Being stylish is at the very core of being a Preview girl. Still, our penchant for fashion does not mean we care any less about the environment. This is why we champion conscientious brands and other environmental efforts that promote sustainability. However, the eco-friendly movement is sometimes given a negative connotation, being perceived as something that's unhygienic. This is where 27-year-old ex-photographer Monica Vivar steps in.
Monica established Denuo, an online brand that is committed to upcycling ukay-ukay clothes, proving that recycled clothes can actually be your very own fashion statement. In an exclusive interview with Preview, we talk to Monica about sustainable fashion and how your wardrobe can be eco-friendly, too.
1. You’re the founder of Denuo. How did this project come about and what's the story behind its name?
"Denuo is now headed by me, as the Chief Brand Director, and Alex Lizares, as the Chief Merchandiser. The brand started in 2012 as an online blog in appreciation of reclaimed clothing and a platform for up-and-coming local brands. By 2015, the brand and its founders matured in purpose through the transformation of Denuo into an eco-conscious lifestyle brand. [It focuses] on honest and sustainable retail means to minimize consumer waste and mindfully provide accessible, affordable, and quality products. Denuo is a Latin word meaning 'anew,' encompassing our unique business and design philosophy towards our products and services."
2. Why did you decide to thrift and upcycle clothes?
"The initial appeal was the uniqueness you can only find in thrift and vintage, as well as its price point. But, coming from genuine intent, putting together a reclaimed and vintage collection provided an option where garments from, or headed for, waste disposal and had little to no value are recirculated into the retail cycle. In our view, our Itangi collection is the quintessential representation of what we hope to provide our clients; unique products that are time-tested and/or timeless in its design while relevantly playing a responsible role in our time."
3. Where do you source the clothes? How do you revive them?
"Our Itangi collection pieces are sourced from various ukay-ukay hubs all around the Philippines, garage sales, and people's closets! We are so (madly) driven by the suspense of possibly finding an amazing piece. We value the craftsmanship and the artistry put into garment making and design—so much so that it has driven this brand to take on the challenge of proving eco-conscious fashion retail can be done well, responsibly, and stylishly. Reviving the pieces is simple—we give the garments TLC! We ensure that the garments are in great condition and presented to our clients with style, treating them as valuable fashion pieces without the negative perceptions associated with second-hand clothing."
4. Why do you think eco-conscious living is important, if not relevant in today’s generation?
"I think eco-conscious living is a non-negotiable that we all need to practice today. It's not a black and white lifestyle that we all need to adhere to in order to 'do it right,' but rather a community of resources that allow you to take control and [have the] responsibility to live your life with awareness. Not acknowledging its power in improving our living conditions will not only slow down our collective progress as a nation/humanity, but leave an individual living a life only meant for himself and the past.
"We've developed our own interpretation of eco-conscious fashion, which anchors Denuo on a course of integrity. Eco-conscious fashion is a philosophy driven by mindfulness of self-expression and lifestyle. Fashion is a beautiful tool to bridge individualism and character onto tangible visual style and for us, incorporating realities of our time, it is imperative that retail practices be made ever more meaningful by including and emphasizing the significant impact garments or items have on the environment, community, and even metaphysical aspects of today. Our philosophy focuses on mindful practices that are considerate of environmental impacts, compassionate ethical labour, laborious quality control, charitable profit sharing, and an incorporation of art and design appreciation onto both our products and services."
5. Aside from responsible fashion, what other environmental projects have you involved yourself in?
"My lifestyle has become my most cherished practice. It has become a means for me to develop genuine intent towards becoming completely zero waste and also impacts my efforts towards indigent senior aid, eco-brick practice, animal aid, and community clean up efforts."
Intrigued on what you can do for the environment but don't know how and where to start? Monica lists three simple ways you can take part in eco-conscious living:
"Take a look at your buying habits, what you need, and the things you want. Why do you do, want, or need them?"
"Knowing you're capable of achieving the same, and even more with less, is very empowering. Repurpose what you have into something you need (an empty food jar into a cup or container) or lessen your intake—excessive buying of unnecessary items (especially non-biodegradable things)."
"Buy things that mean a lot to you, buy from companies and people who respect you and your individuality, and take care of your body with natural products."