MANIFESTO Digital Zine

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Fashion provides dignified work, from conception to creation to catwalk. It does not enslave, endanger, exploit, overwork, harass, abuse or discriminate against anyone. Fashion liberates worker and wearer and empowers everyone to stand up for their rights.


Fashion provides fair and equal pay. It enriches the livelihood of everyone working across the industry, from farm to shop floor. Fashion lifts people out of poverty, creates thriving societies and fulfils aspiration.


Fashion gives people a voice, making it possible to speak up without fear, join together in unity without repression and negotiate for better conditions at work and across communities.


Fashion respects culture and heritage. It fosters, celebrates and rewards skills and craftsmanship. It recognises creativity as its strongest asset. Fashion never appropriates without giving due credit or steals without permission. Fashion honours the artisan.


Fashion stands for solidarity, inclusiveness and democracy, regardless of race, class, gender, age, shape or ability. It champions diversity as crucial for success.



Fashion conserves and restores the environment. It does not deplete precious resources, degrade our soil, pollute our air and water or harm our health. Fashion protects the welface of all living things and safeguards our diverse ecosystems.


Fashion never unnecessarily destroys or discards but mindfully redesigns and recuperates in a circular way. Fashion is repaired, reused, recycled and upcycled. Our wardrobes and landfills do not overflow with clothes that are coveted but not cherished, bought but not kept.


Fashion is transparent and accountable. Fashion embraces clarity and does not hide behind complexity nor rely upon trade secrets to derive value. Anyone, anywhere can find out how, where, by whom and under what conditions their clothing is made.



Fashion measures success by more than just sales and profits. Fashion conserves and restores the environment and values people for growth and profit.

Fashion lives to express, delight, reflect, protest, comfort, commiserate and share. Fashion never subjugates, denigrates, degrades, marginalises or compromises. Fashion celebrates life.






















A funded project for Fashion Revolution Week 2023, MANIFESTO responds to Manifesto for a Fashion Revolution, a 10-point manifesto created in 2018 by Fashion Revolution. The Manifesto solidifies our vision for a global fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit. Over 14,500 people around the world have signed their name in support of turning this vision into a reality. This zine is an open invitation for you to join us.

MANIFESTO is a project conceived out of a love for fashion. This love, easy on some days and elusive on others, birthed thoughtful and fervent observations of the fashion system. Here, you find ten stories of loved clothes, old clothes, new clothes, clothes as means to raise funds for mutual aid, clothes as mass manufactured products, and non-clothes that exist as artistic interpretations of material and tools for storytelling.

MANIFESTO features stories and interpretations of fashion that are atypical on mainstream fashion media platforms. These stories deviate from the conventional ways of perceiving fashion as hype or trendy must-haves; exploring instead how fashion is intertwined and interconnected with the planet and all human and non-human lives. In Beyond Bindis & Binaries, Aditi Shivaramakrishnan looks at the intricate relationship between her shifting identities and her loved fashion objects. Through her documentation, fashion is a vehicle of exploration, expression, and way-finding through this world. Junk Joy, a collaborative response from Adel Ng and Hazeerah Basri, adopts mediums of AI art and hand-woven sculptures to imagine new forms of healing and being.

We cannot speak about fashion’s exploitation without looking at fashion’s capitalistic and hierarchical structures. Tegan Smyth’s crochet poem, I’ll Make It Myself, presents a form of quiet resistance to the hyper-acceleration workings of fashion. In ADD TO BAG, Rachel of Waychel Photography breaks down the mystification of (fast) fashion production through a series of augmented photos. By superimposing e-commerce shots on top of photos from the factory floor, she narrows the cognitive distance between e-commerce marketing and motivated consumerism. Reality TV Killed the Fashion Star takes a different approach by putting a satirical spin on reality shows and fashion design competitions, questioning how much fashion media platforms have done to challenge the portrayal of normative industry narratives.

Industrial fashion feeds on the scarcity mindset to motivate consumption and production. When ideating for MANIFESTO, we had in mind to highlight alternative fashion economies/ecosystems built on concepts of abundance. One of such is solidariTHRIFT, a collective that organises pop-up thrift markets to raise funds for mutual aid. In a series of illustrations by irie aman on the making of the thrift market, they celebrate the joys of buying second-hand and patronage as a means of solidarity.

MANIFESTO does not attempt to address all of fashion’s systemic and structural problems. It is a collection of personal responses that tell the desire, protest, resistance, and everything in between of our inextricable relationship with the fashion industry. In our final feature, Esther Koh offers a reframing of ourselves as “desiring subjects” through personal recollections of “shopping” small. Small is beautiful. MANIFESTO dreams of a culture where desire is not to fulfil lack but small, human ways of yearning and engaging with the self and the world.

I hope you find commiseration, joy, and hope in these stories, and may we all be Fashion Revolutionaries in our ways. If you resonate with MANIFESTO, share it with your networks and communities.

May we always listen to the rebel in us—no matter how small they seem. Sign Manifesto for a Fashion Revolution here.

It is now widely known that the Chinese fast fashion behemoth SHEIN is entangled in many labour and sustainability issues. As Swiss watchdog group Public Eye reports, its subcontractors underpay and overwork migrant workers. TIME Magazine also highlights that the volume and price at which clothes are sold makes it impossible for them to be sustainably or ethically made. Coverage of these issues is widespread, but the distance makes it easy to mentally pigeonhole the news into the realm of politics, separate from the realm of everyday wearables. Everyone knows, but still buys.

ADD TO BAG superimposes photographs extracted from investigations into SHEIN’s supply chain with product shots from the SHEIN website. By simulating and augmenting the experience of online shopping, the cognitive distance between the problems of production and the acts of consumption narrows. The viewer is asked to confront the exploitation that underlies their purchase from SHEIN, and more importantly, the people being exploited—a first step towards demanding transparency and accountability from fast fashion companies, and fair wages as well as dignified working conditions for the people they employ.

