Socially responsible fashion is the right way forward here in Malaysia


Aeon is trying to actively redefine the landscape of fashion by placing emphasis on diversity, inclusivity and sustainability. Photo: Aeon

The fashion world is paying close attention to issues such as diversity, inclusivity and sustainability. Brands are also recognising the need to do better in running their businesses.

In Malaysia, a good start is to embrace the country’s multiculturalism.

“We believe that fashion should be a platform for self- expression for everyone, regardless of their background,” says Aeon Malaysia’s chief merchandise and marketing officer, Low Ngai Yuen.

She adds that the department store actively collaborates with designers from diverse backgrounds to ensure its collections reflect the richness of Malaysia’s cultural tapestry.

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It is also committed to promoting diversity by featuring a wide range of styles that cater to various preferences and age. These are available across all sizes and prices.

On the sustainability front, Aeon is firmly committed to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 8 (promoting decent work and economic growth for all) and 15 (protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems).

Low explains that in-store fashion collections, such as Innercasual, Topvalu and more, incorporate sustainable and durable materials. Aeon also actively supports ethical production processes that start from responsible sourcing.

Aeon Malaysia’s chief merchandise and marketing officer, Low Ngai Yuen believes fostering a socially responsible fashion community is a collective effort.Aeon Malaysia’s chief merchandise and marketing officer, Low Ngai Yuen believes fostering a socially responsible fashion community is a collective effort.

“Additionally, we are also working with our suppliers and manufacturers to consider the impact of sourcing decisions and practices plus participating actively in external assessments to transparent and good processes.”

Such efforts are in line with consumer habits in Malaysia.

Low reveals that data on Aeon’s shoppers show an increase in awareness regarding sustainability, inclusivity, and diversity. She says people are becoming mindful of the impact of their purchases.

“A significant portion of our customer base actively seeks out products that align with these values. We’ve observed an increased interest in eco-friendly and socially responsible fashion choices.”

Low stresses that it is not just about meeting the expectations of customers.

“Our intention is to simply strive to do things right with comprehensive initiatives that address these issues holistically,” she points out.

On the matter of “greenwashing”, where a company uses sustainable products as a marketing spin, Low applauds those who are not so easily taken in by disingenuous efforts.

“At Aeon, we set realistic goals and are committed to transparency in our practices. We ensure that our sustainability initiatives are backed by evidence to support our claims with how our concrete actions are delivering the kind of measurable results.”

She believes there is progress in the Malaysian fashion scene when it comes to social responsibility, but much more can be done.

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Aeon, for example, will be intensifying efforts in 2024 to invest in research and development for functional eco-friendly materials. The company is also exploring innovative ways to reduce its environmental impact.

However, everyone should do their part – both fashion retailers and consumers.

“For me, sustainability, inclusivity, and diversity can only thrive as a collective endeavour – this needs to be a shared responsibility to foster a more equitable and environmentally conscious future,” Low says.

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