Myanmar is not spared when it comes to the issue of fast fashion. High-volume production and consumption of clothes made and sold cheaply – and discarded quickly – results in a heavy toll for the planet and its resources. Well, we won’t stop wearing clothes (just yet, or at least not in public!) So what to do? One of the opportunities for sustainable fashion lies in design: design local, design light.
Urban Rangoon, a local design brand established two years ago by 32-year-old Thet Wint Su, is a forerunner in the battle against fast fashion. A fashion designer by training, Thet Su fulfilled a decade-long dream by establishing her ready-to-wear brand inspired by Myanmar patterns and fabrics. It has not been a smooth path, and there are many obstacles to overcome: a limited amount of quality suppliers, and rampant competition from cheap, imported, brands. However, the brand has become a classic wardrobe staple of Yangon’s fashionistas.
Designing light is focused on the resources involved in production and consumption. Reflecting Thet Su’s commitment to environmentally-friendly practices, Urban Rangoon’s pieces are made from 100% Myanmar cotton, grown in a region near Mandalay. Likewise, they rely on locally-made natural dyes for most of their items. With the objective of keeping the supply chain as well as the profits from sales within Myanmar, they use local suppliers and provide housing and training for their group of tailors. “I want Myanmar people to value, cherish and appreciate our own local products,” says Thet Su bashfully.
Urban Rangoon’s designs appeal to a broad public of both locals and expats. With collections for both men and women, the cotton pieces are easy to wear, flattering, and breathable. The natural dyes give the collection an earthy, neutral, and warm color palette; and the designs are cut simply, emphasizing the rich textures of the natural materials. This is the opposite of mass-produced clothing: each collection is limited, meaning that they only produce 20 to 30 pieces of each design, focusing on high quality rather than quantity.
You can find Urban Rangoon’s showroom at the Beauty Boutique in Kan Road, Hlaing Township, at Inle Heritage Hotel, or at the popular Makers Market.