Read more at:



RACHEL (WAYCHEL PHOTOGRAPHY) is a queer, body-positive female photographer based in Singapore. She started out in 2021 as a pole dance photographer, empowering dancers (especially women) to represent themselves the way they want to be seen. Driven by a love for connective and compassionate stories, her work aims to foreground people and narratives marginalised in mainstream photography. She enjoy creating imagery that is both bold and dreamy, saturated with the surreal, sensual, and strange. @waychel_photography


I’ll block fashion spam, cos I’ll go make it myself though imperfect by hand, it’s an act of free will to make things that last seasons and evade landfills. Have a minimal or maximalist shelf

the style choice is yours, but remember talk is cheap: there’s exploitation on every supply chain thread the price is the planet or workers’ daily bread. Instead let’s buy less, make more, treasure what you keep, sashiko personality into repair crochet your own magic with planet friendly yarn reconsider each new hole as a chance to darn I’ll make it myself - cos I can decide what’s fair.

I’ll make it myself because I care where it goes we only have this blue earth, so let’s protect it and give time around the sun to every outfit. Let’s start a fashion rev with our DIY clothes.

I’ll make it myself


This poem is written with a 12 syllable ABBA / CDDC / EFFE /GHHG rhyming scheme.

Using crochet, I have visually represented the lines of the poem, each colour is a rhyming scheme: A / B / C / D/ E / F / G / H and each stitch represents a word in each line.

Yarn used to represent the piece is recycled wool, acrylic and organic cotton, and all scraps from other projects to ensure nothing is wasted.

TEGAN SMYTH is a poet with roots in Hong Kong and Australia. She was born in Sydney (Gadigal) and raised between Australia and Hong Kong, with parents hailing from both places. Her work has been published in Asian Cha, Voice & Verse, Twin Cities Anthology, KongPoWriMo and The Economist. In addition to her writing, Tegan is the founder of a grassroots refugee charity in Hong Kong called Grassroots Future. @grassrootsfuture


Fashion lives to express, delight, reflect, protest, comfort, commiserate and share. Fashion never subjugates, denigrates, degrades, marginalises or compromises. Fashion celebrates life.


These are just some of the hashtag-heavy movements I’ve encountered at the intersection of identity and style, as a 1. chronically online, 2. millennial, 3. Singaporean Tamil, 4. daughter of immigrant parents, coming of age in the era of representation politics and discussions around cultural appropriation.

While these movements were likely well-intentioned and meaningful to many who found community in solidarity, they were not without their limitations and flaws either. In her 2018 essay The Problem with Diaspora Art, the critic Zarina Muhammad critiqued such art for its “vague universality that skims over sticky intersections” like caste, sexuality, class, region and religious specificity, and in her recent follow-up The Problem with Diaspora Art 2 noted how “an Authentic or Essential Asian-ness […] just doesn’t or cannot exist. […] There’s no universal Asianness because Asia is not a monolith”.

#ReclaimTheBindi (2015) #SareeNotSorry (2015) #WhitePeopleDoingYoga (2014)

Over the years, my own politics and values in relation to “authentic” style have turned more inward. For my personal context as a Singaporean Tamil daughter of immigrant parents from India, my inclinations when it comes to self-expression through fashion lie somewhere between the inevitable influence of mainstream trends, my own tastes, and, frankly, the desire to not have to explain myself repeatedly if I happen to wear Indian clothes to the workplace, for example, outside of any specific occasion (no, there’s no ongoing festival; no, I’m not attending a wedding or going to the temple today).

With time and the financial means as an adult to — modestly — indulge my enthusiasm for playing dress-up, I’ve been able to cultivate alternative ways in which I form connections with my culture on my own terms, through what I choose to wear, and accessorise my outfits with.

From band tees to slogan tees, a black graphic T-shirt is a staple in many wardrobes. My favourite one is designed by Indian-American artist Chiraag Bhakta, who also creates work under the name *Pardon My Hindi.

Featuring his artwork Fast Friends, the T-shirt depicts the striking figure of two women adorned with what seems like a variation on a saree, jewellery and flowers in their hair.

The woman in the background has her chin tucked into the crook of the other’s neck and shoulder, and her fingers rest gently on the wrist of the figure in the foreground. Both stare directly at the viewer, as though daring them to define the relationship between them. I delight in asking anyone who compliments me on the T-shirt whether they think these two women are sisters or lovers — just to queer everything a little.



Like many fashion lovers, I eagerly anticipated the day when I could buy my first vintage or contemporary piece by a designer whose work I admired. High on my wishlist was Issey Miyake, whose pieces I like for their versatility, wearability and delightfully unpredictable runway shows.

By coincidence, just shortly after his death, I spotted on Depop a Pleats Please top that featured Tamil characters, partially obscured. Curious what the word could be, I exchanged a few messages with the Paris-based seller, who was equally enthusiastic, to try and learn more about the provenance of the print, but it was inconclusive. The chance encounter felt serendipitous, and I felt that this was the piece I was meant to have, and so I took the leap of purchasing it. Till now, I am not sure what the full word is, but am optimistic that someday, a fellow Tamil person will notice the top while I’m wearing it out in the world, and we may have a conversation about it.

Silver was popular in my youth (the heyday of chains like Silvera and Bits & Pieces in the 2000s, followed by Pandora), but nowadays, I gravitate towards gold, which I was initially suspicious of for the ways in which it is, for South Asian women, complicatedly tied up with heteronormative, patriarchal expectations of marriage and domesticity.

Nowadays, I regularly wear a few pieces of gold(-coloured) jewellery gifted or loaned to me by important women in my life: a ring from my maternal grandmother, another that is my mother’s, a third from a dear friend; tiny hoops by TANAÏS from which dangle open palms dotted with alta, a red dye applied on women’s hands and feet for occasions such as festivals, marriage ceremonies and cultural performances.


