lifestyle

6 Local Online Stores That Upcycle Everyday Items Into Fashionable Clothes & Accessories

Being green will never be out of style.

Cover image via Instagram @uncledanaunty & Instagram @bijibijiethicalfashion

It's 2020. Fast fashion is out and sustainable clothing is in.

However, as much as we want to reduce our carbon footprint, shopping for ethical clothing is not always the most convenient or affordable.

Image via GIPHY

Slowly but surely, thrift stores and sustainable fashion labels are cropping up in Malaysia.

So here are six local online stores where you can make greener fashion choices:

1. upsygals

This is their 'Wild Peach' set.

Image via Instagram @upsygals

Their 'Fish Pond Bucket Hat' is reversible too.

Image via Instagram @upsygals

This orangey number is their 'B-Carotene' set.

Image via Instagram @upsygals

upsygals is a sustainable clothes brand headed by fashion design graduate Xinyi and scuba instructor QianKu. Together, they take pre-loved clothes and transform them into stylish and edgy outfits in a bid to move away from the harmful fast fashion industry.

From the recycled threads, trims, and fabrics used, right down to the compostable packaging the items are shipped out in, upsygals definitely had the environment in mind. The majority of furniture and equipment in their studio is from secondhand stores as well.

Their matching sets and bucket hats feature dainty tie straps and hand-stitched or machine sewn embroideries and patchwork.

Being a made-to-order service, you can be sure that their clothes are form-fitting and completely unique.

And the best part? Each month, upsygals donates 20% of their revenue to different non-profit organisations. They donated RM680 to the Lebanese Red Cross in July.

Price: RM15 onwards.

Website | Facebook | Instagram

2. H A S H A D I

Small coin pouches made from a patterned baju kurung.

Image via Instagram @hashadi_

A brown blazer that was repurposed into a duffel bag.

Image via Instagram @hashadi_

This button-down shirt was transformed into a tote bag, and it even has a pocket for your phone.

Image via Instagram @hashadi_

If you're looking for a 'new' tote, H A S H A D I is just the store for you. 

Harrith Hasmadi was cleaning his room when he realised he had accumulated a pile of unused clothes. 

That was when he began working together with his friend Abdul Muhaimin, a fashion student, to repurpose old T-shirts, trousers, batiks, and skirts into colourful tote bags, pouches, lunch bags and even custom bags.

Affordable, roomy, and absolutely trendy, these one-of-a-kind bags are perfect for carrying all your necessities for a day out. 

They've reconstructed clothes in such a practical way too! Their bags made out of jeans or button-down shirts for instance still have their pockets attached, giving you easy access to all your essentials.

Their most recent (and proudest) creation is the 'Blazer Duffle Bag' which uses kain pelikat and baju kurung as the lining.

Price: RM20 for tote bags. RM60 to RM100 for custom bags.

You can check out their Instagram.

3. WAn's Handmade

Mini clasp purse keychains with embroideries.

Image via Instagram @wans.handmade

A black sling bag with an embroidered daisy.

Image via Instagram @wans.handmade

This is their 10.5cm coin purses.

Image via Instagram @wans.handmade

The designer behind these playful and kitschy creations is none other than Wan of Johor-based WAn's Handmade

Currently, they are working on their latest collection which utilises scrap and secondhand fabric.

They do offer a variety of sweet handmade designs, including small clasp bags and coin purses complete with embroidered flowers or sleepy eyes. You can also check out the affordable secondhand clothing items they sell through their Instagram Stories.

Price: RM5 onwards for secondhand items. RM45 onwards for handmade bags.

Website | Facebook | Instagram

4. uncledanaunty

A custom denim jacket called 'Suffocating', featuring their original character 'uncle Bo'.

Image via Instagram @uncledanaunty

Naqibah pictured modelling a couple of thrifted pieces.

Image via Instagram @uncledanaunty

Irfan pictured modelling a couple of thrifted pieces.

Image via Instagram @uncledanaunty

What started off as a hobby soon became a successful small business for students Irfan and Naqibah. uncledanaunty sells curated clothing and thrift-flipped items that are ideal for that laid back yet trendy 'uncle and aunty' look.

More than just clothes though, the 22-year-olds create stunningly detailed pieces of art. Hand-drawn, hand-stitched, and bleached, their custom pieces feature iconic anime scenes and music references.

Irfan's original character 'uncle Bo', which represents him and his life experiences, prominently features on their denim jackets, jeans, and button-downs as well. A particular favourite of Irfan's is 'Addiction', a haunting caricature painted onto a jacket.

Aside from customised items though, uncledanaunty also offers a whole host of thrifted clothing items and accessories that will jazz up your daily looks.

Price: RM50 and below for thrifted items. RM100 onwards for custom pieces.

Browse through their creations on Instagram.

5. KANOE

The 'Pastel Sleeveless Vintage Top'.

Image via KANOE

This is their 'Lil Millie Cropped Top'.

Image via KANOE

Previously, they created kimonos out of tea towels.

Image via Instagram @kanoewear

Founded in 2016 by Noelle Kan, who has a Masters in Fashion, KANOE is an ethical and sustainable fashion label that designs pieces inspired by the tropics. All garments are designed in-house by a small but mighty team who are paid fair wages and work in healthy environments.

The four-year-old company has always had sustainability in mind. Most recently, Kanoe fashioned their chic batik 'Lil Millie Cropped Tops' from various textiles the label has collected over the years.

Made from intricate hand stamped batik, Noelle's current favourite is the 'Pastel Sleeveless Vintage Top' which is sure to add a splash of colour to any wardrobe.

On top of that, KANOE works alongside local businesses, artisans, and communities to produce a couple of their collections. For their first collection 'Dolce Far Niente', KANOE worked with Indian organisation WomenWeave which supports women with sustainable income through their handwoven craft.

Price: RM30 onwards.

Website | Instagram

6. Biji Biji

This pouch is made out of seatbelts.

Image via Instagram @bijibijiethicalfashion

The bag was made from vintage kimonos.

Image via Instagram @bijibijiethicalfashion

A pouch made from advertisement banners.

Image via Instagram @bijibijiethicalfashion

A subsidiary brand of the well-established Biji-biji Initiative, Biji Biji is a local ethical fashion label that reuses materials sourced from a range of industries around the world.

Their latest collection transforms faulty seat belt webbing into sleek and shiny purses and bags. 

Other materials they have salvaged and repurposed includes, deadstock vintage kimonos and even tarpaulin banners. I especially love their quirky pouches that have retained images that advertising companies had previously printed onto them.

You can also be sure that their workers are treated fairly and are housed in a safe and hygienic working environment.

Price: RM29 onwards.

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Feeling thrifty? Check out these 12 stores in Klang Valley where you're sure to get a steal:

If you're unsure of where to start, you can head on to these stores to swap our everyday essentials for more sustainable alternatives:

You can also support Orang Asli women who have turned trash into minimalistic succulent pots: