6 sustainable Shanghai fashion brands you need to know

Break up with fast fashion and shop guilt-free with these designers building their brands around sustainability

Photograph: courtesy UseDem

Ready to be a conscious consumer? Shanghai has plenty of designers and creatives offering unique, eco-friendly garms. Doing everything from denim upcycling to crafting plastic ocean waste bikinis to shark conservation, meet six local designers and brands who are the fabricators of a new normal, inspired to do their bit for the environment.

Photograph: courtesy Red Rooster


Sherry Poon’s recipe for creating her line of children’s wear calls for three basic ingredients: 100 percent organic cotton, quality and safety. Founded in 2008 as something of a passion project, the idea for Wobabybasics was prompted by the former sustainable architect’s struggle to source organic baby clothes in Shanghai – after trying to treat her daughter’s eczema, Poon's research revealed the toxic materials in conventional cotton irritate the skin.

‘Children’s skin is constantly in contact with their clothes, 24 hours a day, so comfort and quality are key,’ Poon explains, which is Wobabybasics uses only Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton. ‘I track every step of the process, from the seed to the yarn, to the finished product. It’s certified at all stages.’

Find Wobabybasics at Madame Mao's Dowry or visit wobabybasics.com.

Photograph: courtesy Alicia Shi


It can be hard to let go of scuffed and faded clothes – particularly well-loved jeans. That's where the first China-based denim upcycling project UseDem comes in. Founded in 2015 by fashion designer Xenia Sidorenko, the project was inspired after her factory visits around China revealed an unsustainable, mass-production of denim.

An essential in most wardrobes, Sidorenko laughs while pointing out, 'Jeans are the most wearable item we own, perhaps just after underwear… I recently read a study revealing that on average we wear jeans at least three days per week.' However, their production is hugely water-intensive. From 'dying to washing and bleaching, in total 11,000 litres of water is used – for just one pair,' she continues. By sending old jeans to UseDem, they can be transformed (by hand) into custom-made bags or accessories without the waste. UseDem also host workshops where like-minded people can meet and get hands-on with their old denim.

Search for WeChat store 'UseDem' or follow the official ‘UseDem’ WeChat account

In Sharks We Trust
Photography: Justin Phang courtesy In Sharks We Trust 

In Sharks We Trust

Miao Wang is reinventing shark conservation one bikini at a time through her eco-friendly swimwear brand. As a diver, Wang saw the devastating impact of illegal shark fishing and global warming on our oceans. Driven by the overwhelming ‘power and vulnerability in nature’, as she describes it, she founded In Sharks We Trust, for which every piece is created from reclaimed fishnets and 100 percent of the profits are dedicated to shark conservation.

Alongside her designs, Wang raises awareness in Shanghai by hosting documentary screenings, holding ocean and shark conservation talks and running fashion activism projects. 

Reminiscing about a recent campaign, Wang laughs while describing a close encounter at a shoot in the biggest seafood market in Shanghai. ‘After nearly getting arrested twice and fighting off strange looks, my models marched through a market of dead fish wearing their whale shark costumes.’ Through bold campaigns like this, Wang wants the world to see that ‘China is not one dimensional – there are groups of individuals creating change in innovative ways.'

Visit insharkswetrust.com or follow 'insharkswetrust' on WeChat. 

Loop Swim
Photograph: courtesy Loop Swim

Loop Swim

When Loop Swim designers Itee Soni and Heather Kaye met in Shanghai in 2008, they discovered a mutual interest in reforming the fashion industry. Both disillusioned with ‘large international fashion companies who don’t see how their decisions play out in factories’ they decided to turn plastic ocean waste into swimwear chic.

‘We decided on swimwear because it was a perfect canvas. We focused on sustainable materials, timeless designs and bold prints,’ says Kaye sitting in their peaceful Xuhui studio. A big part of the brand mission is to ‘give [customers] a great design alternative that will last a long time.’ Every piece is made from recycled PET (plastic bottles) – the perfect resource in Shanghai, ‘with such a high capture rate of bottles, most of them are sourced locally,’ she continues.

As for what next? They ‘hope to have all swimwear brands commit to being sustainable by 2025… There’s no excuse. It’s accessible, affordable and workable.’

Visit loopswim.com or follow ‘LoopSwim’ on WeChat.

Photography: courtesy Zurita 


Monica Muriel began her Shanghai journey twelve years ago, initially working in business and investment. Her passion for creating sustainable fashion was fired by a desire to do something she 'truly loves', resulting in the creation of her brand, Zurita – a collection of eco-friendly clothes designed for professional women, made only from natural fabrics and fibres. Chatting from her shop in the Kerry Parkside Mall, Muriel speaks with knowledge and passion about her journey in the industry. 'At that time [2015] there were no big sustainable players in the game, nobody I wanted to work for, so I made my own brand.'

Muriel stresses that sustainability is about 'being responsible, which includes logistics – often the most wasteful part of the system.' Listing a few of the initiatives Zurita has in place to help the environment, Muriel notes how they have 'reusable delivery boxes, hold three times less stock than a normal retailer and offer a free fixing service for damaged clothes.' She also continues to push boundaries by 'reporting consciously on everything including wages, waste and water.' Working in small capsules, every month Zurita offers new designs to 'keep expanding, keep costs low and provide customers with classic designs.'

Visit Zurita's Kerry Parkside boutique or follow 'zurita_design' on WeChat. 

Photograph: courtesy ICICLE


Around since 1997, high-end natural clothing brand ICICLE is amongst the forerunners of sustainable fashion in Shanghai and globally with 290 stores worldwide. The label’s ‘vertical supply chain covers design, manufacturing and logistics,’ and the clean designs – created under the philosophy ‘MADE IN EARTH’ – celebrate nature and the simplicity of top-quality natural fabrics.

When it comes to brand principles, brand spokesperson Yaqun Hao notes how ‘ICICLE has been deeply inspired by the traditional Chinese philosophy of the harmony between man and nature, a wisdom that has sustained the Chinese way of living and thinking for thousands of years.’ Most important to the group when creating clothes is ‘to respect nature, be kind to others and cherish what is given to us.’ As the team look to the future, they believe they ‘must responsibly lead the way in fashion for generations to come.’

Visit the ICICLE Flagship Store on Nanjing Dong Lu (multiple locations) or shop online at icicle.com.cn/en.

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