A huge part of the work behind the soon-to-be-launched (once I get my costing done!) FRAGMENTS MAKE ONE WHOLE collection is over. Or should I say, it has only just begun? Creatively and artistically, the baby steps of Su by Hand as a brand has taken root, and will be evolving, becoming.
Commercially though, it is as good as zero since this begun really, as a result of my passion for craft, textiles and I hesitate to use the word, 'fashion’. Fashion no longer makes sense to me, but meaningful, beautiful clothing does. In not naming this as a SS19 or FW19 or resort or xxx-timeline collection, I hope to embody a sense of a timeless continuity. The clothes we buy, should hopefully be timeless or at least made and designed to last a few seasons, a few years, and in the case of intricately crafted pieces, generations, like beautiful vintage clothing.
It took me years of complex internal struggle as a believer of sustainable ‘fashion’ to even tinkle with the idea of starting a brand, let alone make a collection. Firstly, fashion is a tough business as there is SO MUCH WORK that goes into making clothes to fit the body, not just a one-size-fits-all cup, excuse the comparison. Maintaining it commercially also takes the fun out of creating. Importantly though, the whole idea of sustainability runs counter to starting a brand and making more clothes, more ‘fashion’, given the amount of options already available on the market. But I finally concluded that the ONLY way to strengthen or promote a message, is to have VISIBILITY. And visibility is possible only when one has something to show for it. Given the void in the market for brands that offer artisanal one-offs or limited make-to-order styles with amazing finishing that give consumer real value, Su by Hand seemed probable.
For this collection, only dead-stock fabric was used. But I will not claim sustainability credential for using dead-stock fabric as the truth is, dead-stock fabric isn’t exactly fabric that the mills will discard or incinerate anyway. Some use will always be found for it. So there is a lot of greenwashing behind brands that base their sustainability credentials on that. Dead-stock fabrics is just an amazing solution for small indie brands! We get great qualities at low prices because the yardage left are usually too small for big commercial brands that do not produce 5, 10, or 20 pieces of each style, but rather, hundreds or thousands of pieces per style.
Su by Hand is sustainable only because it is artisanal, with one off and small-batch, make-to-order pieces that emphasise the crafted aspect of the brand. A lot of time is taken to make each piece from hand-dyeing the textiles using natural materials (all the roots and barks..), to developing each design first on sketch and then in toiles (making of prototypes) with the studio. Most of the pieces in this collection were made in the production atelier operated by Lok Kwan Social Enterprise. They are old school, they make paper patterns by hand, and have the ability to place and cut each pattern piece around the prints that I make.
There we go, and so the story begins :)