Are eco-fashion startups true to their vision?

Annaborgia 2016 Capsule Collection

SAN FRANCISCO, United States — The average American now throws away about 70 pounds of clothing each year, which ends up in our landfills. Large companies like H&M and Zara, among others, who produce cheap fast fashion, vastly contribute to this environmental world waste crisis. Amid this growing problem, we decided to take a closer look at eco-conscious fashion start-ups as some obvious questions raise: Are they true to their vision of sustainable fashion? Or is it a marketing strategy and purely a revenue driver? We speak with two earth-conscience start-ups to find out.


Annaborgia is a San Francisco-based vegan fashion brand launched in summer of 2015 by former wedding photographer Daniela Degrassi. Astounded by the disposable nature of wedding attire, she set out on a quest to revolutionise the bridal fashion industry with a more PETA-approved and sustainable approach.


Today’s brides and bridesmaids are looking for smarter alternatives to mass-produced, one-time-wear bridal attire. The brand’s innovation is a versatile evening wear that will break through in traditional formal wedding attire, and pioneer in creating sustainable, cruelty-free and ethical evening wear that easily transition from day to evening, spring to autumn and wedding day to resort.

Annaborgia defyes the tradition that  you should only wear your bridal dress on your wedding day, and encourages brides to look outside the box when purchasing their wedding attire. In doing so, this brand keeps us away from the madness of seasonal collections and fast fashion, while tackling the massive clothing waste currently piling up in our landfills.

Despite these efforts, is the company meeting consumer demands while also remaining true to its vision of sustainability?

The designer thrives on creating a capsule collection using only luxurious vegan, cruelty-free fabrics made from Japanese textiles free of toxic dyes that are harmful to the environment, not to mention that the fabric is wrinkle-resistant! Who wouldn’t love a wrinkle-free wedding dress? It allows those that dislike ironing and practical jet-setters to ease their travelling without the extra burden of steam or dry cleaning the dress, thus also avoiding chemicals on the dress that can contribute to Earth pollution! In addition, the brand is designed in Italy and manufactured ethically in San Francisco, thus, also eliminating overseas production and workers’ exploitation.

What we think

Annaborgia is true to its vision of sustainable fashion in bridal wear. The label recently won San Francisco’s “Best Sustainable Collection of 2016”, so they must be doing something right. We especially love that the fabrics are vegan and wrinkle-resistant. Their recent 2016 capsule collection of classic-coloured minimalism and simple silhouettes, makes re-wearing a wedding gown to another event a hassle and guilt-free second experience. Not only will we save money on not having to buy a new dress, but putting good use to the dress we love and know we look good in, is certainly a win-win situation! The collection is sold exclusively on-line to avoid over manufacturing of multiple sizes and styles that may go to waste associated with a physical store. This also keeps the brand’s overheads low to ensure luxury products and top-notch craftsmanship at a reasonable price point from $125 to $700.


Rebagg is a fashion e-commerce startup founded 2.5 years ago by a team out of Harvard Business School along with Google to fill a void in the resale marketplace. Headquartered in New York City and backed by leading US venture capital firms and superstar angel investors Fabrice Grinda, Rebagg is taking reuse and recycling of your designer handbags to a whole new level.


Innovation is an on-line service conceived to purchase pre-owned designer handbags from customer’s closets and partners with stylists and personal shoppers through a strategic and incentivised programme. Conveniently, turning your bags into cash. The service is more instantaneous compared to consignment as they pay upfront (2-3 business days after they receive your handbag). Also, they don’t take any commission, thus the individual receives 100% of the quoted price. It’s a sustainable, new way of shopping for luxury designer handbags.

Is the company meeting consumer demands while also remaining true to its vision of sustainability?

Rebagg is technically not an eco-conscious fashion brand, but rather a new way of shopping. The company’s vision was not intended to be sustainable, but rather to fill a void in the resale marketplace. Unintentionally, this way of shopping does contribute to a more sustainable, ethical and cruelty-free luxury lifestyle because it promotes buying and selling used luxury products.

