Home to some of the world’s most skilled craftspeople, Malaysia’s rich culture of craftsmanship make it the perfect place to start a sustainable, slow fashion brand, that supports local communities through social initiatives and a rekindling of natural materials to create fashion and homeware that appeals to the contemporary individual. In this post, we take a look at 8 ethically conscious, slow fashion brands that are pioneering sustainability in Malaysia.
Collaborating with grassroots organisations and artisans in Malaysia, INKAA strive to create beautiful products, while promoting the voice of their artisans to their clients. Every one of their products is hand-signed by its maker and their individual stories are told on their website. The partners with marginalised communities and local artisans to produce all of their products, ensuring fair wages. We love how this Malaysian brand is committed to honouring artisans while preserving Malay heritage and culture.
In the 1950s, fishermen strengthened their jute nets using a tannin pigment from the mangroves. In 2019, the founders of Xiapism rediscovered the natural dye method and created their brand. They create sustainable products using 100% natural dye. In their range of homeware and zero waste accessories, they allow nature to take its course, telling the story of a forgotten colour.
Earth Heir is a social enterprise that works with a network of over 100 artisans, and a core group of 30 artisans hailing from women’s cooperatives, indigenous tribes and refugee groups, across six states of Malaysia. By combining traditional artisanal skills with modern, contemporary design, Earth Heir celebrates Malaysia’s varied heritage of art forms and unique cultural narratives. They are fair trade certified and reinvest the majority of their profits to grow and impact the artisans they support.
Mindful at every step of their production process, from design, sourcing, production, and packaging, Sayang are constantly evolving their brand as they discover new ways to be environmentally and socially conscious. All their pieces are designed, developed, and made in Malaysia. Through a collaborative effort with their tailors, they have a strong commitment to transparent and ethical practices. They strive to reinvent and rebuild perspectives on locally-made products and to highlight local skillsets and creative capacities. All their recyclable labels and hangtags are made from post-consumer waste and are carefully printed in eco-friendly soy ink.
After stumbling upon naturally dyed fabrics during a trip to Bali, Muni Osman was immediately drawn to the fabric’s raw beauty, describing the colours as imperfect but honest. He set out to unravel the mystery of natural dyeing and realised there was greater importance in finding authenticity in how we make things. His range of tropical dye apparel is select but each piece is beautifully crafted and made to last - the perfect compliment to a slow fashion wardrobe or home.
Fugeelah is a social enterprise created for children seeking refuge in Malaysia. What started as a fundraising project to help keep education free for refugee children and youth at the Fugee School, has today grown into a lifestyle accessories brand. We love that inspired by their belief in humanity, inclusivity and the need for more human connectedness, they hope that their creations are a beautiful reminder that all people, refugee or not, deserve the chance to determine their own life paths with dignity and purpose.
Producing garments made of natural fibre Kanoe want to delight the essence of the human touch in their garments. In a world dominated by fast fashion, technology and poor working conditions for factory workers, Kanoe celebrate block printing methods and embroidered details, all done by hand by their local artisans and craftspeople. Through their range of contemporary batik prints, they embrace the culture of Malay communities and families.
Not so much a Malaysian slow fashion brand but rather a collective of ethical and conscious products founded in Malaysia and stocking a range of products from around the world, Unplug is worth mentioning given that their careful selection process ensures that every brand they stock aligns with their core values. Unplug, at Bangsar Village is the perfect place to source gifts as they stock a range of products, perfect for all kinds of people.
Suri is a Malaysian social enterprise that empowers underprivileged mothers by handcrafting products using up-cycled denim. We love that their indigo blue range not only reduces waste by reusing old textiles but also that they support a community of women in their production process - a truly sustainable brand.
At atotheme, we’re always trying to learn, grow and spread awareness about sustainable, ethical brands - if you think we’ve missed any notable slow fashion brands that are born and bred in Malaysia, drop us a message so we can add them to our next update of this list.