Culture Weekly

Cool collection

September 1 - September 7, 2021
Gulf Weekly Cool collection
Gulf Weekly Cool collection
Gulf Weekly Cool collection
Gulf Weekly Cool collection
Gulf Weekly Cool collection

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Bahrain-based Mo Jian Yung is a designer with a difference.

Her sustainable fashion brand showcases how all materials, big and small, can be used to create a cool collection that not only helps preserve the environment but also looks and feels fab.

The 32-year-old Malaysian launched her brand Jung last year after coming up with a nursing dress gift idea for her pregnant friend in Bangkok.

“Initially intended as a gift, the idea of a nursing dress just morphed into a clothing line that comes with a built-in nursing cloth, so the mother has fewer things to carry while nursing in style,” explained Mo.

She has a Bachelor’s degree in fashion design from Raffles College of Higher Education in Malaysia. She worked as a designer with different brands and as a fashion lecturer at Saito University College Malaysia.

“Nursing friendly clothing has to be tastefully designed and comfortable so it isn’t characterised by its function and can be worn at all stages of life.

“As the collection was developed further, it became clear that a long lasting good garment is one that will adapt to the changes of one’s body, so you really have no reason to stop wearing it. With that in mind, I designed a waist-friendly function.

“The usage of zero waste sustainable materials only came after the inception of this idea, because frankly a sustainably-made clothing line without a purpose only solves part of the problem.

“The biggest issue is still people’s consumption habits. The global population of 7.9 billion needs clothing - imagine the waste just from the production itself!”

Among the environmental impacts of fast fashion are the depletion of non-renewable sources, emission of greenhouse gases and use of massive amounts of water and energy.

The fashion industry is the second largest water consumer, requiring about 700 gallons to produce one cotton shirt and 2,000 gallons for a pair of jeans.

Textile dyeing is the world’s second-largest polluter of water which is often dumped into ditches, streams or rivers, and fashion production makes up 10 per cent of humanity’s carbon emissions that dries up water sources.

What’s more, 85 per cent of all textiles go to the dump each year and washing some types of clothes sends thousands of bits of plastic into the ocean.

Some brands use synthetic fibres like polyester, nylon and acrylic which take hundreds of years to biodegrade. According to the documentary The True Cost released in 2015, the world consumes around 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year, 400 per cent more than the consumption 20 years ago.

Meanwhile, sustainable fashion utilises materials made from natural or recycled fabrics that require little to no chemical treatment, less energy, less water and no pesticides or fertilisers to grow. Materials like linen and hemp are even biodegradable, resulting in less environmental pollution.

“Fast fashion is not just bad for the environment; it also affects workers’ health and livelihood,” Mo said. “The sad reality is that sustainable businesses are still competing with cheaply-produced fast fashion. When you take care of the planet and its people, it comes with a price tag, which most are still reluctant to pay if they can just opt for something at a fraction of the price.

“Sustainable fashion is important not just for environmental preservation. The transparency allows us to see and appreciate the people behind it better. It’s also about preserving those valuable skills such as hand embroidery, weaving and so on when all are replaced by machinery. Sustainability is a mindset; people who embrace sustainable clothing usually practice a mindful lifestyle too.”

Her collection, which is designed to be a capsule wardrobe, features an array of dresses fit for any occasion, lightweight sweaters, cape, skirts, shorts and the iconic white shirt using natural fibres and deadstock.

“Deadstock are leftover/overproduction from fabric mills and could go to landfills if not utilised,” explained Mo. “The advantage is I do not consume more resources to manufacture new material for the collection. The disadvantage is, as it’s a leftover material, I can’t yield more production, thus each of the styles is limited in quantity and sizes. Deadstocks can be made of any fibre blend and I’m currently using a 100 per cent cotton and cotton polyester blend.”

Meanwhile, the natural fibres are generated from inedible agricultural byproducts, sourced directly from local farmers in Thailand.

“The brand was conceived in Thailand, thus all sourcing and production was done locally there,” she said. “The brand was only launched in Bahrain when I relocated here with my husband who handles the financial side of things. The final phase of production was carried out with a local tailor and in-house.”

Fibres used include lemongrass, galangal and pineapple as well as Kapok, which is similar to cotton but consumes much less water, and Modal which is carbon neutral and requires less land and water than cotton.

Mo also uses naturally coloured cotton that doesn’t require dyeing. She cleverly uses coffee grounds from Starbucks to make coffee buttons and all her packagings are plastic free and biodegradable.

“As a small independent label, keeping the business carbon neutral is an ongoing effort,” she added. “I have a tree planting programme where with every purchase; I plant a tree on behalf of the shoppers.

“Eventually, I just want to give back to the community. Part of the things I did back home were volunteering and conducting workshops for underprivileged teens and refugees. Hopefully as the business grows, I would be able to take up a similar role.”

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