What we think

We believe that this smart way of shopping is environmentally responsible because by continuing to recycle (resale or reuse) second-hand designer handbags, it prevents us from purchasing a brand new one. Just think, if more people started to shop this way, there would be less demand for new products. In return, there would be a decline in wasteful materials sitting in landfills, less cruelty in animals for their skin and less child labour as the knockoff market will also dwindle down. Little, as it may be, is still contributing, and it does make a difference.

We conclude that Rebagg’s vision wasn’t meant to be an eco-conscious company to begin with, but we found the end result of this new age shopping experience to be, well, conscience shopping. And that may be just good enough for us!

Courtesy of: and

A Fashionable Way to Tackle Climate Change

upcycling design initiative
upcycling design initiative
Courtesy of auferstanden

VIENNA, Austria — An historic agreement has been reached at the Climate Conference in Paris to keep the temperature rise below two Degrees Celsius, enforced recycling being among the planned actions.

The starting point for the Climate Conference was the adoption of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The goal of the COP (Conference of Parties) is to review the implementation of the framework for stabilising greenhouse gas emissions.

Recycling was a major topic of this year’s Climate Conference – not only were recycled products used but also several parties stressed the crucial impact of recycling on the reduction of emissions. According to the “Environmental Benefits of Recycling” report of 2008, 500 million tonnes of CO2 emission savings can be achieved only through recycling.

In light of this landmark, let us introduce you to auferstanden, an upcycling design initiative in Vienna, and its founder Veronika Stocker.

upcycling design initiative
Veronika Stocker, founder of auferstanden

What is “auferstanden” and what triggered your decision to found a business in the field of upcycled designs?

The German word “auferstanden” means revived and stands for our mission to give a second life to materials that have already been used before. We strive to feature creative designs made from waste and residual material. Furthermore, our vision is to become a platform for young and innovative Austrian artists and designers.

“Auferstanden” also reflects how I changed my mind set. I left the jet set life, flying around the world and buying a lot of unnecessary things. It all started with a three week business trip to Australia which ended up lasting for three months. I had always been obsessed with taking as many things as I could with me. When I returned, I was baffled by my huge closet and donated a lot of my clothes – it was a big relief. I went to Cameroon with my late business partner and was inspired by the local kids making new and very creative things with very little resources out of waste. In December 2013, we opened our store offering a tailoring service to transform old pieces into stylish new things combined with a big range of design products.

Who are your suppliers?

I have a very close collaboration with an Austrian carpenter, who is extremely creative when it comes to developing new upcycled products. Furthermore, I have a fixed pool of designers which I mix with new designers to keep it interesting for the customers. Moreover, we have regular projects with social initiatives in Vienna.

How do you think auferstanden differentiates itself within the (online) retail market and the sustainable business market? How would you describe your brand’s identity?

We have a big portfolio of products in contrast to our competitors, who often focus on one product type (e.g. bags or furniture). Furthermore, we address men and women across all age groups and constantly strive to be innovative and offer new products. I think that a growing number of people do care about where their food, apparel and furniture come from. That is why we branded auferstanden as local, sustainable and social. 95 per cent of the products are of Austrian origin, the remaining 5 per cent are products from social initiatives from Kenia or Cambodia, for example. Furthermore, we ensure that all the products are hand-made, using upcycled waste materials. We make sure that the working conditions meet our criteria and where possible, we focus on partnerships with social projects. Our slogan “one of a kind loves purpose” emphasises the clear purpose of our products.

Which challenges do you identify in the field of sustainable design and upcycling?

Perception is a big issue: upcycled products are very often considered as green only and not as stylish. “Auferstanden” aims to prove that sustainable products can look stylish and appealing. Moreover, there is a big lack of awareness about the need for sustainability. Organic products are very popular because people care about the direct affect. However, despite a big movement in fashion after the Rana Plaza scandal, the average person on the street does not care who produced their apparel with which methods and chemicals. Furthermore, a lot of sustainable products are niche products because of their premium price. In addition, it is very difficult to determine if the supply chain is completely ethical and sustainable — we see that not only cheap but even luxury brands exploit people and the environment.

What is your plan to take your upcycling approach further?

We are currently building up our online business and using additional distribution channels, such as museum shops and pop-up stores. Therefore, our products will be made available to a broader customer base. Concerning our suppliers and partnerships, I want to keep the local approach for the time being. I never want to manufacture in countries where I cannot ensure that our standards are met.

