Eco-conscious Malaysian brands are turning leftovers into fashionable treasure

Upcycling allows for consumers to "rescue" waste, which are transformed into statement fashion items. Photo: Fugeelah

One person's trash is another's treasure. So goes the idiom. It is also a welcome fact, looking at the popular trend of upcycling.

This is gaining ground in Malaysia, whereby numerous brands have released fashion collections derived from discarded leftovers.

Fugeelah, a local social enterprise created for children and youth, recently released a limited edition range of bags. Each design is made from fabrics that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Read more: Why sustainability has become fashion's biggest trend

The initiative is a partnership with couturier Khoon Hooi. Its aim is to encourage people to make meaningful choices with their purchases – or as Fugeelah puts it,"to make them count, to make them matter, to make a change."

After covering costs, the collaboration commits 100% of its profits towards paying for IGCSE examinations for students at Fugee School, a not-for-profit organisation that provides free education and community support to those in transit.

In the past, other brands have also worked to spread the message of fashionable upcycling. Biji Biji for example, adheres to sustainable and ethical standards in fashion.

"We are committed to pushing the boundaries and curate change in the fashion industry by transforming the alternative into the norm with our handmade fashion accessories and apparels," reads the statement on its website.

Read more: Surprise! These chic and gorgeous swimwear are also eco-friendly

Some of the materials used by Biji Biji include seat belt webbings, vintage kimonos, tarpaulin banners and needle punch carpets. All these are transformed into creatively beautiful clutches, ties, wallets, shawls and more.

Wan's Handmade takes the idea of upcycling even further. This brand uses food packaging from iconic names such as Gardenia and Hup Seng to make bags. Yes, you read that right.

The whimsical designs range from fanny packs to messenger bags. The designer who is based in Johor, has long experimented with creating items using plastic packaging.

According to Wan's Handmade Instagram page, all of the latest bags are part of the Plastic Reborn Project, an initiative to recycle plastic bags into useful items.

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