For this week’s edition of ‘8Shades Of’, we’re chatting with Natalie Chow, co-founder of homegrown eco-fashion brand KIBO. KIBO designs and makes stylish sustainable sneakers from discarded materials that would otherwise end up in landfill – and they’ve recently added biodegradable sunglasses, created in collaboration with influencer Utah Lee, to their feel good line-up of eco-chic accessories.
We chat to Natalie about her best eco habits, what inspired Kibo’s sustainable approach and why it’s okay not to be perfect.
1. In one sentence, tell us what you do?
We craft sustainable sneakers – and now, eyewear too! – using upcycled materials from factory floors that would otherwise end up in our landfills. We want to make sustainability fun, cool and accessible!
2. Why are you an 8Shader?
With a family background in manufacturing, we saw first-hand how much waste comes from the fashion industry – through overproduction, overconsumption and every process along the way, such as the treatment of water. We wanted to make our products differently; from sourcing materials to the production line, we’ve ensured that it’s all as transparent and clean as possible.
Beyond eco-friendly materials, we also advocate ethical practices and give back to organisations that fight against human-trafficking; believe it or not, it’s the third largest crime and the fashion industry is a big culprit. With a cleaner production line and greater transparency, we want to educate customers to choose mindfully and consciously.
3. What’s your best eco habit – and your guilty not-so green one?
My best eco habit is that I follow a plant-based diet – and I don’t miss eating meat at all! As for a not-so-green one, I don’t use enough natural cleaning products at home and often opt for convenient commercial options from stores… I should look more into DIY remedies!
4. Fave eco brand?
Floristics Co – I love fresh flowers and it can be hard to find beautiful bouquets locally. I love how they source locally and use minimal packaging.
5. Fave veggie dish in Hong Kong?
The baked cauliflower at Veda – it’s impossible to replicate at home!
6. What are the most challenging aspects of developing an eco-conscious fashion line?
Meeting quantities and keeping it accessible, while also paying our workers fairly. It’s difficult to buy good quality, sustainable materials at a reasonable price. Factories are used to large quantities and often prioritise big brands over ours, which makes our production schedule difficult to predict and manage.
7. What is one thing about sustainable fashion that you think more people should be aware of?
That sustainable fashion doesn’t HAVE to be expensive. If it can scale, it will get cheaper and more accessible – we just need to up the ratio of sustainable products.
We’ve also learned that it’s ok to not be perfect. Being a perfectly sustainable brand takes an enormous amount of time and effort – it’s a journey. So as long as the heart of the brand is true, every little change towards sustainable fashion should be celebrated!
8. What shade of green are you and why?
Mint green – because there’s just so much to learn! Plus, it’s a pretty and refreshing colour that just makes you smile.
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See also: 8Shades Of… Xavier Tsang of BeCandle