Needless to say, “auferstanden” is paving the way to contribute to achieving the climate targets in a fashionable way. Share with us, in the commentary section, similar projects that are happening in your home town!

upcycling design initiative
Courtesy of auferstanden

Filobio: nature inside

Bunny and Blanket, Filobio

GRINZANE CAVOUR, Italy — Buying organic cloths and tracing the primary sources, processing and development of goods, is a growing awareness trend among the eco-conscious and fashionistas alike. The readily available information on pesticides, cotton crops and chemical treatment is dramatically changing the way we think about and buy clothing. For many consumers, choosing organic clothing is a way of life; it is the lifestyle they choose to live not only for their own health and the health of their children but also for the wellbeing of their communities and the environment.

During my tireless search of great quality, healthy products and beautiful designs, I came across Filobio, an Italian organic brand best described by the words health and beauty: healthy is simply beautiful!

Through the creation of clothing for children aged 0 to 4, Filobio seeks to marry health with beauty, simplicity with elegance and comfort with refinement. Through the search and the use of natural fibres such as merino and cashmere wools (they use only 100% organic cotton), Filobio is committed to the preservation of the environment and ensuring that their customers wear the most natural fabrics available on the market. Not to mention that all their designs are made with exclusive fabrics, finishing with completely toxic-free accessories for valuable and beautiful “Made in Italy” products.

Filobio Autumn – winter 2015 collection

Health above all

During a conversation with Paola Alluvione, co-founder of Filobio, she highlights the importance for kids to wear organic clothing: “It is necessary to pay attention to what we buy in order to safeguard our children’s health, focusing above all on fabrics’ dyeing and finishing techniques. For example, choosing organic cotton, you – young mothers – can help to save the planet for your children, setting in motion a change in the way we produce.”

Filobio: 100% organic cotton

Cotton continues to be the most widely used and popular textile fibre in the world. However non-organic cotton production alone accounts for 1/4 of the world’s insecticide use. Only 2.4% of the world’s cropland is planted with cotton while 25% of all the world’s insecticides and 11% of all the world’s pesticides are used on it. During the conversion of conventional cotton into clothing, numerous toxic chemicals (harsh petroleum scours, heavy metals, ammonia and formaldehyde… just to name a few) are added at each stage.

Differently from conventional cotton, organic cotton is completely natural and pure, more durable and soft to touch. Having not absorbed chemicals, it keeps its original qualities intact. Moreover, the organic cotton certification is given only after three years of chemical-free cultivation. As Paola explains:

“All our products are made from 100% organic cotton and merino wool: we choose only the best natural fabrics achieved by a carefully controlled production process.” Paola continues: “Filobio always chooses quality so that mothers who choose to buy our clothes and products in general can be sure to have made the best choice!”

Mums look at the label and tissue composition of the clothing that you buy, you have the right (and duty) to ask retailers (when we buy a cloth) where it comes from and why (how) it is made.

Filobio likes transparency

Mums, do you know that your children’s skin is thinner and more fragile than your (adult) skin? Babies’ skin also produces less melanin; this means that children are at greater risk for pesticide-related health problems than adults. Therefore, those who choose organic clothing for their children, can really reduce their kids’ exposure to toxins.

Filobio is the first company that produces children’s clothing monitoring each phase of production to verify the true health and non-toxicity of the fabrics used. It uses only low impact cotton that is not farmed in the conventional way for an end product that is totally toxin-free. Garments are finished without using plastic resins. Filobio clothes are all certified by the Textile and Health Association in order to allow the supply chain traceability of every (certified) item giving consumers a valid instrument to recognise a safe product.

To this end Paola adds: “The certification obtained from the Textile and Health Association is very important for our productions. “Organic” is not enough to certify a carefully controlled production process of the clothes we decide to buy for our (children’s) health. The economy, to be functional to society, needs to respect not only people but also animals and nature.”

I, for example, respect above all myself trying to not put competition in the first place of my business. There are many important values such as happiness, entertainment and beauty that alone would be enough to change the economy.

Filobio: the production

Filobio clothes are all made by an Indian company including 1,500 farmers scattered among 34 different villages of the Madya Pradesh’s rural area where their cotton is grown.

