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By: Susanah Cheok
SINGAPORE – A predilection for vintage styles initiated Tracy Phillips into the world of sustainable fashion. Admittedly, as a teenager, she loved and bought vintage because she liked the looks of eras past, and because she could afford them, not because she wanted to be green or practise circular fashion. Inevitably though, those early years of buying vintage eventually sharpened in her a keen sense for living a sustainable lifestyle.
Says the director of PPURPOSE, a company that creates culturally-evolved programming for brands, spaces, and people through cause marketing, social outreach and content curation, “I’ve loved vintage and shopped second-hand since my teens, though honestly, it was less about sustainability then and more because I just love styles from past eras and it was what I could afford. But that induction into fashion meant that I’ve never needed things to be brand new to appreciate them and it’s an ethos that’s stayed with me till today.”
Altruistic Personal Style
In true granular style, Tracy describes herself as “a human who hopes her being and actions can bring joy and comfort.” Little wonder, this lover of Creation has grown to not only embrace, but become known for, her Mother Earth-caring personal style, which by the way she humbly describes as “colourful and care-free”, but that her followers will define as elevated contemporary-vintage. Tracy is proof that if you have a creative mindset and are motivated by kindness for the world, dressing in vintage and pre-loved, sustainably in other words, can be modern and relevant.
Vintage: Accessible, Authentic
Tracy, like many advocates of circular fashion, who believe you can find almost any sort of fashion item and accessories from reputable stores that sell the real stuff in the style you want, walks the talk. And she’s amazed at how accessible many of these vintage pieces are these days. With sustainability becoming even more fundamental, the good news is that vintage has also become more mainstream.
Says Tracy, “It’s great that now, not just vintage, but even pre-loved from fairly recent seasons are so accessible through online retailers like Fifth Collection, Style Tribute, The Real Deal, the list goes on. Recently, Nana and Bird, a local brick and mortar concept store introduced a pre-loved designer selection called Relove, so I’m glad it’s a trend that’s still growing."
It’s incredibly important for brands to produce sustainably, whether in terms of their methods or choice of materials.
With the fashion industry emitting more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined, and producing 10 per cent of all humanity's carbon emissions, there is certainly a dire need like never before, for more people to practise conscious fashion consumption. As the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, the fashion industry is also infamous for polluting the ocean with microplastics.
That’s why Tracy, a green guardian, would like to see more people embrace pre-loved fashion, buy second-hand, and even practise fashion exchanges – a sort of fashion stewardship, a cool handover and passing on of still-good items – instead of accumulating thoughtlessly and insatiably.
She says, “It’s incredibly important for brands to produce sustainably, whether in terms of their methods or choice of materials. I think people are a lot more aware of how fashion is one of the biggest contributors to pollution and wastage, so working sustainability into the business model is a must, and frankly should be for every other business too. There is only one planet we call home. Whether it’s lessening wastage, or using more sustainable fabrics, or making things to last, there are many ways brands can do better.”
A Peek Into Her Wardrobe
Tracy sticks strictly by a few efficient eco habits, which are easy to practise and also effective, clever buying methods that everyone can adopt.
“I only buy things I know I will wear and can last at least 30 years or more. I look at vintage and pre-loved options first. I try to support independent designers and local businesses who are making in smaller quantities,” says the always-chic brand-preneur, who wants to make a real difference while looking well put together.
She also favours “local thoughtful designers like Ong Shunmugam, Minor Miracles and Rye, vintage stores like A Vintage Tale, in addition to the pre-loved retailers I mentioned above, and when I travel, I shop at independent designers and vintage stores.”
If we peeked into her timeless, eclectic wardrobe, what would we find that’s sustainable fashion?
“My collection of vintage clothes, separates, as well as one-pieces, accessories like belts, necklaces, earrings; also pre-loved items from Style Tribute and Fifth Collection. I’m also consciously on the lookout for traditional craft items like bags, hats that are cottage industry-made.”