Last week I was lucky enough to attend Sustainable Brands Bangkok. A two-day event held at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center. The focus of the event was to shed light on current social, environmental, economic and ethical problems occurring in Bangkok and worldwide. Then to empower and encourage the people behind the brands to stand up and make a change. In efforts to create more sustainable businesses and lives.
Via Sustainable Brands Bangkok
The motto, “Redefining The Good Life” was broken into eight categories including; Good Food, Good Home, Good Lifestyle, Good Money, Good Design, Good Energy, Good Technology and Good Destination. Hundreds of people from across the globe gathered in Bangkok to learn how to live the “Good Life” and a great time was had by all. I was only able to attend day one and fashion was my focus.
As California girl and would consider myself a bit of a hippie or eco-conscious. However, more than anything I would say that I’m a Fashionista! Fashion is LIFE! I was excited to not only attend the Good Design: Unwaste Fashion Seminar but to meet the incredible Bunny Yan. Bunny is CEO of The Squirrelz, a company that “connects reusable materials with designers to keep them from landfills”.
In her introductory speech, the fun and funny Yan explained how she started her company and created her first product. She found a resource with an excess amount of hospital scrubs that she could purchase for next to nothing. She decided to turn a basic scrub top into a bag. Making no cuts to the garment meant zero waste. Bunny stitched up the waist, added handles to the arms and viola, a custom tote was created. Her main message, turning waste liability into profitable assets. This was an idea that I could get behind! So I made a point to become friends with her, have lunch together and attend her Breakout session.
Designer Bunny Yan and I
Good Design: Unwaste Fashion
The Good Design Breakout Session began with a presentation from Javier Goyeneche. The President and Founder of Ecoalf a company that creates clothing and accessories made entirely from recycled materials. The Spanish company began in 2009 and has done everything from collaborating with Goop and Apple to opening up stores in Madrid and Berlin. One of their most popular initiatives is the Upcycling the Oceans project (UTO). Which collects the trash destroying our oceans and through technology transforms it into quality yarn to produce fabrics and products. This unprecedented worldwide adventure helps remove waste from the bottom of the oceans with the support of fishermen.
Since 2015 the UTO project has recycled more than 80 tons of fishing net to create eco-friendly fibers. It began in the Mediterranean Coast of Spain and is currently expanding into Thailand. This year the Ecoalf Foundation made a three-year commitment to replicate UTO in Southeast Thailand. Which will help to remove the waste from the oceans and islands of Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Samed and Koh Phangan. Their tagline, “Because there is no Planet B” is something that resonated with me and a phrase we all need to remember.
For Bunny’s Breakout session she was joined by the teenage, Transgender trendsetter and designer, Apichet “Madaew’” Atirattana. She separated the crowd into groups and gave us materials that are commonly considered waste. Then she invited us to not only list the characteristics of each item. But to develop sellable products from them. From paper and plastic bags to tape each group was encouraged to put our creative hats on and even present our ideas to the crowd.
I was on Team Tape and after we listed the characteristics of different types of type, we created two different products. The first generation product and a second item created from those recycled materials. We decided on a strapless duct tape bandage dress à la Herve Leger. The second generation product, striped throw pillows in assorted sizes. While all of this was happening, Bunny was working with Madaew to create a custom gown made from plastic bags and newspaper. We all walked away with a greater understanding of eco-style and a deeper respect for Unwaste Fashion.