Filobio production

Regarding the Filobio cooperative system production, Paola explains: “Filobio organic cotton comes from India where the Filobio project was born. The project stems from a farmers’ cooperative who used to work as a multinational corporations’ employees and then became associated for the sake of their health also gaining even more!”

In the whole of its production, the cooperative subscribes to the standards of fair trade using low impact dyeing programmes for their cotton, and just water colours (never PVC) to apply (by hand) the screen prints on their garments. The company also possesses Eko Social Accountability 8000 for its ethical working conditions.

How to start an organic business

If you think that an eco-brand is the right path for you and your business in children organic clothing, I share with you five simple steps on how to set up your own organic brand and build your brand.

  1. Develop your “brand motto” that describes who you are and what your brand is for;
  2. Choose a specific niche: who is your market target? Ask around and get feedback.
  3. The next important factor is quality. The brand needs to reflect high-standards: What differentiates you from your competitors?;
  4. Design a logo, people can recognise you by your logo.
  5. Now you are ready for design your clothing line.

“Children’s world is very joyful but not for that simpler than other sectors. In my opinion and from my experience with children’s fashion industry, it is fundamental to add something, any element that can make the difference and have lots of courage!” Paola concludes with a smile.

Anito, Filobio

Delightful Discounts!

Filobio is offering to our FG readers a 20% discount on its entire collection until 31st October. Just use promo code: FASHIONGLOBE during your next purchase at

COURTESY OF AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Paola Alluvione – Filobio, Laura Manfrin and Maura Busatto – TWINS PR&MEDIA. WEBSITE:

Drink it and wear it!

Photography by: Jason Chen, SINGTEX INDUSTRIAL CO. LTD.

TAIPEI, Taiwan — When you smell the aroma of roasted coffee, where do you imagine you are? Maybe at a trendy coffee shop in Italy? Or perhaps in one of the historical Viennese coffee houses? Or maybe just passing by a Starbucks? For some of us coffee means more than just a booster to get us through our busy routines, as it can also be associated with socialisation, modern styles and even fashion trends. But would you associate coffee grounds with avant-guard textiles? This unlikely combination came to life thanks to Jason Chen, the founder of S.Café® and President of SINGTEX®, a textile company in Taiwan which has revolutionised the textile industry by using coffee grounds: giving a boost to green technology and the eco-friendly fashion community.

Ingeniously, Jason Chen decided to give a new life to coffee grounds by recycling them to develop many coffee related products resulting in the acquisition of numerous patents and awards, a successful path that has not stopped his research and studies taking the world one bean at a time.

Not a Joke

Many great inventions get inspiration from the little things in life and Jason’s invention is no exception. Jason recalls the joke his wife made which lead to the creation of SINGTEX®.

“There is a little story…On a hot sunny day, I was enjoying a cup of coffee with my wife at Starbucks… and all of a sudden we saw someone asking for coffee grounds, which caught my wife’s attention. She suddenly said: ‘It would be great if you could incorporate coffee grounds into clothes, you would smell better!’ I know coffee grounds have a deodorising function, therefore I thought that this idea would probably boost my textile business as well as promote environmental benefits, and so I gave it a try!”

More Setbacks, More Gains

Ten years ago, the textile industry was not as mature as it is today and the SINGTEX® team was the first of its kind to put coffee grounds into textiles. As expected, his team had to overcome many challenges and setbacks during the development and production phase of coffee yarns. As Jason recalls:

“In 2005 I began to lead four doctoral research developments, incurring high costs for more practical procedures, to create coffee yarns. However, we kept encountering challenges in the process and realised that the main problem was on the technique, the pure capability to handle recycled coffee grains, grounds and slag… from everywhere, while it still contained oil and water. It had to be super dry to make raw fibres. Another problem we had was the colour as it was difficult to decolour. Finally we found the solution by using an expensive high-tech extraction machine originally used for Chinese medicine, to extract and absorb coffee colour. We tested it so many times until the eighth sample was a success.”

However, not all the problems were over yet. As Jason continues: “The smell surprised us! The combination of coffee grounds and the smell of human body gave another strange smell. It was really not a very good smell… and very far from a deodorant, can you imagine? Anyway after a lot of work, all the problems were solved in the development process and now our S.Café® product is going to the be upgraded to the next level.”