Tanaïs, the multi-hyphenate maker of my abovementioned earrings, is also an accomplished perfumer and author of the memoir In Sensorium: Notes For My People. They beautifully describe scents as “an evocation, a portal into another time, place, or memory”. Rather unoriginally, but sincerely, I too was obsessed for a period with Santal 33, the cult-favourite sandalwood scent from Le Labo Fragrances. But when I got my first whiff of Matí by Tanaïs, that changed forever. With notes of mitti attar from the Ganges River, rose, sea salt and cocoa, Matí is a scent meant to be inhaled deeply and savoured. It transports me to an environment I have never actually inhabited in this life but which feels familiar, deep in my bones. It is the life-giving scent of wet earth after the rain.

Though it is a constant work-in-progress, it is affirming — and a privilege — to be able to choose to dress myself in clothing and accessories that originate from individuals and collectives whose ethics align with mine. Tanaïs too resists the idea of a monolithic South Asian identity or experience, stating that “part of the narrative we need to deepen in our understanding of South Asian [identity] is knowing how acknowledging difference has really been a part of undoing domination”.

Tanaïs adds: “One of the things that you learn as you try to decolonize yourself is that you speak in a language that is not necessarily your mother tongue. You hold yourself and carry yourself and dress yourself and adorn yourself in clothes that are of the culture in which you are living, but then there are all these other modes of adornment that also belong to us.”


A bit like how they seek to reclaim materials historically wrested away from the peoples they belonged to, and to use them in their craft — jewellery, perfumes makeup — I too seek through my style choices to embrace and represent the multitude of identities I inhabit, outside of simplistic binaries, stereotypes and hashtags. Through fashion, I express the nuanced realities of my life, both the aspects that bring joy and frustrate me. Through fashion, I seek not to explain myself and speak for my community, but with them as we cross paths by chance or seek each other out, as we move through the world.

ADITI SHIVARAMAKRISHNAN is an editor and writer in Singapore. Her work has been published in ArtsEquator, gal-dem, Portside Review, SEASONINGS Magazine and elsewhere. Find her at



So, what do the components mean?

I decided to sculpt a wearable headgear filled with faces and hands to represent the unfairness and mistreatments that the workers in the fast fashion industry face; while the florals and fungi symbolise the repercussions on the environment as a result of over-consumption.

I am quite an emotional artist, so I also added in some sculpted tears to represent my disappointment and sadness about the situations.

The handmade quilt from scratch using unwanted garments, over pile of cut-up from previous projects my fabric offcuts. I something “mishy-mashy” represent the different from different parts coming together to and sustainable fashion. want, through the act to encourage the reuse garments and waste giving new life to them.

quilt was made a friend’s garments, some leftgarments projects and wanted “mishy-mashy” to different cultures parts of the world to promote slow fashion. I also act of quilting, reuse of old waste textiles, them.

While a little tough to tell from the photo, there are a couple of darned patches on the quilt and hanging threads linking me, the headgear, quilt and the larger sculpted eyed-fungus together. They symbolise that everything on our planet is connected and cyclical. Any imbalance has its consequences.

Why did I not choose the convenient digital route for this portrait photography?

I got to know Robert, my collaborator/photographer for this project, through another visual artist. He invited me to his tintype photography studio and I was intrigued by the process. Tintype photography can be quite temperamental if certain conditions, ranging from the age of the chemicals, timing and lighting etc, are not met. To achieve a single shot, time, cost and effort are needed.

I thought that was quite similar to the slow fashion of making good-quality garment that lasts.

CHRISTINE R. BAY is a multi-disciplinary pop-surreal artist and in response to the manifesto, she has decided to incorporate sculpting, textile art and quilting into analog tintype portrait photography, all of which require the use of manual labour.

@christinerbayart | @rbr_film

“Un.discordance” is to undo the discordance we have unleashed.


With many spicy questions, Juicy pries some salty secrets of the fame machine from Hazeerah’s luscious lips as transpires…

Gossip glad-rag and industry observer Juicy Menders secured an exclusive interview with Hazeerah (now known by only one name, price of fame) of the reality TV show So Stylo, which aired on national TV channel Suria in 2022. Viewable in perpetuity online.

In this all-new reality competition, 12 talented designer hopefuls will go headto-head to find out what it takes to be the top local designer in modest wear fashion! In every episode, designers will take on different themes and come up with original designs that appeal to our modest wearing community today. From street wear, athletic gear to the iconic baju kurung, designers will battle it out to prove they have [what] it takes to impress multi-talented judges in the industry and win the grand prize.

— As described on MeWatch (2022), So Stylo’s streaming platform

Juicy Menders (JM): Thank you for this exclusive interview. Is it accurate to define So Stylo as “like Project Runway but made Singapore makcik-friendly (affectionate term for aunt in Malay)”?

Could you describe this project better for us?

Hazeerah (H): It’s true, it’s for makciks!! Just kidding.

So Stylo is a local network show that hopes to give local fashion designers who have yet to gain exposure a platform — at the same time, educating viewers on different aspects of fashion, like garment construction and broader issues around sustainability.

Twelve of us with different backgrounds and expertise battled it out in a reality-

styled competition every week with different themes, with the possibility of getting eliminated at the end of each episode. Brr!

JM: Reality TV being what it is, how scripted were the scenarios? How controlled were the scenarios, and how did luck play into the equation?

H: All of the reactions from the participants were real. However, with reality shows in general, I understand the need for an entertaining storyline. So, certain moments like a ripped seam — which can easily be fixed in a second — are dramatised for effect.

With regards to winning a challenge, luck played a part. If you choose a material you are familiar with or go

to People’s Park Complex (where we bought all our materials from) often enough, you have an advantage. Sometimes, it simply came down to whether the sewing machine cooperated with you under pressure and a short crunch time.

JM: What parts of the project deviated the most from reality?

H: When it came down to filming and making the clothes, there was no time to second-guess or even take advice to change stuff up. This process is different in the real world, where fabric, material, and fit would be deliberated upon with multiple checks on a fit model before going into production.

