Sustainability is in – with more companies pledging ethical and environmentally-sourced products and production techniques, it’s hard to filter out the legitimate ones from the ones merely riding the trend. A term that is increasingly used (and overused in some cases), sustainable fashion is an umbrella term coined for clothes that are created in a way that maintains ecological integrity and social justice. Let’s be honest, as consumers, it’s definitely easy to get lost in all the jargon and believe things at a superficial level without really understanding the marketing ploys most companies throw at us. The sheer number of factors in the sustainability matrix is daunting, ranging from tackling overproduction to ensuring that workers are treated well.
Enter ‘Our Barehands’. A brand that breaks it down for the everyday consumer, they are committed to expanding their business meaningfully, taking every effort to ensure that their products are sustainable, in every sense of the word. A social enterprise founded by three Singaporean millennials – Chanel Go, Germaine Lye and Mitchell Zachariah Hong, ‘Our Barehands’ provides a platform for artisans all over the world to bring their talents to life (with their bare hands – we’ll explain in a bit). After working with small producing communities in Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar and India, it was hard for the trio to go back to their normal lives and just sweep stories of social injustices under the rug. Wanting to make a difference, this was when ‘Our Barehands’ was born. Their work involves co-creating unique pieces such as apparels, accessories, shoes and bags with small producing communities from all over the world. Each piece is painstakingly crafted by hand, made with utmost patience and care.
By uncovering the hidden talent and skills in artisans from all corners of the globe, ‘Our Barehands’ not only gives these individuals a livelihood, but a platform to unlock their potential. They recently collaborated with the Refugee Sewing Community in Malaysia, many who were devoid of the rights accorded to normal citizens. It was common to hear stories of such individuals being unemployed or taken advantage of. However, a chance meeting with Germaine, Chanel and Mitchell opened doors, providing them with long-term financial stability and imbuing a sense of hope.
Additionally, ‘Our Barehands’ has taken lengths to cover the gaps and perpetuate change in the fashion industry. Noticing that unwanted clothes often ended up in landfills, they pioneered a Made-to-Order (MTO) approach for mid-tier segment artisanal products, where consumers can get their pieces fitted to the last inch. This way, it avoids overproduction and at the same time, helps the consumer plan their purchases better, which equates to less wastage. Even better, the pieces can even be altered to fit your body type, giving you that perfect silhouette.
Slip into the Aurelie Crop Top ($54), their crop top with a twist, made with love by Mr JS of the Refugee Sewing Community. It comes in gorgeous, earthy colours like Natural Sand and Forest Pine. The Mandarin Shirt ($69) is the perfect everyday shirt – durable, breathable and versatile; a cooling fit in the humid weather. What’s more, the MTO approach also helps mitigate the carbon footprint brought about by the never-ending shipping of products to and fro different countries. Instead, orders are consolidated and shipped in one go. ‘Our Barehands’ hopes that their efforts can show their peers in the fashion industry that sustainability is a real possibility.
With their 2nd anniversary just around the corner, they plan to usher in the celebrations in a way that honours the customers, collaborators and artisans. In true ‘Our Barehands’ fashion, they will be partnering with two local designers for a limited edition collection. Apart from the collection, their customers will be treated to a lucky draw as well as gifts kindly sponsored by other local brands. Despite being relatively young, ‘Our BareHands’ is already racking up a huge storm in the local fashion industry and triggering a change in more ways than one. Safe to say, they are definitely trendsetters in their own right.
Check out their latest collection here: https://ourbarehands.com