Coffee Fashion Textile

Since formally launched in 2009, SINGTEX® has developed and produced a great variety of coffee-related products. S.Café® currently includes coffee yarns, coffee fabrics, clothing, underwear, bedding and shoes. These products can be found all over Europe, America, Japan and South Korea in collaboration with more than 110 international brands.

Photography by: Jason Chen, SINGTEX INDUSTRIAL CO. LTD.

The basic procedure to obtain the green fibre S.Cafe’® yarn includes mixing the coffee residue into a recycled plastic bottle material and re-polymerising to master batch and spinning to a coffee yarn, this is the basic procedure. The raw material is a combination of coffee and recycled polyester; the finished textile quality and appearance are as good as those achieved by using new materials.”

One further invention is the P4DRY™ that uses repurposed coffee grounds to make a 3D printed layer that has four principle functions: a quick-drying touch, an odour control, reduction of the condensation rate and is a tremendously sustainable product. P4DRY™ obtained the iF Innovative Design Award at the Outdoor Show in Germany in 2013.

Mylithe™ is another new invention and the latest development of S.Café®. This new textile is for functional clothes such as yoga, jogging and comfortable wear in general. The technique utilises an “air texture” method to create a cotton-like hand feel for S.Café mylithe™ while maintaining the odour control, UV protection and fast drying functions.

Coffee Beauty Products

In addition to textiles the SINGTEX® team has found other coffee benefits such as the production of coffee oil – a pure oil extracted from coffee grounds, which is great on skin care products. As Jason explains:

“In order to get the pure coffee oil we have spent more than 10 million Taiwan dollars to purchase machinery based on supercritical extraction technology. The intention is to explore more than just coffee grounds as pure oil makes a great contribution to the cross-border operation of business in beauty and health. The latest patent related to coffee oil includes a coffee shampoo series and cosmetic commodities, which are made using a unique supercritical extraction system.”

Coffee Sporty Lifestyle

To respond to the current wave of global environmental awareness, SINGTEX® developed the new material brand, S.Café AIRNEST™, an organic foam made of both coffee grounds and coffee oil to replace the general PU foam produced by petroleum; the replacement achieves at least 25% of petrochemical raw materials. It had been approved and recognised by an international raw material test report. S.Café AIRNEST™ obtained the Top 5 award at the European ISPO show sparking the attention of many customers while at the same time gaining business partnerships.

Photography by: Jason Chen, SINGTEX INDUSTRIAL CO. LTD.

This is enough to show the current trend of environmental protection and an ever growing global desire for environmentally-friendly clothing materials.

Another invention is a special waterproofing membrane made of coffee oil, which is flexible, light and extremely thin, but the performance is much better than other PU or PVC materials.

“The technique introduces the hydrophile into coffee oil material achieving not only high waterproofing but also excellent moisture permeability,” highlights Jason.

This is an innovative functional textile, a new introduction to textile lamination process techniques, enhancing the added value of textiles. It is now widely used in ski suits, sporty coats, jackets, gloves, hats, bedspreads and other sports and comfortable wear.

The Advances of Eco-friendly Technology

We are curious to know which is Jason’s favourite invention and of which he is the most proud from the products of S.Café®:

“I am proud of each one of the products we developed. They represent the efforts, energy and time of our team. We will continue to develop to achieve a full range of eco-friendly coffee products. In addition to textiles, we would like to improve a large extension of S.Café® and apply it to different fields of business.”

“In order to achieve full use of waste: grains, grounds or slags, we will continue to explore further options. In the past eight years, we have successfully developed some private brands including S.Cafe®, ICE CAFÉ®, eco²sy®, P4DRY™, sefia™, mylithe™, AIRNEST™, AEx Technology™ and Coffee cotton allowing us to create a whirlwind in new textiles leading the growth of output value and scale in the eco-friendly field.”

Coffee ground applications will extend into daily life, step by step, this coffee power has continued to spread, not only as a commodity but also as a fantastic eco-friendly technology.

