In the “new” Vietnam, there’s an emerging environmental consciousness happening as the country grows economically. With consumers choosing Vietnamese natural beauty products, and with more and more organic food product stores popping up, brands are becoming conscious of their impact on the environment and the shift in consumer behavior and taste. In Vietnam’s fashion industry, the trend is evidenced by the growth of Vietnamese fashion brands that are developing with a dedication to sustainably.
In her ten years in Vietnam, French-Vietnamese designer Linda Mai Phung has founded her own fashion label and worked on the Uber rebranding allowing her to gain a deep understanding of the industry here. She sees sustainable fashion as not simply making clothes but a “mindful way of creating and consuming fashion”. To Linda, it’s all about appreciating the art of fashion while paying attention to how the clothing was made.
Linda has launched SUPER VISION, a cycling-focused urban streetwear brand offering fashionable, functional clothing to the European market. It stands as a model for sustainability in the industry. Not only are eco-friendly fabrics like ultra-soft denim tencel used, but the brand also embraces factory conditions that respect their workers.
SUPER VISION is also taking sustainability to another level with its zero kilogram carbon dioxide emission goal to create the smallest footprint possible. Each product has a code with the kilograms of carbon dioxide emission and the number of kilometers cycling it translates to.
“Offsetting emissions is also in the hands of the consumer—they can pressure more brands and suppliers to change their practices,” Linda explains. But besides sustainability, Linda’s goal is to “make cycling sexy.” But she wants people to wear the clothes for their style, not just for functionality.
That makes Linda the perfect person to curate sustainable fashion in Vietnam. Vietcetera had a chance to catch up with Linda Mai Phung in Evolution3’s factory during her short trip back to Ho Chi Minh City. So we hitched a ride out to District 9 to hear her thoughts on five local brands pursuing sustainable fashion goals in Vietnam.
Linda Mai Phung’s guide to sustainable Vietnamese fashion brands
Profile Man, formerly known as Profile 1×1, is the Vietnamese fashion brand for the modern working professional. Founder Morgan Truong describes the style as minimalism with a twist. “I incorporate minor trendy details, like stripe variations, while retaining the everyday wearability of the clothes,” she explains. For now, the brand exclusively offers men’s clothes, but will use leftover fabric to design women’s clothing in the future.
She believes that there are “two components to sustainability—traceability and transparency.” Traceability lies in fabric production. It’s centered around using natural fibers and reducing pollution. “I haven’t been able to completely develop this part of my brand yet because it’s so new…”
But she is actively developing the transparency of Profile Man. “I want customers to know what they’re paying for,” explains Morgan. By allowing her customers to better understand the price behind her clothes, she hopes that they will appreciate her efforts at working towards sustainability.
Linda’s insights: “I think Morgan’s emphasis on transparency is important. Sustainable fashion isn’t just about using natural fabrics. There needs to be a holistic approach.
I understand how hard it can be hard for a Vietnamese fashion brand to get fabric from a supplier when ordering small quantities. What Morgan might be able to do is contact suppliers at the end of the season to purchase leftover fabric at a discounted price. I did that many times with my brand!”
Prioritizing wearability and functionality in its designs, TimTay is designed for people of all ages who share a love for comfort and the environment. Using linen, a natural fabric, to make 90% of its clothes, this brand offers comfortable, airy designs perfect for Vietnam’s tropical climate.
Co-founder and designer Hoang Tu is very active so she prefers “clothes that are light, comfortable, and versatile,” similar to the ones she designs for the brand’s “Casual collection.”
The TimTay collection, on the other hand, takes a different approach. In this collection, co-founders Hoang Anh and Hoang Tu highlight traditional Vietnamese craftsmanship. “I’ve spent years traveling to various traditional fine-craft villages all over Vietnam to learn their techniques. Now, I apply those skills to my designs so others can appreciate them too,” says Hoang Tu.
But in fact, Hoang Tu and Hoang Anh didn’t explicitly intend to make a sustainable Vietnamese fashion brand. “We didn’t even know that the term “sustainable” existed in fashion. We just decided to use natural fabrics because we care about the environment,” explains Hoang Anh. And in their local factory, they pay fair wages to their employees and maintain safe, sanitary working conditions. Even their leftover fabric is used to make small accessories like bags, earrings, and bracelets that are sold in the store.
