Era of slow fashion

Era of slow fashion
Singapore-based Swedish designer Linda Solay crafts her highly tactile Fyall scarves through a process called 'manual felting' - which involves applying water to slowly interlock wool fibres with a fine silk base. Known as 'nuno', the method is highly laborious and could take up to four days to form a scarf.

Over a year after the Rana Plaza disaster, during which the collapse of the factory building in Bangladesh killed over 1,300 people, intricately made apparel with traceable origins has become more appealing to consumers with a conscience.

Now, despite the continuing demand for $10 tank tops to don and dump, the notion of buying a $200 scarf that took four days to handcraft isn't quite as foreign as the ingestion of chia seeds to a McDonald's devotee.

"Because we are so used to mass-produced goods at affordable prices, consumers often neglect to recognise that someone else is actually trading their own precious time and effort to physically create a product," says Colin Chen, co-founder of Tyrwhitt General Company.

"We decided to focus on artisanal and crafted goods because we believe that there is more to buying than just the physical transaction and ownership. Consumers have a right to know how the goods came about, the story of the makers behind the goods, why they are doing it and even the social impact of production."

Back to the source

Established in late-2012, Mr Chen's retail store located above Chye Seng Huat Hardware cafe attempts to support artisanal labels, many of which are local.

Perhaps a counter-movement in reaction to the environmental and social evils of fast fashion, several independent retailers and designers are pivoting their attention from maximising profit margins to sourcing for reliable creators of quality wares.

Case in point: Apart from committing to much lengthier, artisanal modes of production, "socially motivated" brand Matter relies on craftsmen personally sought out by its founder Renyung Ho to ensure its products are ethically created and of a high quality.

"It kicked off last year when I drove a tuk-tuk covering 3,000 km from North to South India for a charity drive," recalls Ms Ho, a former associate director at Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts.

"I fell in love with the country and met some key people I work with now. It was sort of a domino effect. Each of our supply chain partners is chosen through a set of criteria emphasising product integrity, community integration and good business practice. We personally visit each partner to establish that long-term relationship."

Besides relying on socially responsible manufacturers, some homegrown designers such as scarf-maker Linda Solay, a Singapore-based Swedish designer who creates "nuno-felted" scarves, personally craft each product they sell.

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