Is Baliza closed?

Yes. Unfortunately, this sustainable fashion brand has ceased operations since 2022.

However, if you’d like to learn more about the brand anyway, we’ve kept our featured article of the brand below.

Baliza — What does sustainable fashion really mean?

“A social enterprise, not a fashion brand.”

Initiated in 1962, sustainable fashion is a movement to cultivate greater ecological integrity and social justice in the fashion industry.

To better understand this, we sat down with Madhumita Goswami, the Singapore Brand Manager of Baliza to understand the working process of a sustainable fashion brand.

Photo: Baliza

The birth of Baliza

When Gema Santander, founder of Baliza moved to Singapore, she joined a few groups of women who were supporting different causes. Through this, she met the ladies that run Street Child Project, the support group of the NGO i-India in Singapore. They asked Gema for feedback on their products sold at fairs- blankets and cushions, which were decorated with beautiful stitchings and pompoms.

Inspired, she thought she wanted to help them improve their products and create new designs that were suitable for Singapore’s context so that the artisans could have better prospects.

Meaning ‘Beloved Daughter’, Ladli, is the vocational arm of non-governmental organization (NGO) I-India. The NGO provides care for children living on the streets of Jaipur and provides jobs for the youth and the Gudri women from the nearby villages.

Combined with her passion for fashion, she created Baliza in 2012, a sustainable fashion brand that has changed the lives of over 300 disadvantaged women and young adults in Jaipur.

Difference between sustainable fashion and fast fashion

Baliza uses certified organic cotton which doesn’t damage the soil, has less impact on the air, uses 88% less water and 62% less energy than conventional cotton. In addition, Baliza only utilises herbal dyes for their prints. Yellow is made from turmeric, blue from indigo and red from madder.

This results in a slightly muted colour palette compared to artificial dyes and also the limited color palette in their collections.

Using environmentally-friendly materials is just one of Baliza’s many approaches to sustainability. Baliza produces their apparels in one-size only. Regardless of whether you’re size 0 or plus-sized, be assured that they’ll fit you seamlessly. The dresses are designed in a way that one size fits all. A belt can be added and straps are adjustable. One dress, multiple styles.

The reason behind this concept is to prevent excess inventory when one size sells better than others. Thus, to discourage wastage or propagate the need for a sale to clear stocks, all dresses only come in one size.

Photo: Baliza

Giving back to society

However, sustainability doesn’t just refer to the carbon footprint generated through production but is also about fair trade. In the context of production in India, the artisans often work in poor conditions and are paid low wages. But at Ladli, they are paid three times the market rate. 

Moreover, the social stigma surrounding women at work is too deeply rooted in the patriarchal society in rural India.  Especially among the lower class, working is forbidden as they have to fulfill the ‘administrative’ role at home. Under those circumstances, simple chores such as stitching and embroidery are perceived as a hobby rather than an actual job.

Specially handcrafted for you

The fabric is printed using processes like screen printing and block printing in small batches which are done by hand. The prints are limited edition and are designed by Baliza and not mass produced in a factory. The fabric is then cut and stitched to produce the Baliza dresses. The entire process of printing- tailoring, stitching, embroidery and block-printing- is all done by hand and take months to complete. All these are done by the team at Ladli and are some of the essential skills that Ladli’s beneficiaries learn.

Block-printing is a technique that is widely used in Southeast Asia. The motif is first crafted onto a block of wood, before dipped in their unique herbal dyes and stamped onto the fabric.

Source: Baliza

Promoting a mindset, not a brand

When asked how aware Singaporeans are in general with regard to sustainable fashion, Mahdu answered very frankly that they are a 3 out of 10, at most.

“When we’re talking about sustainable fashion, we’re not asking them to buy from that organic brand. Just be more mindful. Buy less. Buy one dress instead of twenty dresses and wear that dress again,” she added.

Source: Baliza

One man’s waste is another man’s riches

That being said, Baliza is constantly trying to reduce wastage. Their most recent initiative, ‘Rags to Stitches’, has proven to be an effective way and was well-responded.

‘Rags to Stitches’ is centred around reducing fabric wastage. ‘Unwanted’ fabric is converted to hairbands, scrunchies and bags which were given free with every purchase at Boutique Fair. These fabrics are also used for packaging bags for online purchases.

Photo: Baliza

What’s Baliza Up To Now?

Their previous collection, Havana, has been a great hit with its cuban inspired designs. This season, Madhu has shared that they were going for a more oriental approach. Inspired by  the culture of the East, catch their newest collection, Jade.

Baliza

Locations:

Ship Of Time
Downtown Gallery, 01-36, 6A Shenton Way

Design Orchard
250 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238905

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