Linda’s insights: “I like the timeless style. And it’s a good idea to source 100% linen fabric from markets. Often, the fabrics are leftovers from textile factories, so they can be high-quality. I see it as upcycling—using leftover fabrics to make new designs.”
Founded in 2011, the high-end Vietnamese fashion brand Metiseko’s concept is all in the name. “In French, ‘metis’ or ‘metissage’ is used to describe something that is a combination of two different cultures,” Erwan Perzo explains.
Metiseko’s co-founder and general director Erwan Perzo was “raised in a household with Vietnamese and French cultures” so he wanted to mix both those elements in Metiseko’s designs. “We wanted to create a 100% environmentally and socially responsible brand made with high-end fabrics and production and distribution all in the same country,” Erwan adds.
For Florence, the company’s other co-founder, Metiseko’s mission to promote sustainable practices in the fashion industry is personal. “I love fashion and I want to continue to express our world through it. So, we need to limit its negative impact on the environment and humans.”
Linda’s Insights:: “I actually studied with Florence in Paris and designed for Metiseko. I’ve been following the brand from the very beginning.”
“I really like that they respect Vietnamese culture in every collection by sourcing their silk locally and by taking inspiration from Vietnam. They respect every single person in their production chain—for example, they have always worked with the same printer because they really want to support his business. They definitely have a holistic approach to sustainability.”
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Locations: Mitseko’s organic cotton store is at 157 Dong Khoi, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, their Mulberry silk store at 101 Dong Khoi, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, and four other locations in Vietnam
Moi Dien, which translates as “outspoken,” boasts a loud, daring unisex style. Through his Vietnamese fashion brand, founder Tom Trandt wants people to not be afraid to stand out and embrace their identities. While he’s defying gender stereotypes, he’s also promoting environmental consciousness. “Anyone can wear the clothes that I design and I only make them with natural fabrics,” explains Tom.
After receiving his degree from Parsons School of Design, Tom knew that he wanted to establish his own Vietnamese fashion brand with bold designs and with sustainable practices. In fact, the designer has embraced ethical fashion ideals since his undergraduate years after realizing that the fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to pollution in the world. “There’s mass production of fabrics that contain toxic chemicals that eventually end up in landfills,” explains Tom, “it’s unethical and unsustainable.”
The Moi Dien Ba Gang tote bag launched in March is a prime example of Tom’s dedication to provide sustainable solutions to problems in the fashion sphere. Tom positions his sturdy tote bag, made of linen and canvas, as an alternative to leather bags.
In addition, Tom is taking other steps to reduce his own brand’s environmental impact. He reduces waste by using leftover fabric to make accessories and has plans to use canvas to package his products instead of paper packaging.
Linda’s Insights: “I like the central idea of encouraging people to be different. Fashion should be expressive. Also, I think making unisex clothes is another way to be sustainable—you and your boyfriend can share clothes!”
Rustea is a minimalist, free-size clothing brand for those who want to be cozy and comfortable. “I want people to feel cozy in the clothes like when you sip a hot cup of tea,” founder Jo Lam explains about the concept behind the Vietnamese fashion brand.
Through her brand, Jo wants to make life simpler for people and reduce waste in the fashion industry. “We all have days when we just don’t know what to wear. We feel overwhelmed by the options in our wardrobe, none of which seem wearable. But basic pieces never fail us—they are long-lasting. And they’re sustainable,” explains Jo.
Although Rustea’s pieces are simple, Jo still encourages customers to style pieces however they want. “They don’t have to wear the clothes the way we think they should. I style the collared shirt, my favorite piece, with pants, dresses, and even skirts, but everyone is different” Jo explains.
For every collection, the core philosophy is the use of 100% natural fabrics. “That’s what makes a fashion brand sustainable,” Jo explains. “When you mix natural fabrics with synthetic ones, the brand is no longer sustainable.” In addition, whether it’s cotton, silk, or linen, Jo makes sure to maximize the use of fabrics by precisely mapping the best way to cut out the clothes. With the small quantities of leftover fabric, she makes small accessories like wallets and passport covers.
Linda’s Insights: “I like Rustea’s use of natural fabrics since they’re better for the environment than synthetic ones. Sustainability can also be incorporated in other aspects of the production since the origin of the fabrics isn’t known.”