Here at 8Shades, we believe that nothing is more stylish than sustainability – and that’s exactly the ethos that lies behind Hong Kong eco-conscious fashion brand, Tove & Libra.
Built on three generations of garment manufacturing expertise, this homegrown clothing label has sustainability at the heart of all its designs – upcycling deadstock materials, utilising pioneering sustainable fabrics and concentrating on ethical sourcing and production every step of the way.
For our latest ‘8Shades Of’ feature, we spoke to Tove & Libra’s founders Christine Chow and Ivan Tang to find out their tips for maintaining a sustainable wardrobe, favourite local eco brands and innovative ways of reducing waste in their business.
1. In one sentence, tell us what you do?
Christine: Leveraging three generations of production experience, our contemporary womenswear brand proves fashion can be good for both your closet and our planet.
2. Why are you an 8Shader?
Ivan: My parents always taught me not to be wasteful and as I got older and understood the world better, those lessons resonated even more. I think it’s important to be grateful for what the natural world offers us, to respect it in return and to leave it in a better place after we are gone; Tove & Libra is one way I can do the latter.
3. What’s your best eco habit – and your guilty not-so green one?
C: I’ve reduced the use of plastics in our household, from eliminating cling film to using soap bars instead of shower gel… But I cannot contemplate living without Ziploc bags!
I: We live in a world of excess where the message is “we need more”, when the reality is that we don’t really need more – so my best eco habit is restrained consumption of most material things. My not-so green habit that makes me consciously guilty is still buying the occasional plastic-bottled drink from convenience stores.
4. Fave eco products?
C: Besides supporting eco, I’m also a big supporter of supporting local – so we feature many local and sustainable products that I personally love in our own boutiques, including Kibo shoes, Sachelle Collective jewellery and Savasana candles.
We also carry some “upcycled” ceramics in our PMQ shop, which are rejects (usually due to small visual defects) from a premium Japanese factory; I’ve nabbed several plates and bowls for my own home because I love their unique beauty and story. Did you know that ceramics can take thousands of years to decompose, which is why they’re such valuable archaeological artefacts? I’m as careful about using ceramics as plastics these days!
5. Fave veggie dishes in Hong Kong?
I: My current favourite office lunch order is the kale Caesar salad from Le Pain Quotidien.
6. In what ways do you incorporate sustainability into Tove & Libra? Are there any further sustainability initiatives you’re hoping to introduce in the future?
C: We upcycle deadstock fabrics from our own factories, which are leftovers from our manufacturing customers. In fact, we have so much leftover material that we’ve also launched a programme called Upcrafted, which encourages customers and other small businesses to make use of our deadstock fabrics and yarns for their own purposes. We have a selection of deadstock materials at our PMQ shop for purchase, and 100 per cent of the proceeds goes towards Crossroads Foundation.
Last year, we were also excited to launch our Tomorrow capsule collection with Kay Wong from Fashion Clinic. We took some unsold items and redesigned them – either by adding embroidery or in one case, turning a dress into a top and skirt.
We wanted to find an innovative workaround to simply putting unsold items on deeper and deeper sale, which devalues clothing in general; it also explored a way to work with not just deadstock fabrics, but deadstock garments. It was such a fun project and is definitely something that we’ll continue looking into!
We’re always keeping an eye out for operational alternatives that could help us be more sustainable too, but the market is still at the stage where you have to hunt for those options. Our garment pouches and mailers are made of recycled plastic and designed to be re-usable, and we’re currently exploring more sustainable delivery options than the standard courier services.
7. What are some simple tips for having a more sustainable wardrobe?
C: One reason we put a lot of effort into our fits is because personally, I’ve found that the more something looks and feels good on me, the more I’ll wear it. This may seem obvious, but I think all of us have been tantalised by items that are beautiful, exclusive or just a little too tight – and those are the pieces that wind up sitting at the back of your closet!
There’s a lot of talk about avoiding trend-driven clothes but not enough focus on the flipside – which is finding clothes that are right for you, your body and your personal style.
8. What shade of green are you and why?
C: I love blue-green hues like the colour of amazonite – it’s calming yet complex, and so connected to nature.
NEXT: See all ‘8Shades Of‘ interviews
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