Aimee Changco & BaemBu, on the road for sustainable fashion

In the big bad world of fast fashion, quality is expendable and growth is at an all-time high. But, thanks to a small collective of fashion-minded eco-warriors, we are seeing prolific high-street brands named and shamed for their less than an upstanding commitment to sustainable and ethical practices. At the forefront of homegrown, organic clothing here in Dubai is the breakthrough bio brand, BaemBu. Offering thoughtful, ecologically conscious clothing, we sat down with their chief change maker, Aimee Changco, to find out more...

Tell us, what does ethical and sustainable clothing mean to you?

For us, sustainable clothing means that consideration has gone into each and every stage of the garment process, from the growth of the raw material right through to the finished product. However, without high levels of exposure or education in the marketplace, people don't know enough about ethical and sustainable practices and therefore cannot ask the right questions or make educated choices. Not all supply chains are perfect, which is why we use the word 'consideration' rather than stating a perfect process has been implemented at every stage, the fact that brands and manufacturers strive to make a difference will hopefully result in real differences both big and small and for the long term.

You're one of the premier organic outfitters in the UAE, why did you decide to focus your attention on bio-clothing?

Focusing on materials that have a really strong ethical, environmental and 'on the ground impact' for the people who work in the garment industry was not really a conscious choice, but more a natural and instinctive one. We are all from different parts of the world, with different upbringings, cultures and a unique way of life, our common thread is our outlook on the world and the way it should be - giving back, gratitude, helping others, harmony and of course karma...that nobody wants to upset :)

Can you explain the life cycle of one of your products? How is a piece of BaemBu clothing designed, sourced and manufactured?

The life cycle of our products (which now extends to the classic Hoodies released in time for Market OTB) starts with the raw material. For our classic T-Shirts, the main raw material is bamboo, grown in the main province of China of Sichuan that does so predominantly for the materials market. With bamboo, there is no need for fertilisers and no need for pesticides due to its tough natural properties, it can grow anywhere in the world except Antarctica (but what else does?!), it is fully matured in 5-7 years and is anti-bacterial (which actually transfers across into the fibres of the T-Shirts!)

Manufacturing is done in Turkey. Turkey has a great textiles industry with a rich history and fantastic expertise, but importantly for us, our factory has processes and ethical practices in place that have achieved international accreditations relating to the workers, their conditions and importantly, their living wages. Fair Wear Foundation, Positive Earth, Confidence in Textiles and Soil Association are the accreditations that are carried by all Baembu products.

Our design ethos is to put the product first and brand second. We believe in preserving the product more than creating brand hype. Minimal, subtle and tasteful are our principles for placement and styling.

Why do you think high-street fashion has been so slow to integrate eco-fashion into their collections?

Quite simply, money. Less margin, less room to squeeze the producers, manufacturers and more competition from other retailers means that it is not in the interest of ' "big business" to integrate or focus on ecological and ethical impact, but it is a testament to the power of education, enlightenment and awareness that's forcing them to at least consider change, however small their contribution is.

Talking fast fashion; they can't continue to focus purely on price and driving down the monetary cost of the goods without any thought for the single most important consideration of all - the human cost. The quality of the raw materials, the time invested, the wages, the working conditions, etc. are all areas that require a higher level of cost, however, this is often at little impact to the end consumer and the selling price point. It's the 'big business' that makes less money and that's something they and their stakeholders will not settle for.

 How would you change the fashion industry for the better?

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