JM: As a high-stress fashion

competition, what challenges did you and your fellow participants face?

H: The big challenge for most of us was working in front of the cameras while working within a concise amount of time. We had to do most of the planning and researching at home before and after filming. We had very early call times, and shoots always wrapped up late. We were dealing with exhaustion from filming and working with a limited budget.

Looking back, this hurt my decisionmaking. The experience felt like a crash course on time and energy management. Overworking is often glamourised, especially in the industry. But an exhausted brain produces uninspired stuff.

Creatives burn out fast as something new always needs to be churned out to make money. Either that, or the opposite happens, and creativity is crushed to create products that generate the most profit.

JM: One of the most ‘horrified-gaspinducing’ moments I had was when one of the judges remarked, “You’re not a designer, you’re just a tailor…” which felt unnecessarily critical to career sewists. All while wearing ridiculously tailored garments.

H: There is also a romanticised idea that a fashion designer can weave something stunning out of some fabric and a pair of scissors. But many hands are part of the end product, like people working on the cutting room floor.

That being said, the part where they positioned us as hopeful designers ready to make a mark in this industry is a classic trope that stands true for both the show and real life. We all dream of creating and empowering people through clothes and style expression.

H: I had major beef with the domestic sewing machines provided. MAJOR!!!

Some of them gave up after being overworked in a short time frame. We also hated how the lights in the supplies closet took us on a ride, as the fabric colours turned up differently under studio lighting. It was, “Is the dress gold or blue?” all over again, except this time it wasn’t funny when the stakes were high.

I was also worried about how I would be edited on TV. Would I look stupid when certain things are out of my control? Would I become a meme?

The production assured us dignified representations, but these things should have crossed my mind before signing the contract.

If I were more media-savvy, I would have played up my personality and been more pretentious. But the great thing was we all looked weird with the weird angles and lighting, so all was fair.

JM: Was there any beef, real or imagined? There was a lot of powerplay, and it was difficult to gauge what was meant to be entertaining.

JM: Were any participants or judges assigned to play classic reality TV stereotypes? Did any of the contestants come up with ways to beat the system and get better results?

H: All the contestants became fast friends because of our shared love for fashion. That was one of the positive things I took away from being a part of this production. It was a pity they did not show how we helped each other and bounced ideas off each other behind the scenes.

Frankly, I hoped the show took a renewed take on the early era of fashion competitions. Still, they had entertainment value in mind and hoped for a more traditional fierce rivalry competition.

At many points, we played the game by anticipating the themes based on how the host dressed at the start, but it never really worked.

Then some of us tried to listen to the crew speaking for clues, but production was tight-lipped.

JM: I had so many questions in my head as I was binge-watching the show. There were many signs that the budget was not high. How did they manage to pull it off?

with a small local network TV budget. They initially split us into groups to compete so the judges had enough time to give quality comments. We were constantly balancing quality garment production with the time, equipment, and budget set up for us. We often need to be more connected to the fact that creative and considered clothes will always take time to construct, which fast-fashion retailers leverage.

I hope viewers get a better idea of the price points for tailoring and alterations after watching the show. I recall one of the camera crew who followed me around, shocked that one metre of fabric cost so much.

As to how we managed to pull off the looks, we tried our best to help each other. We understand it’s just a show, and by the last part of the episode, we all were mentally spent and just wanted to send out a complete look. I think this support system was what we all needed in the pressure cooker environment, and we leaned into each other quite a bit for moral support.

H: Like how the contestants pulled up magic with a low budget, the production team also tried their best

JM: What were the best bits and the worst mishaps? Did you commit any fashion “crimes”?

H: My favourite episode was when we went to a thrift shop instead of fabric shops to buy materials. That was a good way of showing alternative sourcing methods, and I managed to showcase a fraction of my knowledge of textiles. It was also an episode on sustainability, which I appreciated.

The most memorable (horrible) incident, I recall, was when my partner and I were paired up to create and produce a product together. This was the first challenge. We were exhausted from managing day jobs and freelance work while filming the show.

We made so many mistakes out of exhaustion. There was even a point when we planned an escape: To grab our bags and handphones out of the locked storage so we could slip away unnoticed. We were so stressed. It was a wonder we even sent the model dressed on the runway.

JM: Ultimately, what do you feel about such shows? Would you do it again? Were there aspects that blew your mind or made you go meh? What did you take away from this experience?

reality dating show to build up my social capital instead!

Jokes aside, I think the reality show competition format is overdone, and it is the media’s version of fast fashion. The show just reinforced how I feel about fashion and the general problems with the fashion system. There are so many alternative stories to tell from the perspective of a fashion historian or an artisan with a dying craft. Being on a reality TV show is a unique experience, I learned to hate myself less for squeezing out a rushed design in such circumstances. But such formats of storytelling are limiting.

The real prize for me was the friends I made along the way. I love that we found community in a place that was meant to create a mindset of competition and division. The show also invigorated my sense of urgency to experiment and create more! Overall, it’s nonetheless an interesting experience.

H: Maybe next I will join Physical 100 or something less demanding like a

JUICY MENDERS is a rogue fashion industry observer out to stitch, b*tch, snitch and make readers twitch.

All behind-the-scenes photos are provided to us by HAZEERAH

solidariTHRIFT is a thrift market raising funds for mutual aid. It is our attempt at directly helping the community and taking care of one another. Held annually, it aims to create a safe, inclusive shopping space for all genders, sizes, and economic backgrounds. Since our first iteration in 2021, we have included free racks, sliding scales, and a pay-as-you-wish system.

irie aman is a creative and community builder. They were the Editor-in-Chief of The Local Rebel, an intersectional feminist zine. Currently, irie hosts dink, a monthly open mic night for all mediums and artists, and leads QUASA, a Queer Muslim collective. @lumina.rie

NADIA FERDY is a fashion design student who has a keen interest in the narratives underlying fashion collections and garments, where cultural elements (such as tradition, pop-culture, subculture, etc.) can be liberating and align with one’s individual identity. She is an advocate for sustainable practices and firmly believes that comprehending the clothes we wear can enable us to utilise them more effectively.

