If Covid 19 has taught us anything, it should be that the nature always wins. The more we fight and consume her, the harder she can hit back at us to the point of crippling nations. While sustainability and rising concern of man’s impact on the environment are not new concepts, fashion industry, which has been proven to pollute environment the most after the oil industry, is finally shifting its stance toward a better tomorrow. Thanks to the likes of Al Gore, David Attenborough and Jane Goodall bringing their passionate research and lives’ work to millions of living rooms as documentaries are starting to strike a chord with us.
I’ve compiled a list of several brands hailing from Hong Kong, founded by its residents, that are looking to make a positive impact for both Mother Earth and the fashion industry. I picked several of the most innovative companies in sustainable fashion, who push the production and design constraints and create a more ethical fashion back-end.
It’s encouraging to see these founders who come from traditional fashion and sourcing backgrounds, equipped with the dirty secrets of the industry, improving raw materials, working conditions, and the product owning experience with sustainability at its core.
1. Skin of Nature
Creative director Elena Beraldo is a Hong Kong resident who has specialized on sustainable fashion most of her life. After the brutal realization of pollution left behind by the fashion industry, in 2016 she started dreaming of building an eco-conscious brand that celebrated nature not only by producing in a sustainable and ethical way, but also through a creative one. She created Skin of Nature out of her passion for the underwater world and her discovery of Alexander Semenov’s photography and research.
Skin of Nature (for now) is a women’s active apparel brand that combines prints inspired from the natural world with functional and sustainable fabrics. Its most recent collection includes plankton and coral photography printed on their signature fabric. The team has designed collections for a variety of sports and their needs as well. “Asia” cross-functional leggings are designed for running, hiking, and training, including phone proof pockets. “Nerea” is a biker short that supports a higher waist and is made from compressive material to give your muscles the extra boost needed.
Their functional fabrics are made with 100% certified recycled polyester yarns. Instead of coming from petroleum, they come from reprocessed plastic bottle waste.
Going beyond just using sustainable materials, Skin of Nature also pledges to donate 1% of all sales to grassroot NGOs for environmental protection and research. Their first collection donates to Aquatilis, a non-government organization that aims to celebrate and preserve the sea life through an “epic underwater journey through the unknown, set to explore the world’s most extraordinary creatures.”
Prices for leggings and tops range from 575 HKD (74 USD) to 955 HKD (123 USD).
Want to combat cold while making a difference for the environment? Then it’s time to enter Faculty. Though you won’t find this faculty in your average brick and mortar educational bleak-beige building, but online and in retail locations. The Faculty puffy down jackets are made with 100% P.U.R.E. recycled down processed by Minardi Piume in Italy. Recycled down is made from materials recovered from used products, which are then processed and sterilized to give it a new life. As a part of upcycling and recycling movement that is sweeping the fashion world, the brand uses this advantage as sustainable insulation that ensures warmth, breathability, and lightness.
Their globetrotting founders have experienced inclement city weather firsthand and realized the need for comfortable, high-functioning, and sustainable protection. “The urban experience can be unapologetically chaotic,” says the brand on their website and encourages its prospective customers to reduce the impact of the clothes they wear in the cities they live in.
Faculty is a true omni channel brand. Their products are sold online, as well as featured in experimental stores across the US: in New York, Boston, Seattle, and Austin. Their easy to shop website currently offers two puffer jackets and a parka ranging between 450-500 USD. You can finish your sustainable pairing with a Tote Bag, an insulated water bottle, or an enamel pin to show your support for the brand and the sustainability movement.
Lacess crafts quality sneakers from upcycled materials such as leather trimmings and plastic bottles together with other sustainable materials. Founder Natalie Chow’s vision is to offer consumers a pair of #GuiltFreeKicks that they will be proud to wear, knowing their shoes are friendly to the planet, and to its wearers.
As modern shoppers become more aware of the environmental impact of their fashion habits, Lacess provides a sustainable option for the shoes they wear. It’s quite innovative but also an arduous process to create the uppers and soles of shoes ensuring a good fit while providing comfort with recycled materials. I can only imagine the R&D that must have gone into this initiative, but results look well worth the effort.
Currently they offer both men and women in two styles of Black and White solid colors. We are waiting eagerly for more styles and colors.
The name Lacess represents a community tied together, to battle against social issues like climate change and human trafficking. While minimizing the environmental impact remains one of the pillars of the brand, their interest about social injustice issues, and specifically modern slavery is a major drive for their cause. For every pair sold, a portion of the proceeds is donated to Compassion First, a not- for-profit organization that works to help victims of human- trafficking.
4. Aqua Nomad
Full Disclosure: Aqua Nomad is owned by the writer of this article! But we figured since we got the innovation bug, we would include as Not-So-Top-3 but as a bonus 4th.
Aqua Nomad is the brainchild of two cousins, Cem Yurdum and Timothy Levent Yurdum, who grew up sailing in Europe and USA. After realizing how much sailors are doing their part on recycling trash but lack the option to wear clothes made from discarded materials with the performance features, they went on exploring on the best combination of fabrics and factories who can pull this off.
Drawing upon their experience combined with survey responses from their sailor friends, Aqua Nomad combined necessary performance elements with unique design touches to create five styles with several color options. Current lineup includes 2 polo-shirts, a jersey tshirt with long and short sleeve options, and a hoodie. Antibacterial, sweat wicking and quick drying, they use recycled plastic bottles and organic cotton to make their products. Unique features include T-shirt necks with a loop tie your hat to keep it from flying away, and a side arm pocket to keep vital bits and pieces dry.
Cem wants people to make a conscious decision when they are picking which apparel to wear next time they go into their wardrobe. This is actually what the brand’s positioning also reads. Aqua Nomad is for the conscious water sports people, conscious for the environment, their performance and how they look.