GOOD KRAMA: SUSTAINABLY BOLD, RESPONSIBLY MADE.

By September 14, 2018Designer, Pause pop-up

Here is our inspiring talk with Katia, the founder behind ethical fashion brand GOOD KRAMA, an ethically conscious fashion label inspired by Cambodia’s most versatile textile: The krama

They make their clothes from two different types of materials: Cambodian hand woven silk or cotton fabric and Upcycled materials from fabric remnants of local garment factories.
Read on to find out what we love about this Cambodian conscious brand!

What first sparked your interest in sustainable fashion creations? Tell us more about the story of your brand and its mission.

While travelling through Cambodia three years ago, I was exposed for the first time to the manufacturing side of the fashion industry. I would see the trucks full of garment workers coming and going to the hundreds of factories that border the main roads. I learned that over 700 000 Cambodians work in garment manufacturing and that 91% of them are women with salaries that fall below a living wage. I discovered that billions of dollars of clothing and shoes are exported from Cambodia every year, which accounts for 95% of the country’s exports. I discovered an entire ecosystem of leftover fabric traded and re-sold by the kilo in giant warehouses due to massive waste and surplus – I saw the enormity of the fashion industry’s impact on the environment.

GOOD KRAMA came to life two years ago as an alternative to fast fashion in the land where fast fashion clothing is born – we created a brand that feels and does good both locally and abroad all the while shedding light from this perspective of the industry. At GOOD KRAMA, we design and manufacture ready-to-wear garments for women and men by blending traditional weaving techniques with modern design. We partnered with like-minded social enterprises and weaving communities to ensure high-quality fabrics, socially responsible manufacturing, and sustainable consciousness. Our story remains transparent, from the makers behind the garments we make to the footprint and eco-impact we generate with each collection. We continuously research new sustainable alternatives and have since developed a closed-loop system to remain a zero waste brand.

Which are your main sources of inspiration?

As an environmental economist by trade, my passion has always been deeply rooted in the environment and its preservation. With the ever-accelerating climate change, I want to provide affordable alternatives to a consumer good that is and will always remain in high demand. We all know that being naked is the number one sustainable choice but we get dressed every day! With this in mind, I want to reinforce the idea that consumers have the power to wear their values and that each purchase does make a difference. This is actually where our Eco Impact tracking system comes in. Too often I have heard individuals say that their efforts won’t single headedly have an impact on a larger scale. Using terms like “sustainable” and “ethical” fashion is great, but needing out with data to back it up is even better. We believe in the data and how understanding the savings you make with each GOOD KRAMA purchase can really empower an individual to make better choices. From a purely designer perspective, our inspiration comes from various mediums, whether it’s an architectural project, a painting or a photograph. We also take a lot of inspiration from our surroundings in Cambodia. In just a couple of years, we have seen the city of Phnom Penh changing rapidly in this organized chaos.

Our Fall/Winter 2018 collection [coming soon] is entitled Building Blocks and takes its inspiration from the constant destruction and rebirth of plots of lands. Older buildings are torn down to make room for newer ones and construction sites are everywhere. The city is literally growing before our eyes as it is modernizing and becoming an increasingly stimulated economy in South East Asia. Through this collection, we want to reinforce the foundations of what GOOD KRAMA is about – blending artisanal luxury with relevant designs and showing that they are not mutually exclusive

What’s your relationship with ever-changing fashion trends?

I think it’s exhausting! There is a very complex system that has been culturally engraved in our consumer minds for generations now. This system thrives on convincing us to buy things we don’t need in order to get closer to an unattainable idea of perfection. When you study trends over time, you realize that they are actually cyclical. Inspirations from the past are slightly reworked and repackaged in a new product and marketed as the “must-have” of the season. Fashion in its purest form is a form of art that follows no rules or trends.

As a ready-to-wear brand, we embrace that same mentality of creativity, which is guided by our social and ecological values. This leads us to create beautiful and original designs that are practical for daily life but also break away from classic basics – because everyone already owns a plain white t-shirt.

Taking into account that you are a creator that works with challenges every day, what’s in your opinion the biggest challenge of the fashion industry today?

From my understanding, it comes down to two things: education and legislation. These are issues that are complex and can have a domino effect in various aspects of the production chain globally. I believe education is not only the acquisition of knowledge, but it also provides the tools for individuals to develop their critical thinking which leads them to become more politically active. Having access to education helps both garment workers to know their rights as well as consumers to ask the right questions and demand more transparency in the products they are sold. The legislation is the other side of the coin and helps create accountability for fashion industry players: from labour laws protecting garment workers to environmental regulations holding fashion industry players accountable for their poor practices.

What is your personal view of fast fashion? Do you feel that the industry as a whole is falling a bit behind if comparing to sustainable fashion?

In the spirit of radical transparency, I will say that I have been that fast fashion consumer that craves the latest trends and values quantity over quality. I have also realized over time that all this money spent on poor quality items has actually been of a disservice to my bank account and to my closet. I started investing in higher quality items that I know will last me a lifetime. I also started taking better care of my garments and diving into my styling creativity rather than following trends blindly. I am aware that there are an accessibility and purchasing power disparity between fast fashion brands and sustainable alternatives. In our own way, GOOD KRAMA is looking to democratize eco fair fashion by keeping the quality and originality high and the prices relatively accessible. Transitioning away from fast fashion is a gradual process and its okay to ease into it. We’re not here to point fingers but rather to propose aesthetically pleasing solutions! No habits are formed overnight and the same holds true in this case so we invite our customers to discover our world and join our journey!

Virtually all major clothing companies have a work in progress in the field of sustainability. What makes your brand stand out?

GOOD KRAMA is radically transparent in its communication with regards to all aspects of our production process. This comes all the way down to the ecological footprint and impact we generate with each garment. While this is innovative for the industry, we also go way back to basics by creating collections that blend artisanal luxury with relevant designs for the modern women and men. This perhaps carries a hint of nostalgia towards fashion as it used to be. In today’s technological world, many of these crafts are being lost and these communities become financially isolated as a result – This is our way of preserving these techniques that take a lifetime to master and generations to carry. GOOD KRAMA also brings a poetic aspect to ready-to-wear fashion with regards to its upcycled fabric sourcing. Working with upcycled fabrics means that the volumes found of a particular fabric are limited: once that fabric is gone, that exact GOOD KRAMA style will never be made again! There is a sense of uniqueness and individuality in knowing that you possess a garment that only exists in a limited series.

What does the future hold for GOOD KRAMA? Any plans you could share with us?

We worked really hard to put in place a reliable and high-quality supply chain in Cambodia. We’re now ready to scale our business and reach a larger audience worldwide. We’re entering the wholesale market this quarter in the hopes of making GOOD KRAMA accessible on various continents around the world from independent boutiques to larger concept stores. The time to democratize eco fair fashion is now and we’re bringing you garments made differently – from Cambodia, with love.

What does the future hold for GOOD KRAMA? Any plans you could share with us?

We worked really hard to put in place a reliable and high-quality supply chain in Cambodia. We’re now ready to scale our business and reach a larger audience worldwide. We’re entering the wholesale market this quarter in the hopes of making GOOD KRAMA accessible on various continents around the world from independent boutiques to larger concept stores. The time to democratize eco fair fashion is now and we’re bringing you garments made differently – from Cambodia, with love.

Author Leticia Bordoni

Leticia Bordoni is the co-founder of P A U S E FASHION HUB.

More posts by Leticia Bordoni

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