Invasion of the Toxic Positivity Monsters

In response to #6, #7, #9, and #10 of Fashion Revolution’s Manifesto, myself (Adel) and fellow sustainable fashion design practitioner Hazeerah experiment with new and old art-making by clashing AI art generation with handcrafted soft sculpture derived from physical textile waste in a tongue-in-cheek “cutting edge” trendy craft jam. Hazeerah’s ideas on regenerative art address her curiosity about neophilia, human behaviour, and tech-aided consumerism, while my soft sculptures explore ideas of nostalgia, play, destruction, reconstruction, irony, uselessness, forced happiness, and worth.

Against the background of a world endlessly filled with trash created through AI Imaging and coded regenerative forms, the toxic positivity ‘monsters’ mutate and come alive in an imagined, strangely serene dystopian/post-apocalyptic future, beyond humanity’s extinction. Perhaps in the absence of humans, AI could merge with and create sentience in the remaining waste to morph and regenerate an alternative world where non-human beings thrive and survive. In this project I finally face the MUTA aspect of my practice and focus on mutation and directing rage into a reconstructed joy, while Hazeerah provides the postapocalyptic cyberpunk backdrop.


MUTA WEAR (ADEL NG) is part of a design practice that utilises waste as a resource, while investigating the experience, existence and lifespan of every handmade object.

Maker Adel Ng’s beauty-from-waste ethos aims for circularity, functionality, comfort and meaning.


HAZEERAH BASRI is a fashion and textile designer fascinated with uncovering and telling stories of the human condition. She sees fashion as not only a form of expression but a vehicle for change. Her work draws inspiration from history, art, culture and philosophy and incorporates textile techniques to elevate her concepts - usually allegories for the state of the world.


A close-to-home leotards and my leotard, the when I am dressed onto the foor. would prevent I toyed with higher waistline. I wore it, a new too sweet and saw the doe

I had begun but soon I realised A basic navy, discontinue legs, but about

close-to-home example: As an adult ballet student, I own four tights, but I never feel good with my tights placed under the proper look. My torso-to-leg ratio becomes accentuated dressed that way, so much so that my pelvis looks loaded foor. The language of that judgement is stark, but to soften it prevent you from seeing how harshly I can view myself.

a ballet wrap skirt for a short while, using it to waistline. It enabled those few higher centimetres, but each time new distress would surface: the skirt’s features would feel and delicate for my personality, and I would jerk whenever I in the mirror. She was too sweet for my icier homeostasis.

to wonder whether the solution wasn’t to buy another skirt, realised that the skirt I had was already the best possibility. navy, it shouldn’t have felt too sweet, and yet it was. To using the skirt would make me feel better—not about about how my outside would match better with my insid

It’s effortless, the way my legs dictate what I wear. A tailor’s gawking eyes, as she made a costume for me for dance theatre, reminded me of the ratio in which my body splits unusually: a top significantly longer than the bottom, like a Dachshund on all fours.

My legs are a memorable part of my body not only because they take up an unusually short strip of my silhouette but also because they contain calves the size of some infants. I remember holding my neonatal daughter the way I could hold my calf now. Not just the size is similar, but also the tenderness of a relationship built.

When I was in high school, classmates remarked on my muscular legs, which led the touch rugby and soccer teams on weekdays and did taekwondo on weekends. In my 154-centimetre, mid-forties-kilogram frame, these calves looked like they had cannibalized the rest of me, anaconda-style. Whenever there was a No-Uniform Day in school, I appeared in long jeans and heels, fighting the Bangkok heat and risking consequences for wearing shoes against the rules.

I thrived in college where snowy winters covered the landscape as if it perennially owned it. Even springs and falls in the Massachusetts’ Berkshires acted like twins to winter. Occasions to cover up my legs grew with the snow piles, giving me a life unlike that with short-skort uniforms. I spent my days unconcerned about my insecurities, expending my energy on intellectual pursuits and relationships. My legs ceased to be a daily feature for four years, during which I learned what feeling alive meant — and it had a lot to do with how my insecurities were excluded from my daily ongoings. When I could hide features that didn’t make me feel good, I had the basics of a body to go ahead and thrive.

Insecurities pull us back, and it would be hypocritical of me, even as an advocate for the environment, to say that how we feel about our bodies must not factor into how we dress. We live in our bodies continuously, expanding out of them until they sometimes seem like our cores. After all, the body is the first layer that we wear, and there is no way to slip out.

A good day often starts with being able to choose our clothes. Yet, there is a throughline in every narrative with them that many of us seem to forget. This throughline travels from our insecurities dictating our self-perception to how we want clothes to perform for us to feel better; at either of these endpoints — if they were part of a line — there are precedents and consequences in what the chosen clothes do to the environment.

A close-to-home example: As an adult ballet student, I own four sets of leotards and tights, but I never feel good with my tights placed under my leotard, the proper look. My torso-to-leg ratio becomes accentuated when I am dressed that way, so much so that my pelvis looks loaded onto the floor. The language of that judgement is stark, but to soften it would prevent you from seeing how harshly I can view myself.

I toyed with a ballet wrap skirt for a short while, using it to create a higher waistline. It enabled those few higher centimetres, but each time I wore it, a new distress would surface: the skirt’s features would feel too sweet and delicate for my personality, and I would jerk whenever I saw the doe in the mirror. She was too sweet for my icier homeostasis.

I had begun to wonder whether the solution wasn’t to buy another skirt, but soon I realised that the skirt I had was already the best possibility. A basic navy, it shouldn’t have felt too sweet, and yet it was. To discontinue using the skirt would make me feel better — not about my legs, but about how my outside would match better with my inside.

