Cover Kualesa is a stylish and sustainable solution to fast fashion

Tatler sits down with Ariff Faisal and Haris Kamal to talk about their mission to make everyday clothes stylish and sustainable

Launched in August, Kualesa is a homegrown apparel company that is turning away from cotton and synthetic materials, such as nylon and polyester, which significantly contribute to water pollution and can sit in landfills for up to 200 years. Instead, they use bamboo lyocell, an eco-friendly and biodegradable alternative from one of the most abundant and fastest-growing plants on the planet.

Offering a core selection of lightweight polo shirts designed for every occasion, from sport to casual hangouts, Kualesa has also released a similarly versatile collection which pays tribute to Southeast Asian batik with three traditional motifs: Kawung, Parang and Truntum.

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What sparked your interest in sustainable textiles?

Ariff Faisal (AF): In recent years, the eco-conscious side of me woke up. I went snorkelling one day and I saw the entire coral reef completely dead, and that really struck me hard. I discovered the damage synthetic fibres (the favoured textile of the apparel industry) were doing to the environment. Only when I looked closely through my wardrobe did I realise how many 100 per cent polyester pieces of clothing I had. My moral compass went into overdrive and I dove headfirst into the world of sustainable textiles, which is when I discovered the functional applications of bamboo fabric.

After unearthing bamboo’s fantastic attributes, it shed light on the potential of building a company that did things a little differently and had a conscience of its own.

See also: Paul&Shark, Fashion's Innovative Champion of Sustainability, Opens New Store In The Starhill, KL

When did you decide to work together to make Kualesa a reality?

AF: I've had the aspiration to build my own brand since I was really young. After I left the corporate world, I wanted to find something with real meaning and purpose behind it. With all those factors, I started to work on Kualesa. My first step was to convince my best friend, Haris, to join forces with me as a co-founder. Haris and I met in school about 15 years ago and we have been best buds ever since. We bonded through football, music and video games (and still do today!).

Together, we began developing a product that, first and foremost, our friends would love—we knew they all had the same unsustainable, 100 per cent polyester wardrobe.

Haris Kamal (HK): Kualesa started as a small seed of an idea, with big ambition and an even bigger purpose. Our mission is to empower consumers to make sustainable product choices without the trade-off of comfort or design. We have also committed to planting one tree in Southeast Asian rainforests with every purchase, allowing us to offset emissions and reinstate biodiversity. Knowing that every purchase leaves a net positive impact on the planet and our customers is what drives us every day.

See also: CK Chang of Oxwhite on Committing To Sustainable Fashion During A Pandemic

What has been your favourite part about working together?

AF: Definitely bringing the team together. I’ve always enjoyed being a part of a team so building one from scratch was a really great experience and looking at how the team has come already really brings me a lot of joy. I’ve also really enjoyed exercising the creative side of my brain (which I haven’t really done much of previously) when overseeing the marketing side of our business.

HK: Likewise for me, my favourite part has been working with like-minded people who have made running a business much more exciting. Being able to work with people of the same wavelength has definitely made it an enjoyable journey.

 

Have you always been interested in fashion or style?

HK: Neither of us have any real qualifications in design or fashion but we do think looking good makes you feel good. We’ve always appreciated a great tee, great trousers, and great shoes so yes—I guess we’ve always been interested in style!

See also: How To Style Batik For Every Occasion

What is your favorite way to style your Kualesa polo shirts?

AF: I love pairing our polos with basic white shorts. It works well for tennis, golf, and casual outdoor outings.

HK: On a hot sunny day, I would wear my Kualesa polo with a pair of smart shorts. On a night out, I would pair my top with some jeans and trainers.

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