#supportlocal with Alt.native — Earth Month Special

#supportlocal with Alt.native — Earth Month Special


We hope you enjoyed our previous piece on how to build a more sustainable wardrobe~~ In this Earth Month 🌎 edition of #supportlocal, we are going to explore a fifth tip… Refashioning! Let’s welcome Amanda, the lovely founder of Alt.native! Read on to find out how she chases her passion for sustainable fashion!


Alt.native is a small business which connects people who want to refashion their items, with experienced refashioners! Refashioning is a form of upcycling which transforms preloved clothing into something new and wanted, and some services provided by Alt.native’s refashioners include making patchwork tops, two-piece sets, tote bags and more. It’s even possible to make tops from socks omg 😲😲 Simply fill in an application form and Alt.native will get you started! Check out their homepage here ✂️🧵


Source: Alt.native

Alt.native also occasionally holds workshops to teach people basic garment repair and reworking skills!

How did you get into refashioning?

My team (3 other people) and I started it as a school project! While I was on an exchange programme in Beijing, we were walking on the streets and we noticed so much fashion waste. My team and I started to research fast fashion, as we saw up close how prevalent fast fashion was in Beijing, with clothes that were only $5 SGD a piece. We realised that it’s not just a problem in Beijing or Singapore, but a worldwide one! 


Source: Tzu Chi Singapore

As we realised the huge impact fashion waste has on the environment, we started Alt.native in 2021, to advocate circular fashion, extend the lifespan of clothes and reduce the rate of clothes entering landfills.

What is your favourite part about running your business? And the challenges?

Favourite would definitely be speaking to customers. I have to speak closely with customers when they send in their refashioning requests so I can match them with a suitable refashioner, and it’s always a meaningful and personal process. Customers often have interesting and touching stories, like one of my customers who wanted to upcycle her ah-ma’s old shirt after her ah-ma passed on. It’s always very heartening to hear the customer’s point of view on how refashioning has helped them, and I’m so grateful for their support for Alt.native too! 

Some of the biggest challenges about running a sustainable business in Singapore are that firstly, even though there’s more traction on sustainability in fashion in Singapore in recent months, there’s still a lack of awareness in upcycling clothes and prolonging the lifespan of clothes in the general public. No one really sees the problem of fashion waste as the impact is not that apparent to their lives. 

Another challenge is that most of the time, consumers underestimate the amount of work/labour hours needed to transform one clothing item into another clothing item. For example, there was a customer who wanted to transform her shirt into a shirt dress. It sounded like an easy task, as the ideal shirt dress the customer wanted had a similar silhouette to the shirt, but it requires a deconstruction of the shirt, an inclusion of collars and buttons to transform the original shirt into the consumer’s desired shirt dress. I hope that this problem can also be bridged through conducting our upcycling workshops, where consumers can experience first-hand the amount of time needed to upcycle their own clothes, and through other educational workshops too, where we can share the experiences of our refashioners.

Where do you see the sustainable fashion scene in SG in the next 5 years?

It’s definitely on the rise, there’s been a surge of videos on upcycling or thrifting on social media, and it's heartening to see that many young people are trying to find ways on being more sustainable. More people see the appeal of getting more wears out of a piece of clothing or even upcycling it, because it is more economical. This definitely helps build demand for the upcycling market.

A picture taken at the recent REFASH x Alt.native Upcycling Workshop

Many individuals and groups have started meaningful projects and initiatives. I want to be very optimistic! I hope there will be more education efforts so that people really see the need to move towards sustainable fashion. 

Any tips for someone starting their Refashioning journey?

We all have to start somewhere! I was a noob once too, I didn’t know how to sew at all when I first started Alt.native. But I slowly picked it up. You can start with simple alterations like cropping or making things tighter since it’s easier to learn. For more complex things you can look up free sewing patterns online, or join workshops! Alt.native often holds workshops for example! When I first started out, I took a workshop held by TaF.tc which was very useful! 

Anyone in the sustainable fashion/sustainability scene you would like to shoutout?

OH, so many! 😁 The sustainable fashion scene in Singapore is quite close-knit. I think Cloop and ZERRIN! When I was first starting out, Yin and Jasmine from Cloop, and Susannah from ZERRIN were very sweet and answered a lot of my questions! Cloop has an upcoming clothing swap event coming up, and ZERRIN has an Earth Month pop up right now. You guys should check it out!

That’s all for the interview! Amanda was wonderful, and she had lots to say. Click here to find out more about Alt.native, and how you can help make fashion more circular and sustainable! 👕🧵

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