Cover Photo credit: Real.m

The women behind homegrown Malaysian brands Little, Real.m and UNPLUG collaborated to address the worrying state of fashion waste within the nation. The solution: A zero waste capsule collection called IVORY 2.0, created from leftover fabric collected over the years.

Fast fashion has been perceived as a setback to the growing landfill of unsold clothes that are fated for incineration. This prompted slow fashion to surface, a term coined by author Kate Fletcher as an approach to sustainable designs.  

This year the lifestyle brand Real.m, with its principle of slow fashion, partnered with designer Xe Linn to create a capsule collection that's available at the conscious select store UNPLUG in Bangsar Village 2.

We spoke with designer and founder of Little; Xe Linn, the co-founder of Real.m; Najmia Z and the co-founder of UNPLUG Atiyya Zulkarnain on how Ivory 2.0 endeavours to curb the setbacks of fashion waste. 

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What is zero waste fashion to you?

Xe Linn: Zero waste fashion is about creating new designs without contributing to the landfills. It is a strategy to solve textile waste in the fashion industry.

Najmia Z: Refusing and reducing any form of waste from the way we produce and consume clothes. Being innovative in reusing and recycling waste from production. Clothes should not be thrown in the landfills or kept unused. 

Atiyya Zulkarnain: Incorporating zero waste practices from design to the materials used: first, the pattern cutting leaving minimal to zero wastage, second, timeless designs to avoid “out of trend” pieces and third, materials from upcycled, eco-friendly materials. 

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How did the zero waste capsule collection, Ivory 2.0 came about?

XL: Najmia got in touch with me over Instagram after seeing the info graphics about Little. Little specialises in zero waste pattern cutting and Real.m needed help solving their issue with piling scraps from their previous collection. So we collaborated.

NZ: At Real.m, we had about 32.3kg of scrap fabric from our previous capsule collection, IVORY.  It’s expensive and quality material we did not want to throw, and so we repurposed them back into new designs.

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What is the issue on fashion waste in Malaysia?

XL: The fast fashion industry is huge in Malaysia. Fast fashion creates a lot of negative environmental impacts such as water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals and the increase of textile waste.

NZ: It is estimated that Malaysia produces almost 2,000 tonnes of textile waste a day!

AZ: Malaysia is fast on picking up trends. It is the same when things go out of trend. This leads to over consumption on mass produced goods. It is only recently that people are getting into replacing plastic straws with stainless steel ones and I believe that it is because of the buzz that has been going around. I think, in general, Malaysia is still behind and slow with recycling/upcycling. A lot of people still do not know what to do with their clothing and only a small majority goes to donations or recycling companies.

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How would zero waste fashion revolutionise the fashion industry in Malaysia?

XL: With this collection, we are not expecting to revolutionise the fashion community. However, we aim to show that there is a cleaner way to create new designs.

NZ: The approach is one of the ways forward in reducing negative outputs to people and the environment. Put an end to modern slavery, pollution and waste. Consumption behaviour needs to change towards mindful purchases and not based purely on trends and price.

AZ: If practiced properly, I believe we would minimise a large amount of wastage and reduce pollution that is caused by fast fashion industries. Even if the fashion industry does not follow it completely, it is better by implementing some practices rather than none.

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How do you overcome skepticism on zero waste fashion and its impact to the environment?

XL: We are transparent about how our zero waste designs are made and the way we manage textile waste. If nothing is going to the landfills, we must be on the right path in reducing the impact to our environment.

NZ: Unfortunately, there is no auditing system for now and we are a small business.  But we welcome communication and dialogue with our customers.

AZ: I think people find it more difficult than it actually is (to practice zero waste/conscious lifestyle) and a lot of people still lack the true awareness of the impact that it has on the environment. That if they do it, they would be the minority and that it probably would not even make a difference at all. I think to overcome it is to actually look into it and learn more about it. That is why we created UNPLUG, we are more than just a retail space but a space for people to learn about conscious living and the full cycle.

Visit to know more about zero waste fashion and the Ivory 2.0 collection.