These Singaporean Eco Warriors Have Made Vintage Clothes And Upcycling Cool Again
HerStyleAsia spoke to three eco warriors at the Carouselland event for more insight on how you can play a part to help the environment
If you make an extra effort to skip the straws at your usual fast food joint, or toss your old newspapers into the recycling bin, and also switch off the lights when you’re leaving the room hoping that all this will help Mother Earth in some way, you may just be one of the many eco warriors in the making.
So what other steps can you take to adopt a more sustainable way of living?
HerStyleAsia spoke to the owners of some eco-friendly shops at the Carouselland event for more insight on how you can play a part to help the environment.
Before you fork out hundreds of your hard earned dollars buying a new outfit from a large retail store to wear to your bestie’s birthday party, consider digging around your grandmother’s closet from back in the day.
Vintage clothing is a great look for an enlightened eco warriors like you. Because not only is it free if you find some great pieces from your grandparents’ original yesteryears collection. It’s also a good way of reusing clothes that otherwise would have been thrown out or just rotted away in the storeroom.
But if you’re not really digging your Ah Ma’s floral blouses, you can either sniff around thrift shops or just skip the dirty work and check out darling boutiques like Vintagewknd. They offer charming retro-inspired style pieces carefully collected from around the world at pocket-friendly prices.
We spoke to Eden and Eileen of Vintagewknd to understand why why vintage clothes shopping is best for the environment. And, how you can become one of the many fashion-forward eco warriors too.
HSA: Tell us more about how you as a millennial entrepreneur began your career in fashion.
EILEEN: I used to always go thrift shopping and would just go through the entire store digging for treasures and items that I like. Sometimes I’d bring it back to sell off, like those I decided I don’t want anymore, or it didn’t fit me or something, it always sold pretty fast. So after I graduated from university, my boyfriend said he’d give me SGD$1000 to go shopping, and I put in another SGD$1000. So with SGD$2000, that’s how it all started.
HSA: Lucky you! So the tip of the day is to get a very supportive boyfriend?
EILEEN: (Laughs) Who wants me to shop for other people and not for myself.
HSA: So shop to make money!
EILEEN: Yes, my boyfriend and I like to go to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand and travel around to source for vintage items. We source for a mix of items, there’s no specific time period, just pretty much what we can find. We are more geared towards the feminine sort of stuff, not so much on the 90’s stuff like Mods stuff, unless we have clients who specifically ask for such items for wedding shoots, or events, then we’ll help them go and source for it. Otherwise we’ll just see what we can get then bring it back and do some sorting.
HSA: What makes you different from so many other brands in the market?
EILEEN: I found that in Singapore the [vintage] boutiques are very expensive. Those would be more for people who are really into vintage, like the aficionados, who are okay with that amount for the premium selection. We do have that too, but our normal selection is for everyone to be able to enjoy it — because if someone who doesn’t wear vintage and you ask them to come up with $100 for a dress, they’d be like, “Are you crazy?” We also have our new line that has plus sized items!
HSA: Awesome! We need more of that in Singapore.
EILEEN: Yes, but it’s a little bit more difficult to find especially from the countries that we go to. The factories may stock it sometimes but we just don’t have the option of choosing what size we want so we will usually go there then we will sort it out. So other than plus-sized, we also have vintage dresses, skirts, blouses, outerwear like blazers and cardigans, and also men’s vintage shirts. But it’s mostly women’s clothing. We are still looking into denim, and we do have a little bit of denim at our pop up store.
HSA: What’s your advice to young millennial startup junkies?
EILEEN: Treat it like a business. There’s the fun part but there’s also a lot of work behind it as well. Also, find good staff, find good people, because this is definitely more than a nine to five job!
What are you going to do with that warped acoustic guitar that has been collecting dust in the corner of your room for the past three years?
Besides using as a prop and smashing it to pieces onstage during a pseudo rockstar moment, you can consider upcycling it into a cool little shelf to display your books or various knick-knacks.
Same goes for all your supposed junk which can be given a new breath of life after undergoing a DIY transformation, just like the quaint pieces found at Hey Izzy.
