Do you follow Andrea Cheong on Instagram or TikTok? If you don't, you should! She has become the trusted and approachable authority in an arena that many find daunting to step into: sustainable fashion. Breaking it down into bitesize pieces of information one can easily digest and use for more sensible shopping tactics in the future, Andrea's Mindful Monday Method is an absolute must-view if you want to be a more conscious consumer of fashion. With her wealth of knowledge and very good taste, it's no wonder we had to knock on her virtual door. Join Andrea each Friday on Who What Wear UK's TikTok channel (@whowhatwear.uk) where she'll be dissecting the latest trends and shopping phenomena. First up though? Her tips for a more sustainable Lunar New Year…
Photo:@andreacheong_ / Alise Jane
Today, much to the chagrin of our bank accounts, purchasing clothes is just a double-click and Face Recognition away. However, in ancient times where it would take days if not weeks to create a garment, families would make or buy a whole new "wardrobe" for the Spring Festival. When it comes to respecting tradition of Chinese New Year but being a conscious consumer, I recommend investing in a single piece that can take you beyond the festive season.
Photo:@andreacheong_ / Alise Jane
These are my top five consciously curated items for the Lunar New Year…
1. REFORMATION ISAAC DRESS
Photo:Courtesy of Reformation
Romantic silhouettes and draping are both on their way back for 2022. I love Reformation’s minimal take on this with this organic cotton dress. And in case you didn’t already know, Chinese New Year is all about symbolism. The red poplin number is a firm nod to the colour of luck and good fortune. The best part? The back is shirred, leaving ample room for all those food-oriented celebrations. And trust me, there will be plenty of those.
Why it’s a sustainable buy: It’s versatile and timeless but importantly, made of an ecological material. Organic cotton ensures that no pesticides (sometimes fossil fuel based) or GMO seeds are used, which keeps soil healthy and fertile for future crops. It also uses much less water than regular cotton as it primarily relies on rainwater.
2. MISSOMA SPHERE RIDGE RING
2022 is the Year of the Tiger, one of the 12 zodiac signs. A subtle yet chic option is to go for tiger’s eye jewellery. I love vintage-inspired pieces and Missoma’s gold plated signet ring is an easy way to invest in a New Year item that is wearable every day afterward.
Why it’s a sustainable buy: There’s a difference between “sustainable brands” and a “sustainable buy.” The latter is versatile, something that lasts and provides value. If this is your style, then I think it ticks all those boxes!
3. SELF-PORTRAIT RED STRIPE KNIT DRESS
I’ve had my eye on Self-Portrait’s Lunar New Year Capsule ever since I caught sight of the diamanté bow-detailed cotton dress in the collection. But in my eyes, the true winner is this deep-red knit dress. It’s a subtle interpretation of the traditional qipao, also known as a cheongsam, most recognisable by its mandarin collar and asymmetrical line of buttons. This is a dress I love because it translates well beyond this season and best of all, it’s going to keep you warm.
Why it’s a sustainable buy: It may come as a surprise but many boucle-style items on the market are actually made of synthetics and not majority wool-based! It’s also blended with 32% cotton, which is breathable and makes the yarn more comfortable on bare skin. I advocate as much natural fibre as possible and as a long-term fan of Self-Portrait, I feel the quality is consistently on par with its price point.
4. HOUSE OF DAGMAR LEA JUMPER
Photo:Courtesy of House of Dagmar
House of Dagmar is a luxury Swedish label rooted in sustainable practices. In 2020, the brand claims to have 90% of its collection listed as “Good Choice,” which means they are responsibly sourced or natural and environmentally friendly (not always the same thing). I love this thick cardigan with its black bijoux buttons, it makes the piece look even more expensive than it is. It’s a wonderful statement item that can dress up a pair of jeans or be thrown on over a slip dress.
Why it’s a sustainable buy: If there’s one thing I’m obsessed with, it’s checking the care labels for material composition. This is 100% recycled extra-fine wool and I could not be more thrilled about it - plus it’s no more expensive than any other designer knitwear and arguably more responsible. Recycled natural fibres are always preferable, as it reduces waste and the amount of virgin material required to make a garment.
5. MONICA VINADER DEIA HOOPS
Photo:Courtesy of Monica Vinader
You can never go wrong with hoop earrings and these are *chefs kiss.* Gold is another “colour” associated with Lunar New Year and signifies fortune. Monica Vinader’s pair is in gold vermeil, which is gold layered on silver. Whereas plated jewellery uses a base of copper or brass, which is generally less expensive to produce. The term “vermeil” is also regulated, meaning that a jeweller needs to use 2.5 microns of gold (the measurement of thickness) to qualify.
Why it’s a sustainable buy: Monica Vinader is part of the Responsible Jewellery Council, which audits every part of the supply chain. One of the largest issues with the fashion brands is its complex and entangled “behind the scenes.” So an accreditation like this really holds weight. This premium jewellery label also has consumer-first practices, like a five-year warranty on all its products.
Watch Andrea talk through her choices below…