity. Don't you too?
"I love to imagine you thoughtfully considering your day and what impression you would like to make before you carefully select your outfit and step out into the sunshine."
I try to put myself in your shoes. I'm a busy Mother who is running Michelle Schulz but am also 100% around for the kids, making the dinners, cleaning the house and yes dog walking (my 2 adorable Dalmatians) it's exhausting and I need clothes that work with me. This is why you will find so many pieces in the shop that are in fact ''elevated ladies work clothes''.
I have always been adamant that my designs should be limited-edition too, steering away from fast-fashion by being, well, slow fashion. What do I mean by limited-edition? Well, unlike fast-fashion brands I can honestly say I do limited-edition (which is probably a huge weakness for my books but I'm passionate about this). To date each of my styles have been capped at 25 pieces across all sizes in that style except for one style which went to 32 pieces. Now future designs may fluctuate from these earlier preferences, who knows, but I will always keep returning to my ethos of a slow fashion approach.
What is my minimal waste approach?
Well, first let me say that I am in absolute awe of sustainable fashion brands who acheive a status of zero-waste, have you heard of this practise? There are very few eco-friendly fashion brands in Singapore diving into this area but there are a number of zero-waste stores to drop by*. Zero-waste is as the name suggests zero-waste, where every part of the fabric cut for the garment is done so by clever pattern-cutting techniques. There's a cool designer called Zero Waste Daniel who effortlessly corners this niche. However I am not in that league but do strive for minimal waste women's clothing designs. I keep all the fabric leftovers from the production stage and where possible use this to create small bags in which to package my clothing in. Additionally as part of my Green Initiative we encourage you to return your pre-loved Michelle Schulz items in exchange for a voucher to be used against future collections. What do we do with your returned items? They will be thoroughly cleaned and recycled into more packaging bags. How does this help? It stops us from needing to use plastic packaging even biodegradable types or even from having to produce any new packaging bags, reusable ones or otherwise. Ultimately it is better to practice to reduce, reuse and recycle techniques!
Only the natural approach will do.
I am so passionate about what I do and why I do it, which you can read all about in a previous post and for me there is no question about how I do it. Which is only by using more environmentally friendly fabrics. NO polyester and I even struggle with the idea of using recycled polyester because of the issues around microfibres shedding during the laundry process. I shall be writing some posts discussing the different fabric choices around so that you can make better informed buying decisions too so please do watch this space to better understand what your clothes are made of. In fact I have some new styles soon to be released using a fabulous luxurious t-shirt stretch fabric. These will be ''affordable luxury pieces''.
Eco-conscious fashion is my passion.
Ultimately I love what I do but it is a constant struggle between passion and finance because honest ''limited-edition'' eco-friendly clothes is limited-income. Being an eco-conscious brand in Singapore is a wonderful moment in my life but still many people are only becoming aware here of sustainable fashion brands vs brands that offer cheap prices (due to cheap fabrics and cheap labour). There is a point at which when I meet potential new clients that I stop and take a breath...What I say next could bear influence over their decision. What do I lead with? Hi, I'm an eco-conscious fashion brand ...or ... Hi, how do you like my designs? Do I lead with my heart or my head? Do you want to be educated about your purchases upfront or is it really just an added bonus, an after thought?
"It is important for me that my designs are appreciated for every part of the thoughtful journey that it has been through and for everything that it stands for which is, hope for a better fashion future and more respect for what you possess."
Every part of this process is meaningful to me. I love meeting you, my customer's and talking about how my designs either do or don't work for you. Finding out what your clothing challenges are so that I can consider that in my future work. Creating designs that work for real ladies, items to be loved and treasured and cared for. Producing the clothes with a trusted team of ladies who are treated fairly and work within a safe place and are not swept aside for the purpose of more profits. Selecting the fabrics pays a special part in my process because everytime I research for a new design there are more and more eco-friendly fabric choices available to me. Yes, it does cost more and most people wouldn't understand why but when something has been grown and produced with careful consideration to the planet and to the people involved in its creation thereafter there is a real dollar cost to consider. So the next time you think about popping to a fast-fashion store to buy yourself a $25 blouse you have to question how it is possible that it was made with sincerity and honesty and respect for the workers and your planet.
I would absolutely love for you to share this post with your friends, family and co-workers. It's more important now than ever before that we can support small boutique local businesses. New subscribers to my website are eligible for a first-time purchase discount of 20% and that is on top of the existing sale prices here.
Many thanks & stay safe
Contact me anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Zero-Waste Stores in Singapore