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KULALA Guide: A Beginner’s Manual to Sustainable Fashion

Earth: 1. Fashion: 1. At these eco-friendly, sustainable labels that champion upcycling, it's a win-win situation for all.

Shopping, on any given day, is a little bit like a tug-o-war match between the imaginary devil and angel on your shoulders. “Yas queen, how fabulous does that $300 t-shirt look on you!” whispers the devil. “You don’t need a $300 t-shirt, no one can tell the difference anyway,” retorts the angel. And…you’re kinda just caught between making a splurge and walking away. We all deal with varying degrees of guilt with shopping. No one ever really needs that extra pair of pants or dress that they want.

Making fashion decisions might’ve once been as “easy” as coming to terms with how big a hole you’re willing to burn in your pockets but it’s just not that simple anymore. As the alarms go off on the worsening state of the environment, the world demands for us to pay attention to the brands we’re spending our money at. While we’re all obsessively phasing out plastic straws, bags and bottles from our lives, the clothes we purchase too warrant the same consideration. How much does your wardrobe cost the environment? What happens to your clothes when you’re done with them?

With sustainability taking the lead in conversations, we too have a part to play in the big picture. It’s a little effort that goes a long way. Rather than looking to fast fashion brands to satisfy your shopping habit, turning your attention to eco-friendly alternatives makes all the difference. With new waves of upcycling designers the industry’s been seeing of late, you’d be surprised at the choices you have at hand.

Old trainers given a second lease of life as oh-so instagrammable kitten heels? High-end fashion constructed entirely from upcycled materials? The possibilities are truly endless. Here’s where it gets even better – unlike mass produced fast fashion offerings, these upcycled pieces are truly one-of-a-kind. Doing your bid for the environment without compromising on aesthetic? It’s a win-win. Planet: 1. Fashion: 1.

Ancuta Sarca

Romanian-born designer Ancuta Sarca‘s ammunition against fast fashion is upcycling. ““We are the first generation experiencing climate change, so it’s really important that we become more conscious of the vulnerability of our planet and the consequences of our actions on the wellness of the next generations,” said Sarca in an interview with Forbes magazine. The conception of Sarca’s eponymous label was born out of realisation that she owned one too many pairs of sneakers. Rather than discard them, she breathed new life into them and in the process, what has now come to be a footwear label with a cult following.

Rave Review

The three-year-old Stockholm brand is steps ahead in embracing sustainability in the realm of luxury fashion. A rebel against the existing system, Rave Review is committed to upend longstanding approaches to manufacturing. Here, deadstock fabric and secondhand denim are given a new lease of life as, well, clothes fit for a rebel. The ones at the back, take notes!


Re;code‘s philosophy, “This is not just fashion”, speaks for itself. Sourced from discarded clothing and textile waste, the Korean brand keeps its production numbers small. Limited in quantity, you could think of it as couture for the modern woman. As each collection is dreamt up from the materials gathered, Re;code’s offerings are pleasant surprises as they come.

Studio ALCH

London-based menswear and womenswear label Studio ALCH is an inquisition into the deconstruction and reconstruction of garments. The utilitarian pieces often crafted from your not so regular fabrications are head turning statement numbers for the everyday. This could full well be the eco-friendly alternative to streetwear.


Probably the most mainstream of the lot, RE/DONE needs little introduction. The denim specialist is our go-to for repurposed vintage jeans. Denim never goes out of fashion and investment in a piece from RE/DONE would definitely go far. As much as we love scoring vintage finds at thrift stores, the fit often tends to be a concern. With that taken care of courtesy of RE/DONE, there’s nothing stopping us from getting our hands on upcycled denim!


What To Read Next: Brand to Know: EntireworldWhen Plain ‘Ol Sunnies Get a Summer Selfie-Ready Makeover and 5 Playlists to Make Staying Home All the More Bearable Cover Image: Qide Sim. All images courtesy of the respective brands.

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