Sustainable fashion comes in various forms, one of that is a fashion brand from Malaysia called Biji biji that uses materials from recycled waste. According to expert Dr. Anna Brismar from the Swedish consulting company Green Strategy, the ideal clothing must be made to order, with a timeless and high-quality design that can be used for a long time and can be repaired if necessary. Products that you no longer want must be donated or recycled. If someone wants to buy something new, it is important to prioritize items that are made ethically and environmentally friendly.
In Malaysia, Fashion Ethics named Biji Biji is one of the practitioners of sustainable fashion. It is a subsidiary of Biji Biji Initiative – a member of the World Fair Trade Organization. The company only uses materials from existing waste. One of their best-known products is a bag from a seat belt. The material is leftover fabrics which are considered not good enough to be used as part of life-saving equipment in vehicles from factories. The company also uses unused floor coverings and excess fabric from local factories.
Biji biji and challenges in Using Waste
Materials that are leftover from the industry that they cannot choose, for example, seat belts, they do not have control over the color, amount or when the material is available, explains one of the founders, Norashahera Mertens. “So we found a way to overcome this challenge and the result is a unique product and in limited quantities. Black seat belts are the most difficult to come by and sometimes we get colors like neon green. ”
The company has worked with the Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching for the past five years. The festival has a lot of banners and when the event is over, they send it to us and we turn it into something like a tote bag. This is used as a gift for VIPs at the festival next year, “Norashahera said.
Vintage Fabrics and Biji biji
Meanwhile, one of the most valuable waste materials is vintage kimono fabric. This is 100 percent high-quality silk or cotton with a classic Japanese theme. Some patterns are very detailed and complicated, using Japanese shibori or tie-dye techniques. Kazuno Nakajima, the owner of Nakakoma Orimono, chose to work together because many people wanted these items. Even museums in Japan want it because of its historical value and very high quality. The cloth has been changed into a bag with a cloth seat belt since 2017 which is a blend of traditional and modern.
At present, Biji biji focuses on the source of waste material that can be turned into something useful and beautiful. No longer have an in-house designer but they move to become a platform for local talents to use inventory the way they want. The company is also trying to deal with waste in factories because factories often deal with mass supplies and not all of them are used.
In time, the surplus will end up in landfills, especially when some factories have restrictions on what they can do with the material. This includes a locally based French company that makes rock climbing. It has the overstock of material such as thick ribbons that cannot be sold locally so that Biji biji must ask for an exception from the Customs Department for the permission to enter the country.
Meanwhile, fashion designers usually start with sketches. They draw the clothes that they have in mind and find a piece of fabric that fits the design, then cut and sew to make finished goods. Biji biji is one example of a brand that upholds the ethical mission and cares for the environment in every design they make.