An excellent read overviewing the industry and important comparisons to be made.
Overconsumption on a finite planet — these unsustainable practices have led to unimaginable suffering for both humans and animals, and caused irreversible damage to the environment.
But there is hope in individuals and organizations around the world, as they take on the mammoth task of promoting ethical consumption.
From the very first Earth Day in 1970 to present-day online demands for accountability, people have grown more aware of their collective power for change. One Google search leads discerning consumers to know more about the company. It then gets harder for brands to fake causes when people are becoming more vigilant, as the consequences could lead to boycotts or a total shutdown.
Humanitarian organizations like Save the Children have been actively educating disadvantaged communities to stop child labor. They provide child protection, health assistance, and family reunification in partnership with multinational corporations.
Business owners have taken it upon themselves to stop the cycle of poverty within communities and adapt sustainable practices. Their foundation is built on fare wages, flexible work options, and sourcing of local, organic products.
One place where these advocacies come together is Bali, Indonesia. There are now more businesses in Bali that advocate for ethical products and sustainable livelihoods. These companies respect the source of their products. They promote slow fashion, and are not after mass production. They prioritize the welfare of their employees and use homegrown resources.
These are just six of the best ethical and sustainable fashion brands in Bali creating ripples of change worldwide:
As the name suggests, Bambooku makes eco-friendly luxury linens out of bamboo. The company started in 2017 after the deadly landslide in Kintamani district Bali, which left women widowed and struggling to provide for their children. Since then, Bambooku and ‘Takesumi’ were brought to the village by Bamboo charcoal-burning Master Sumi-Yaki to provide livelihood for families that need it most.
The bamboo charcoal is called Takesumi, best known in the market as “activated charcoal”. It is carbonized charcoal from bamboos oven-burnt at 800 to 1200 degrees celsius. With its long list of beauty and health benefits, it’s regarded as ‘the black diamond from Japan’.
Along with their variety of Takesumi products, Bambooku creates eco-friendly towels, bedding, and clothes that are sold in Seminyak and Ubud, Bali. Their products are not only sustainable, they’re also sensitive skin-friendly and super healthy.
2. Bare Boutique
Ultra-breathable underwear made of Bamboo — that’s Bare Boutique’s line of basics and intimates. Its owner is Melbourne-based Kiwi Kara Kupe, who represents her indigenous Maori roots in her designs. Her first collection launch in October 2017 was named Parauri, meaning brown or dark in Maori. Kupe has since become an active voice in pushing for diversity in fashion, aside from promoting sustainable clothing.
Kupe and Bare Boutique has been featured in Vogue and other publications discussing her ‘redefined flesh tones’, the different palettes in her designs that complement women of color in all sizes.
In her Vogue Business interview, Kupe talks about the lack of representation in fashion, “Our bodies are often problematised in the mainstream representations of us. It is powerful to have an editorial of Indigenous femmes and to showcase self-representation that celebrates our strength and our beauty as Indigenous peoples.”
This empowerment extends to women in Bali by providing fair wages and the freedom to sew in their homes. She respects slow fashion and stands against the exploitation of workers, especially people of color. With Kupe’s leadership and strong stance to raise minorities up, Bare Boutique has grown to be a world-renowned sustainable fashion brand.
Commended by Bali environmental organizations, Indosole successfully works towards reducing ocean and landfill waste. Its founder Kyle Parsons visited Bali in 2004 and bought his first pair of sandals with soles made from old tires. This sparked an idea that would eventually help improve their local employees’ lives and waste disposal in Bali.
Indosole is one of the best-known fair-trade companies in Bali, employing highly skilled Balinese men and women to create their products. The primary material used for their footwear products are ruined or old tires, making it sustainable and durable.
Their world-class products come in unique and classy styles, with designs featuring traditional Indonesian patterns.
4. La Boheme
Organic fashion meets French flair, that’s home décor brand La Boheme. They create chic textiles for homes, villas, resorts, and hotels. Founded in Ubud and newly relocated in Lisbon, Portugal, this young company creates dyed pieces that are naturally colored from flowers and plants. Their products such as cushions, tablecloths, scarves, and clothes are all woven and dyed by hand. They show the talents of Balinese artisans in creating unique traditional designs.
Since it was established in Ubud, La Boheme has provided jobs and opportunities for the locals in the area. These pieces are not only luxurious, but they also last a long time.
5. Above The Clouds
One of the best ethical fashion companies in Bali, Above The Clouds features comfortable, hand-made clothing for men. Comfort and style are perfectly balanced with materials made from linen and cotton, perfect for the tropical Bali weather.
Aside from being eco-friendly, they continue to provide work for homemakers with children, and only partner with small family owned fabric manufacturers. With sustainability and fair trade in mind, they make sure that, “No intermediates are involved and we know our partners are important chain links of the added-value created. We are proud to be able to reward them significantly for their skilled workmanship.”
All the materials and talents are locally sourced, and each step is made lovingly by hand. When you buy one of their products, you’re supporting the livelihood of locals and carry a piece of their heritage, too.
Comfortable, chic, and ethical, Above The Clouds lives up to their name through comfort and purpose.
6. Susila Jewelry
The team behind Susila Jewelry continue to bring meaningful, eco-friendly products by working with Balinese women.
Susila Jewelry focuses on women empowerment and creating sustainable jewelries in Bali. Their artisans are Balinese mothers that are given flexible, work from home options. Creating intricate accessories by hand is a strong suit of Balinese women, and Susila Jewelry celebrates the long line of culture and heritage of this years-old tradition. They sell beautiful, yet affordable jewelries in bulk. Their unique and handmade jewelries are available in 100% plastic-free versions.
Established in 2012, they have grown to become one of the well-known Indonesian jewelry brands. They continue to work with different organizations for social projects involving not only their employees, but also the disadvantaged Balinese children.