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Eco fashion growing on city's stylish
By Nie Xin

GREEN is the must-have color every season for Shanghai's growing numbers of eco fashion followers, who make their style choices on the basis of environmental concerns.

Fashion is increasingly incorporating sustainable practices, while still creating items that are creative, flattering and functional.

Zhou Lanfan, a Shanghai designer widely known as Saya, co-founder of brand Movous, is making a wedding dress made of rosin. This recycled material is being used to create peony-shaped lacy decoration on dresses - from elaborate wedding gowns to simple garments for everyday use.

"Designs should be interesting, practical and recycled. If you buy a dress - no matter what it's made of - but don't wear it often, then it's a waste," says Zhou. "My eco fashion advice is, 'don't throw away your old dresses'."

Environmental consciousness should influence the whole life cycle of a garment, says Sherry Poon, founder of the Eco Design Fair that is held twice a year in Shanghai.

"Eco fashion should include design considerations to reduce waste, using more environmentally friendly materials, such as organic cotton or up-cycled materials; use natural dyes; use ethical methods in production; and consider offering a program to collect used garments," says Poon.

Last month's Eco Design Fair at the Cool Docks tried to provide the 15,000-plus visitors with inspiration on how to live a greener life.

The popularity reflects the increase in eco-conscious fashion businesses in Shanghai. The event is also becoming more mature in terms of the quality of clothes and sustainable methods used - especially those with third-party certifications.

"This means that Shanghai residents have more choices in order to look good, yet also do good in terms of being planet-friendly," Poon adds.

Among those seeking to offer natural choice is Joan Sunghee Kim, a South Korean who has been living in Shanghai for 16 years.

While mass-produced garments and chemical dyes have largely replaced ancient traditions of hand-woven and naturally dyed fabrics, Kim, founder of fashion brand Dyetree, specializes in natural dyes. She is trying to revive old traditions and persuade the fashion-conscious to choose natural fabrics colored with natural dyes.

"Garments are a 'second skin,' I believe that soon more people will accept the concept that being fashionable is wearing natural and healthy fabrics," says Kim, who holds a master's degree in anthropology and a PhD degree in China's textile technology.

Her designs feature garments, accessories, linens, draperies, cushioned furniture and household articles - all made of cotton and flax and colored using natural dyes extracted from animals, vegetables and minerals.

"The color of natural dye will fade, just like nature and our lives. We can re-dye it. It doesn't matter," Kim adds.

Here are some other suggestions for stocking up on eco fashion items.


Showroom: 1/F, 232 Anfu Rd

BrutCake was founded in 2011 in Shanghai by Taiwanese Nicole Teng, focusing on handmade products and savoring the beauty of imperfection.

BrutCake items include handwoven old fabrics used to make handbags, furniture rebuilt in collaboration with craftsmen and pottery.


Showroom: 3/F, #77 Tai'an Rd, near Xingguo Rd

Handmade in Cambodia from recycled tarpaulin sacks collected all over southeast Asia, Somos' eco-friendly bags are intended to be eye-catching, practical and durable. As they are sewn by hand from materials often only in small quantities, each is unique.

The aim of the brand is not only to use recycled materials in an inventive way but also to show off beautiful pop-industrial designs that might otherwise pass the world by, explains the brand.

Madam Pure

Boutique: Shop 201, Bldg 3, 205 Nanchang Rd

Studio: Bldg 25, 88 Beihong Rd

Founded in 2011 in Shanghai, Madam Pure has been called a union between European design and China's most eco-friendly plant - bamboo.

It aims to bring "created-in China" excellence and a new generation a fabrics to the contemporary lifestyle, offering the highest quality products, while protecting the environment.


Shop online: www.mayelife.com

MAYE is an indie fashion label founded in Shanghai by young Chinese designers. With the concept that "less is more beautiful" and committed to reducing wastage, the brand features practical products such as handbags, folders and file bags, All are made of natural materials - including the name of brand. Ma (麻) means linen with ye (叶) being leaf.

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