The skirt I had acquired was polyester, an environmental villain made out of fossil fuels, and I let it prematurely stop serving me after three wears. It did not have defects, and it had not failed to lengthen my leg line, but it created too big a trade-off with my personality. Would my premature discarding have mattered less if the skirt had been made of natural fibres? To the extent that the environmental impact of a clothing item cannot be distinctly quantified, I’d say, “Maybe,” acknowledging large unknowns.

How many clothes sit in our wardrobes, cumulatively, as part of our species’ finding of bits and pieces on individual quests to address how we feel about our insecurities? How many humans don’t have insecurities that they’ve tried to address through clothes? (Zero?) How many do, and how many clothing items have been purchased as a result of wanting to fix or hide a body part? How many clothing items that we’ve tried to use, cumulatively, to become “better” have helped us ideally, ending our search that was never about insulation, hygiene, or social decorum, but the way we were unable to welcome a physical part of ourselves? If we look at the mountains of clothes dumped in Ghana, India, and Chile, how many are the result of deep, inner dissatisfaction?

Stills from Changing Room (2023), courtesy of Thammika

Since 2022, Xin You Tan and I have been working with Adelene Stanley, Ahilya Kaul, Crispian Chan, and Beryl Tay, to create Changing Room, a National Geographic Society-funded dance film that asks, “What does criticising our bodies have to do with climate change?” Knowing that human insecurities are bound to continue, we felt it would be sensible and refreshing for the ruinous hyperactivity of the fashion industry to be addressed in a way that all viewers can relate to through their own psychology.

Imagine if we reimagined our relationship with clothes—and not in the technical sense, not through questions of, “Bamboo or polyester?” but through asking, “What are our clothes really about?” or “How much waste would not exist if we first felt fulfilled from the inside?”

I could go on with my leg line experiments, and I am aware that the fashion industry would be ready to sell, regardless. This industry profits from my wanting to test things out and my going down the rabbit hole greased by selfdisatisfaction, but I have chosen to find a solution with what I already have. Nowadays, I opt for the look that frustrates some traditional instructors but that other dancers also use. I put my tights over my leotard, summoning no skirt.

This solution is the best I can do for every stakeholder involved, from me to Earth. I believe so, remembering that my legs are unlikely to become my favourite body part, but this perception also does not give me the right to continuously consume, especially to address an issue that is a problem likely more of the mind than it is of my body.

THAMMIKA SONGKAEO, founder of Two Glasses LLP, is a Thai National Geographic Explorer (2022) in Singapore, using her grant to produce Changing Room, a short film. With funding from the SG Eco Fund, Changing Room will screen at The Projector on September 23 and 30, and every screening comes with Q&A and Movement Therapy. You can follow her and the company on Instagram at @two_glasses_tg.

Small is Beautiful


Today, my friend and I walked around Haig Road Market. It is far from a conventional shopping choice; it is not a mega-mall where H**s or Z*R*s or other chain stores beam down at you, tempting you with glossy photo shoots and advertisement banners.

Instead, it is this: several small shops taking up space along winding corridors, shop-owners perched on stools eating their lunch, sometimes having to take care of their kids or grandkids; hand-written “FOR SALE” or “BIG DISCOUNT” signs in black marker, sometimes on A4 construction paper or little neon postits, clipped onto stands by the store owner when he sets up shop for the day; chaotic store fronts where personal taste spills over to interior design – a redpaper blessing from a temple now stuck onto the utilities cabinet, or an odd knick-knack that sits on the cash register.

Handmade store front and discount signs at Haig Road Market

There is something so evidently human in all of this that strikes me; the hustle and bustle of life that reminds me that each shop is owned by another human being, that behind this business is another whole life.

As I walk, the store aunties and uncles look at me expectantly. My heart twinges because I know I will not be able to make all of their days today. Business seems slow, difficult. The “SALE!!” signs don’t irk me here like they do when I see them in malls — I count the slashes: $20s to $10s, $10s to $5. I admire them, their honesty, the fact that there isn’t any manipulation involved. The signs speak truthfully to the owners’ desires: please support us! These words don’t have to be said out loud, I can feel it in their patient waiting around, in their mindful tending of the store, in the signs they have written out themselves.

I write this as someone who was always interested in shopping small, in the beautiful possibilities of it all. The way you could talk to the store owners directly, and hear their stories. The way you could immerse yourself in a fully sensorial experience, taking your time to touch and feel a worn leather shoe, a silky blouse, a cool jade pendant. The way you could chance upon something you did not expect to — a shop in an unexpected alleyway, a newfound love amidst crowded racks or shelves.

I loved all of these things, but these felt like Small things around a Big problem.

The current rhetoric around sustainable consumption revolves around the pressing and urgent need to shift away from the capitalist, consumerist modes of buying. Fast-paced, mass-produced, bulk-buying… the dirty words of fashion, as they should be.

This urgency has become a heavy weight on my shoulders whenever I am asked to talk and write about shopping sustainably or small. My instinct has always been to share, hype up, or make Big these small or second-hand businesses. I created lists of “Top 10 second-hand shops in Singapore”, I made Instagram reels, I applied my knowledge of the algorithm and buzzy language to these businesses, hoping to reframe these businesses as “trendy” and “cool”.

Yet, I realise my own instinct for Bigness as an antidote to their Smallness. This frenzy, I feel, is very much informed by what capitalism has taught me as Success: upscaling, expansion; mega-corporations, owning several franchises in different malls; championing trends, or simply following and reproducing them.

I say, “let’s make second-hand and shopping small TRENDY!” But why must we make it trendy? Why is trendiness a marker of success within the consumption world? We proudly say, “this is thrifted” and now “thrift” and “vintage” have become “brand-words” in their own way, they’ve begun to fuel their own trend cycles, creating more production and consumption.

Maybe there is another way we can stop this endless cycle.

Is small or second-hand really so rare? Do we really need buzzy lists and social media to find that “unexpected” or “rare” gem of a shop that Instagram swears we will fall in love with?

