(Un)waste As A Sustainable Form

PHILIPPINES | FASHION

Reading time : 5 minutes

Photographs by Wilmark Jolindon
Words by Girard Bonotan

Published on March 19, 2021

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As the call for sustainable fashion gains traction, brands such as müü.haa have taken creative steps to realise a seemingly abstract idea to reality through a collection that is mature in approach but youthful in expression.

The demand for the fashion industry to commit more to sustainability has become only louder the past few years. It is after all one of the most wasteful industries. Its carbon emissions account for 10 per cent of the global figure, surpassing the energy consumption of both aviation and shipping combined. Second only to oil, it is the largest polluter in the world through the pesticides used in cotton farming and toxic dyes in manufacturing. Clothing manufacturers recycle only 5 per cent of reusable textiles. It is indeed timely for players in the industry to rethink their production models.

Taking a paradigm shift in their practices is müü.haa. The Manila-based label has prioritised reducing the amount of fabric they dispose during production. “Our take on sustainability does not necessarily depend on the materials we use but more on the process of putting our clothes together and how we reuse what are normally considered as waste textiles into something functional,” say founders Abraham Guardian and Mamuro Oki.

“Creating clothes in a slower process — a system you can closely monitor so you will also be aware of how much leftovers you get after each production,” they note. “Then a room to use these wastes to create something new again.”

müü.haa’s view of sustainability is effulgently demonstrated in their Spring Summer 2021 collection, which is a playful reinterpretation of the all-too familiar school uniform, every student wears in their youth. The designers deliberately minimise wastage from producing this season’s offering. “The leftover fabrics have been used to create some of the more experimental pieces in this collection as well as the brand’s signature bucket hats,” they elucidate. The ethos of sustainability is woven into the idea behind the uniform-like qualities of the pieces. They are meant to seamlessly integrate into existing pieces found in one’s closet. 

müü.haa’s approach to uniforms is exciting and iconoclastic. The shirts, while seemingly alluding to one’s standard school wear, are filled with whimsical lines reminiscent of the doodles made on the margins of books. Or take for example the stiff, pinstriped skirts and trousers. müü.haa has deconstructed and mixed these with other materials to highlight youthful irreverence. “The pieces were designed and constructed to make sure that the wearer would feel stylish, fashion-forward, and comfortable at the same time. The brand celebrates versatility in all aspects and forms,” share Guardian and Oki.

The label is a portmanteau of its founders’ nicknames: Mamu and Ham. müü.haa is in fact a diffusion line of HA.MÜ, the brand they presented in 2017 as a graduate collection at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. müü.haa is supported by the Benilde Hub of Innovation for Inclusion.

“The youth of today and our youthful days were some of the main inspirations behind the brand. The simple idea of wanting ‘uniform’ pieces since we all grew getting accustomed to wearing school uniforms has become a common experience for everyone. Combining the ideas of how we wear our clothes today and also the concept of uniforms drove the brand’s identity to shine,” they explain. The founders of müü.haa envision new colourways, similar designs from the first collection, and expanding their products as part of their long-term plans.

Guardian and Oki regard the future of fashion as one that is conscious. There are already indications that the pandemic has nudged the things consumers value in the companies they support: a preference for those who address environmental and social issues. This clearly shows that müü.haa is in step with the zeitgeist.

Art Direction: Jobo Nacpil
Hair and Makeup: Aria Ortega
Worn by: Eron Sagun and Imma Colarina
Designers: Abraham Guardian and Mamuro Oki

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