Etrican

Etrican, whose clothes are made from organic cotton, was founded by Mr Dragos Necula and Ms Yumiko Uno.
Etrican, whose clothes are made from organic cotton, was founded by Mr Dragos Necula and Ms Yumiko Uno.ST PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR

Singapore-based fashion label Etrican considers ethical practices such a selling point, its name is a combination of the words "ethical" and "intricate".

Its clothes are made from only organic cotton, grown without chemical fertilisers and pesticides which can kill small animals nearby such as bugs, birds and squirrels.

Such cotton takes less energy and water to produce than non-organic cotton, and growing it also produces about 94 per cent less greenhouse gas.

The clothes are made in a small factory in India, which ensures fair pay and working hours, as well as safe working conditions for its workers.

Used print dye is not discarded into rivers or disposed of, but sent to a facility to be recycled.

The brand was started here in 2009 by Mr Dragos Necula, a Romanian, and Ms Yumiko Uno, who is Japanese.

Its clothes are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard organisation, which lays out rules for ecological and socially responsible textile production.

Ms Uno, 35, who is also the brand's designer, says: "We started this label because we didn't like what much of the fashion industry stands for today - with its compulsion to maximise profit at the expense of factory workers and the environment.

"We want to look good and also feel comfortable doing so."

The two met while studying at Leeds University in Britain in 2004. Ms Uno, who has a master's in development studies, moved to Tokyo after graduation to work for People Tree, a Britain-based ethical and organic fashion brand.

She says: "There, I learnt there is so much pollution caused by the fashion industry. I wanted to contribute towards a positive change within the industry."

In 2009, the business partners moved here to start the company, to reduce the brand's carbon footprint, since many eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton are produced in Asia.

Their clothes are sold at the Time After Time shop in Haji Lane and online at www.etrican.com, with a V-necked dress going for $42 and a blue striped flower dress for $69. They also launched a line for babies six months ago.

Over the years, sales have increased steadily by 20 per cent year on year.

Most of their customers are women in their mid-20s to mid- 30s. Etrican's products are also available at shops in the United States, Japan and Australia.

One challenge the brand faces is that organic cotton is 20 to 30 per cent more expensive than regular cotton.

Mr Necula, 34, who is in charge of business development, says: "Basically, this means we have less of a profit margin, but we are fine with this because we are contributing to positive change and protecting the environment."

Benson Ang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2016, with the headline 'Etrican'. Print Edition | Subscribe