Optimism Brings Opportunity To Success

Jason Chen is an optimistic person by nature, not afraid of hardship and a fantastic leader of the development team of SINGTEX®. Take S.Café® as an example, the team knew nothing about coffee at the beginning and have spent a great deal of time and effort in research and experimentation, after several attempts and adjustments to transfer strange material into an opportunity to create today’s success. Jason concludes on a positive note:

For solving problems, my motto is to ‘overcome difficulties that are not difficult to overcome.’ I like to learn problem-solving skills. I often encounter the challenges of an operating business, but as long as we maintain our optimism, we are not afraid of difficulties and will be able to solve all our problems!

SINGTEX® is committed to participate in various international exhibitions on textiles and clothing and has recently been busy at the European outdoor show in Germany, followed by the Outdoor Retailer Summer Exhibition in Salt Lake City in the United States where you can find them at booth number 255-101. Then they will be at the Premie’re Vision in September in Paris and the Intertextile Textile Exhibition in October in Shanghai. A busy schedule is ahead of them!

The continued efforts of people like Jason Chen to develop new and eco-friendly textiles is a great thing for the planet as well as to provide a more comfortable future for us all! If you have any questions or suggestions about SINGTEX® research and development or are interested in any of its products, please share your thoughts with us in the commentary section below or get in touch with Jason Chen and his team.

Courtesy of: Jason Chen | Photography by: Jason Chen, SINGTEX INDUSTRIAL CO. LTD. | All rights reserved to: SINGTEX INDUSTRIAL CO. LTD. | Website:

Dare to Dream

Dream Nation
Dream Nation
All images – Dream Nation

LONDON, United Kingdom — As Kermit the Frog once said, “it’s not easy being green” but wherever you are from and whatever your opinion on conserving the environment for the next generation, and the generation after that, it seems that adopting the eco approach takes precedence in everyone’s life some way or another.

The clothes we wear on a daily basis are coming under increasing scrutiny, and with more sustainable materials and techniques at our fingertips, adding a greener touch to our wardrobe has never been so easy, particularly with brands like Dream Nation leading the way. No longer do we have to make a choice between style and the planet, the designer behind the Warsaw-based brand, Luiza Jacob, has made it possible for us to have it all.

Dream Nation
All images – Dream Nation

Respecting humanity and nature

Urbanwear is always a huge hit on the global fashion scene, but very often it isn’t dubbed with the eco-friendly credentials that we aspire to embrace with our wardrobes. Dream Nation is different.

As Luiza explains: “All my collections are made from organic cotton with GOTS certification which I buy raw in Turkey, print in Poland and sew in a small manufacture in Warsaw.”

Dream Nation
All images – Dream Nation

I think that the reason why our premium eco-couture urbanwear label works so well and I am able to sustain my eco techniques is that my production chain is clear and I control every single level of it.

With an inspirational mantra – dare to dream – the brand isn’t held back by its passion for working exclusively with organic cotton. Their colourful, avant-garde prints are becoming as recognisable throughout the fashion world as their respect for humanity and nature, and the brand’s latest collection has already swept nine countries respectively.

“After working for a big chain brand for a number of years my eyes were opened to what is really behind the billboards sporting beautiful models and clothes. Like Ghandi said, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ and with that Dream Nation was born,” added Luiza.

The dirty side of fashion

Dream Nation’s latest collection for Spring/Summer 2015, aptly named “Ghost”, maintains the eco-friendly ethos that the wider brand has held dear since its inception. Ghost is a celebration of colour, pattern, street fashion and organic cotton, but it is the reality of modern slavery in today’s fashion industry that compels Luiza to design and develop each and every collection.

I believe that only independent designers can change the dirty side of this huge industry.

Luiza continues: “When big players from chain stores see that people are buying sustainable fashion they will change their supply chains, so emerging designers everywhere have a responsibility to use sustainable fabrics and low impact technology as well as deliver something new and innovative to the wider market – three musts that I too aim to tick off my to-do list with each collection.”

Wear the world, change the world

Inspired by the world that surrounds us, Dream Nation’s Ghost collection is the definition of free spirit and a symbol of the modern world. Luiza is busy expanding her empire with tailored pieces and eco-inspired accessories, with her next collection motivated by vintage Moroccan tiles, so just what will the new season bring for eco-conscious fashion lovers like ourselves? We can’t wait to find out.

Courtesy of: DREAM NATION | Website: DREAMNATION.EU | Also available at: THE-CLOTHINGLOUNGE.COM