I used to think so, and in part, this is true. It is harder to find small businesses now, because big corporations and mega brands have eradicated so much of the business of tradesmen, craftsmen, small and local businesses. I am not writing to refute this fact. But I write this to contemplate the potential and possibility that consuming “small” could be closer to our communities, our physical home, and our natural instincts than we think.

I write to explore this natural, accessible, everyday Smallness. Perhaps the antidote to frenzied consumption or big-brand domination may not be to make these Small Shops Big, or to make second-hand Trendy and Fresh and New, but rather to change the way we think about consumption, production, shopping, ownership. To change our relationship to “small”; perhaps, small as the best and most human way to reorient our lives to the material world.


Small is Beautiful.

Small is beautiful. Breathe, take this in.

When I first met Uncle Tom in Tiong Bahru Market, he proudly showed me every single corner of his little accessory shop. The shop was cramped, filled with his treasures and creations. In a corner on the right, there is a stool and a small workbench where he makes his jewellery. Right in front of his work bench are two large display cases where he displays finished jewellery for sale. The walls are lined with makeshift shelving where hats, glasses, jewellery and other bits and bobs are arranged for ease of browsing.

Uncle Tom in his shop in Tiong Bahru Market (#01-215) Uncle Tom’s creations and the treasure items he displays in his store in the background.

Small is beautiful, as in, Uncle Tom, he knows every piece or item he is selling in his store. When my fingers run over an antique silver ring, or trace the beads on a necklace, he immediately pipes up with an anecdote or two — telling me about the material, the manufacturer, or the place of origin. I can see that Uncle Tom, proudly showcasing to me his collection of handmade jewellery and antiques, has personally unpackaged, handled and polished every one of the items in his shop with his own two hands.

This is not the “you will also like…” function on online platforms or algorithmdriven advertising – this is someone communicating with me through consumption and production; this is someone sharing his life’s work, his career, his passion with me, through buying and selling. These words are sadly now tainted with capitalist notions of materialism, overconsumption, greed, but here, I am saying these words lovingly, because they’ve allowed us to meet and connect in this small little shop space, they are the ways in which I am entering into and partaking of the small little world he has built up.

Meeting Uncle Tom, and other small shop owners like him, I think: what a beautiful small world. I want to be part of buying and selling when it’s with them.

I want to be a part of this relationship, built on mutual respect and trust. This applies to that small Instagram shop owner I trust to curate good quality things for me, as it does to that Aunty or Uncle who stand proudly at their store front. These are people who place their own person alongside the goods they sell, telling us in their beaming smiles: this is what I want to offer. This is what I think is good. This is what I believe is of value to you. In this, there is accountability, ownership and pride. We are not talking about an absence of profit motive, or no desire to sell you their goods. Of course they want you to buy — this is their labour, this is their life. But all I can say is small is beautiful, because here, there is trust and personhood and relationships that govern this process of production and consumption.

Let us stop hiding behind glossy advertisements or AI-generated metrics: I am tired of relationships of production and consumption being based on manipulation. As the brands scheme and plot to get us to spend money at their store, we, in turn, scheme and plot on how to make the best bargain for ourselves. We plan a combination of discount codes to get the best deal out of them; we turn to websites and mobile applications specifically built to tell us when prices have dropped; we hold out until we know the company strategically rolls out discounts to clear out past season inventory. If not, we buy something, only to bemoan the company for “cheating us” of our money when the item doesn’t live up to advertised expectations. There is frustration and pain on both sides – mistrust, scheming, outwitting, disappointment, defeat.. these are the things governing our buying and selling today.

I mourn for the openness, respect and trust we have lost. I yearn for the communing, sharing, and joy we could have.

I want to smile at something I love, touch it, try it, talk to the shop owner about it, engage in friendly banter, ask them questions about the material and supplier, ask for their opinion, tell them I’ll come again; or I want to purchase it, believing and trusting that the money I have put into the item will serve me well, will serve me long.


Beautiful is always right next to you, “right around the corner”

I am reminded of Remy from Ratatouille, and the movie’s famous quote. “A cook can come from anywhere.” A cook can come from anywhere, and that beautiful item of clothing or object that will stay with you, and serve you for life, can come from anywhere.

“Trendy” is everywhere. “Cool” is everywhere. Most importantly, Beautiful is everywhere. Have we been hoodwinked by media and corporate messaging that these things can only be found in specific places, i.e. on their platforms?

Instead, could we ask ourselves: what’s opposite my house? What’s on the street next to mine?

What’s that aunty selling at the market? What does my friend/parent/ significant other have in their closet or homes?

What do the communities and people directly in our vicinity have to offer?

For so many of us, including myself, our needs and wants have pushed us towards what has presented itself as the most accessible and convenient: huge malls, or online shopping platforms. We rely on businesses and brands to curate our tastes for us; our needs and wants are slowly being shaped by the sheer volume of products we see online, the flashy advertisements, the compounding discounts.

When I feel overwhelmed with want, I like to take a walk around my neighbourhood. It always opens my eyes and shows me there is so much more closer to home than I realise.

What are the shops near our home? Where are the nearest local markets? What do they sell, and on which day? Where is my community centre – do they have community gardens, workshop spaces, or a book exchange shelf? Where is our local library? Where is the nearest shoe repairman or tailor? What about our friends and neighbours – could I borrow or swap something with them?

It is beautiful to be in physical and material interdependence with those around me. In a time where isolation and independence have become the norm, even praised and celebrated, I want to lean hard on my place, my people. I want to depend on things to be there for me — the bread shop that opens every day until midnight, the aunty who sells the softest cotton sleepwear every Sunday, the uncle who I know will be there, faithfully repairing shoes until he no longer can… In turn, they depend on us to show up and support them.

I chance upon a jewellery booth and second-hand clothes shop on my way to dinner, outside Clementi mall!


Small means waiting for it, and in

this, we find beauty.

Humans are beautiful because they desire.