We spoke to Brenton from Hey Izzy to see how upcycling is one of the many important stages of becoming an eco-warrior.
HSA: Tell us more about your journey from a regular college boy to becoming the eco-warrior of Singapore.
BRENTON: It was during one of my day jobs in the government sector that I was actually quite bored, so I tried to find something to pick up as a hobby. I saw this upcycling kit on the internet and my friend had a guitar that he was not using anymore, so we used that guitar as a guinea pig and turned it into a shelf — and that was how it all started!
HSA: What prompted the change in you?
BRENTON: It started out as a hobby, but then more and more people showed interest in the products, so I thought hey, maybe we can bring this further and see where it goes? And that’s when all our customised workshops started.
HSA: Why did you choose this path?
BRENTON: I think it’s sort of by chance. I have to admit that I was not very eco-friendly at first but as I actually went through the process it helped me to understand that this is a more sustainable path to how we consume stuff, so slowly but surely I started to learn more about sustainability.
HSA: A lot of people are probably unaware as well. Like they are not consciously bad to the environment but because they are unaware they are just oblivious to it.
BRENTON: Yeah, and Singapore being Singapore, everything is just very convenient. That is why we thought of having workshops as well so that other than teaching people how to acquire a certain skill, we also hope to bring forward the message about upcycling and sustainability.
HSA: What’s the most memorable product you have ever created?
BRENTON: Currently we have touch lamps which is a very cool concept. Like beer cans, typewriters or basically anything can be turned into a touch lamp. It’s a way of combining my love for vintage stuff with upcycling.
HSA: So you can turn pretty much anything into a touch lamp? Inanimate objects I mean. Not like my pet hamster or gerbil or something.
BRENTON: (Laughs) Not yet!
HSA: So what exactly is your vision?
BRENTON: For now, firstly I would like to spread the message that anyone can be a maker. When I started out, I did not know anything either — in fact I was taking Engineering during my poly days and I failed miserably.
HSA: But you’re using your knowledge now with the touch lamps. So that came in handy!
BRENTON: Yeah, when people want to start something, they usually have the inertia and say, “I cannot do it”. So by having these workshops I hope it would actually show them that they can do it themselves, and secondly to go over the message of sustainability.
HSA: How much do you sell the customised touch lamps for?
BRENTON: For the typewriter it is going for about SGD$200 because it is an actual vintage typewriter so we had to source for it. The beer cans are going for SGD$38 to SGD$40+.
HSA: How has your work impacted the environment?
BRENTON: For the March holidays we went to three schools to run our workshops, so I guess there were around fifty students in each session and one school would have about two or three sessions, so maybe through these sessions I hope that the kids would have more of an understanding of being more environmentally friendly.
HSA: Kids absorb things really well, so it’s great to impart that knowledge so it sticks with them. They probably will go home and tell their parents not to throw away used up toilet rolls just so they can recycle it for an art project!
BRENTON: Yeah! In fact we’ve had a few participants who tell us that now when they go to the supermarket, every time they look at a can they will look at it differently — it’s not something only for drinking, but it can also be turned into something else.
HSA: Do share your nuggets of wisdom for any budding eco warriors and how people can individually help the environment.
BRENTON: Try not to overthink. Just do it. I mean, do a little bit of research but try not to let that part overwhelm you because most of the time we think too much and because of that we get scared. So don’t overthink.
If you have your own unique DIY creations that you’d like to share with the world and make a bit of cash while you’re at it. Or, you’re looking for some preloved goods at a cheaper price than getting them brand new; or maybe you have a bunch of stuff to get rid of but can’t bear to just dump it all at the bin centre, set up an online shop or sign up for an account on Carousell instead which is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing classifieds marketplaces.
By buying local and supporting local vendors you can also save on shipping and cut down your carbon footprint at the same time.
No crowded malls, no long queues, and no walking around aimlessly for hours. Just scroll and click away at the comfort of your own home.
So if you have thought about becoming one of the eco warriors, at least now you know. You can do so in fashionable threads, with unique home decor, and a bit more money in your pocket!