Sublime: How important is empowering women and how have you been able to achieve this with Jung?
Mo Jian Yung: We are surprised that what we do is seen as empowering! What we are attempting is to solve daily problems, especially those faced by nursing mothers.
Our society as a whole has progressed much to enable our species to thrive. Things like building intricate transport systems, sending someone to space, recognizing human rights. Surely, we can make nursing in public easier for mothers!
As a woman, you can dress or look however you like, and people will still stare or ogle. It is not a choice. So, by designing nursing covers into our clothing, we hope to provide this little safe haven where mothers can nurse freely without fumbling with additional nursing cloth while still maintaining that little privacy among mothers and babies.
S: What are your brand values and how important are these?
MJY: For us it is always to minimise waste & our impact. As the purveyor, our responsibility doesn’t end the minute our products leave the shelves. What happens to your product after that (a potential waste) matters just as much.
There are so many sustainable products out there, but if our consumption habits don't change, nothing helps. Whatever is happening to our environment now reflects how we consume.
We are buying more clothes than our parents’ generation, we eat more and so as our food waste. While we enjoy this lifestyle of abundance, we are bleeding our own planet’s finite resources.
Changing mindset is always the hardest. But by designing long lasting clothing that adapts to the changes on our body, we are hoping to inspire a change of habits. And of course, for our products to stay out of landfills.
S: How did you find out about eco-textiles and why have you decided to incorporate these materials in your clothing?
MJY: When we first decided to start this label, it had to be sustainable or nothing. So naturally eco-textiles become our main criteria when it comes to deciding what material to use for the collection. And also, who doesn’t love a skirt made out of pineapple or lemongrass!
In terms of why, it really ties into our initial brand value of wanting to create as little waste as possible. These eco-textiles we found were made from discarded inedible agricultural by-products.
That means we are not just repurposing resources that will otherwise go to waste, that also means we are not using additional resources like land & water to grow the plants for our textiles. Those agricultural discards were also sourced directly from local farmers, so in many ways that seems like the most ideal choice.
S: You also choose to use deadstock materials, could you explain the pros and cons of this?
MJY: The beauty for deadstock is, you’re not using additional resources to produce your fabrics which means you have a very low carbon footprint. You’re also saving these precious materials from going into waste. The cons, deadstock materials are very limiting in terms of fabric designs & quantity.
We had a very different vision of how we want our collection to look but given the choices on hand we ended up designing around the characteristics of the fabric, like customising a look for it. We also can’t offer a more inclusive sizing range as the fabric doesn’t yield much. Moving on we will offer an option to preorder so everyone could have a piece of Jung in their closet.
S: What has been the most rewarding aspects of creating Jung so far?
MJY: The minute someone tells us as nursing mothers they understand what we are doing and that our work speaks volumes to them. It was like finding soulmate in a sea of strangers.
S: How do you utilise social media to spread awareness about the climate crisis?
MJY: We try to create balanced content. The internet is a very noisy place now. As much as we would love more people to be more aware of the climate crisis, we don’t think people like to be told to consume less all the time.
For us our message has always been consistent, it is not the fast fashion brands to be blamed. We as consumers collectively made Zara’s owner one of the richest men on earth, we are just as responsible.
S: What makes Jung different compared to other ‘practical/functional’ clothing brands?
MJY: To be honest we haven’t seen other practical/ functional clothing brands that are sustainable or like our kind. The closest functional alternative would be sportswear which is entirely different.
So, to compare to other sustainable clothing brands, we definitely haven’t seen any that prioritises the wearability/ function of the garments, especially not one that’s designed for you to buy less.
It is still business at the end of the day, the materials and practices could be all green, but sustainable clothing brands still want you to buy their clothes. That’s perhaps the one thing the fashion industry will never change.
All garments in our collection have an adjustable waist. Only one of our designs uses an elastic band for the flexible waist whilst the rest are done by using a multiple buttoning system which you could also resew, so the pieces fit you perfectly. To do this it requires more complex pattern drafting & sewing.
We don't use elastic bands exclusively and claim it to have a flexible waist as this is a common practice in the fashion industry already.
S: How does your capsule collection provide outfits suitable for every occasion?
MJY: As usual, designed with conscious consumption in mind, we think of what the collection should be if they are the only clothes we wear.
So, we designed something casual for the day out, a lightweight sweater for the chiller days, some casual elegant dress for the night out, some work-appropriate pieces, especially the iconic white shirt - that will always be our wardrobe staple.
S: What technique do you use to dye your materials without contributing to the large amount of water this process would usually waste?
MJY: We don’t manufacture any of our materials so we can’t explain exactly the methods our supplier used. We do however do a little bit of natural dyeing in house (R&D, not sure if this will be available on our platform in near future), so we can tell you it does use a large amount of water, mostly from washing the dye residue off. The less morbid side is you can be sure the water discarded is completely safe as compared to chemical dyeing.
S: Could you tell us about the work you do with One Tree Planted and why it is crucial people pay an interest to carbon offsetting?
MJY: As you know we are still a young and a small business, we are far from perfect compared to other established brands. For example, we couldn't source eco-friendly zippers and interfacings. Building a fully sustainable or biodegradable garment from its fabrics to the sewing threads and trimmings are highly expensive, and the cost reflects back onto the customers.
Affordability is still a major reason why more people aren't embracing sustainable clothing. To answer the doubt you might have, yes most sustainable brands don't use eco-friendly trimmings either. They will tell you their garments are biodegradable but separate the buttons and zippers before you compost them.
What we couldn't fulfil ourselves we try to make up for in other aspects. When we first came across One Tree Planted and their planting program, we thought this is the answer for us.
So, we started doing '1 tree for 1 purchase' on our platform through them, we also make it an option for our customers to opt-in for an additional tree. It is definitely important for businesses to invest in carbon offsetting.
You can be a sustainable business that does everything right, but as long as you are making something, there's bound to be a carbon trail. Right now, carbon offsetting seems to be the only answer. But we could all use a few more trees.
S: What visions do you have for the future of Jung?
MJY: Our plan for the future is to discover more innovative zero waste materials to work with. And also, to be more involved and give back to the local communities, like offering free sewing classes to the less privileged.