I think the hardest but most beautiful part about shopping small or secondhand is the patience it requires. Often, I find myself in the period of waiting and longing, knowing I want something but not being able to find it just yet.

Waiting always teaches me something about myself. In that empty gap of not owning something, I often learn that my desire was born out of an insecurity, or constructed lack. I need this because I am not XXX enough, or, this Thing will make me more XXX. Profit-driven, media-fuelled narratives often mean I see myself as lacking, always in need for the next new or better thing to create a newer and better version of myself.

When will we realise that we are not lacking subjects, but desiring ones1?

1 Rather than seeing ourselves as lacking individuals, I want us to see ourselves as “desiring subjects”, where our desires empower us and expand us, and are reflective of our instinct to be connected with the people and world around us. As a “desiring subject”, I want us to focus on our potentials and possibilities rather than what we lack.

In the waiting, I’ve learnt to understand my own needs and wants better. Rather than what the model is wearing on the website, I’ve come to understand how my body feels in different shapes, textures or silhouettes. Rather than the stories social media or advertising is telling me, I’ve come to prioritise how my heart resonates with a certain person selling something, and the stories they tell. Rather than seeing myself as insufficient, I see myself as a desiring subject, someone whose yearning and craving brings them out into the world, to connect and resonate with objects and people.

It is human and normal to desire, to yearn, to crave. I hope for us to crave from a place of truth, from a place of knowing ourselves better and more intimately.

With this, comes the sheer joy of finding something that fits just right with us – when this happens, I feel not more or less, but simply more of Me. This is taken at The Fashion Pulpit when I found a linen blazer that fit me perfectly. It was a happy day.

I don’t want small to become Big, because small is so, so beautiful.

Instead of mindless self-indulgence that only leaves us feeling emptier, “shopping” could be a beautiful experience that fills us. A sensorial, tactile experience of touching, seeing, holding in our palms; one of connection and communion as we listen and share, forming relationships with people and their treasured objects; even one of grounding and self-knowledge, as we become more intimately attuned to our own needs and wants.

This is where I want the narrative to be: not for us to beat ourselves up into wanting less, but realising there is so much more for us in shopping small.

Perhaps it is through the smallest ways we engage with the world that we build something bigger and more beautiful, together.

ESTHER KOH is a writer, reader, as well as a consumer and lover of all things small and secondhand. Her journey into writing about consumption began when she started documenting her shopping experiences and finds on Instagram, and realised the importance of sharing alternative stories and experiences of consumption. She runs the instagram account where she documents and archives small and secondhand businesses around Singapore. She is passionate about healing our relationship with consumption, and believes that our interactions with the material world, rather than destructive, can be restorative and life-giving.


Fashion Revolution Singapore would like to thank Fashion Revolution and Laudes Foundation for generous support in publishing our first zine. Amelia Temple, Nicky Allan, and Jesica Pullo, thank you for your administrative guidance and ongoing assistance. Thank you for believing in our vision.

Our collaborators, Adel Ng, Aditi Shivaramakrishnan, Christine Bay, Esther Koh, Hazeerah Basri, irie aman, Nadia Ferdy, Rachel from Waychel Photography, and Tegan Smith, for responding to our open call/invitation to be a part of MANIFESTO. Thank you for trusting us.

Last but not least, Yi An Chen, thank you for all your work in making this zine come to life. Your gentle yet critical perception of these issues created MANIFESTO. Collaborating with you is a dream come true.

To the Fashion Revolution Singapore

2023 team — Ho Jia Hong, Lumin Hew, Daniela Monasterios-Tan, Adel Ng, Hazeerah Basri, Weiqi Yap, Rachel Liou, and Anisa Sia Johnny, thank you for volunteering your time and energy. Susannah Jaffer, thank you for providing us with the dream space to host our launch party. The work we do, though seemingly small, does not go unnoticed.

With love, Xingyun Shen



We stand in solidarity with the organisations working on the ground to hold the fashion industry accountable, and who have supported garment workers in Bangladesh in the last 10 years:






Bangladesh Centre for Workers’ Solidarity, National Garment Workers Federation, Workers Right Consortium, Maquila Solidarity Network, International Labor Rights Forum


Email a brand: What’s in my clothes? And Who made my clothes?

Educational resources for educators and students

Write a postcard to a policymaker

How to host an event for Fashion Revolution Week

Haulternative guide

Share your fashion love story

Fashion Transparency Index 2021

South East Asia Fashion Sustainability Report

Manual: Clothing Repair for Beginners

Find more resources here.


(Resources in this non-exhaustive list come recommended from the Fashion Revolution Singapore team. Let us know what you think!)


All About Love: New Visions (2000) by bell hooks

Big Dress Energy, How Fashion Psychology Can Transform Your Wardrobe and Your Confidence (2022) by Shakaila Forbes-Bell

Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change & Consumerism (2022) by Aja Barber

Craft of Use: Post-Growth Fashion (2016) by Kate Fletcher (2016)

Earth Logic: Fashion Action Research Plan (2019) by Kate Fletcher and Mathilda Tham

Foot Work: What Your Shoes Are Doing to the World (2020) and

The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion (2022) by Tansy E. Hoskins

Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World (2020) by Jason Hickel

Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes

Can Be a Revolutionary Act (2021) by Orsola de Castro

Silent Spring (1962) by Rachel Carson





Articles of Interest


Conscious Style

Remember Who Made Them re:wear @ The Fashion Pulpit


Fashion Accountability Report 2022 [Remake]

Fashion Transparency Index 2022 [Fashion Revolution]

Fossil Fashion reports [Changing Markets Foundation]

Inside Our Wardrobe: A Collaborative Wardrobe Study [The Fashion Pulpit, Singapore Sustainability Academy]


For public use and reference

All rights reserved to Fashion Revolution Singapore


For all enquiries and feedback, email

Designed by Yi An Chen


Instagram: @fash_rev | @fash_rev_sg



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