繭裹子 TWINE - The Green Fashion

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創辦人背景與開創繭裹子的契機

過往這些年在10/10 HOPE團隊帶領下,我有機會品嚐台北幾處美味綠色蔬食餐館,一飽口福。這次跟著編輯團隊的步伐,來到位於大稻埕區內的繭裹子。第一次看到繭裹子三個字的時候,必須定住雙眼盯著每一個單字看,才能慢慢地完整唸出三個字。

繭裹子兩位創辦人為蔡宜穎與楊士翔;在我步入位在繭裹子二樓的辦公室後,他們上前問好,歡迎我的拜訪。蔡宜穎看來靦腆,而楊士翔有著剛毅的神情,兩人都富有藝術家的氣質,帶點神秘,又似乎經歷了許多有趣的故事,讓人好奇。

兩人都有建築設計的背景,創辦繭裹子之前在上海的建築師事務所工作;以一般大眾標準來說,他們的工作頭銜與收入都頗好。當時事物所的主導人是一位美國建築師,在這位老建築師的設計案中都以節能與環保為前提來發展設計,同時也把這份精神落實在事物所的日常內,希望同仁配合。

「在那個時候(約2007年),環保與節能對大眾來說幾乎還只是個象徵性的口號;當然那位老建築師在秉持這個理念同時,也會面臨商業上的營利衝突。不過卻給我們機會認識環保的議題。」士翔對我說明這一切開始的契機。

同一時期,宜穎與士翔參與了同事手作店面的營運。一共六個人,分擔約兩坪大小店鋪的租金。士翔利用下班後的休閒時間製作木偶、印章以及羊毛氈飾品等手工品在店內販售。雖然這份業餘經營沒有充沛的營利,卻建立起兩人日後對繭裹子的概念。

後來有個機會,兩人在2009年參加了一場在上海舉辦的環保設計展。展覽上,兩人以羊毛氈手工品與宜穎所設計的衣服參展。這可讓人好奇,明明是建築的背景,為何開始手作商品與服裝設計呢?「這說來很複雜呀。」士翔這麼回答,不過他們兩人都笑了。

「我們都有建築的背景,以前在學校因為做模型、畫圖,所以對手作的手感很好。不過最大的原因還是因為那間共租的店面,店裡需要商品銷售,加上那時候剛好看了一本羊毛氈的手作書,所以就那麼開始了。」說完後,反而換士翔帶點靦腆的表情。宜穎學的是建築,不過後來修過一年的服裝設計,因此才能駕輕就熟設計展覽上的衣著。

「那個小店面沒有業績壓力,所以一切經驗都是在順其自然的情況下累積。參加環保設計展後,好像來到了一個人生的轉捩點,我們想回台灣發展,就決定離職,辭去建築師的工作。不過建築設計業在台灣市場上已經飽和,再繼續的話不可能會有太多的發展,所以才自己創業。」

剛開始做羊毛氈時,士翔帶入了大量建築語彙與結構性的思考,成品在造型上比較誇張,類似藝術創作品,而非純飾品。回到台灣之後,更加入了編織的手法,將相異、看似沒有關連的材質結合。

「那時候異想天開,在乾的蓮蓬孔洞中塞入羊毛、或是利用蠶繭創作,大量以類似的概念作設計。」採訪結束後、撰寫這篇專訪時,我上網查詢了士翔早期的編織與羊毛氈作品,不僅在尺寸規模上根本無法以飾品來歸類,就連創作理念都十分有趣,可以看出當時兩人結合環保與綠色意識的初衷。

The background and the opportunity to found TWINE

In the past years, following the 10/10 HOPE team, I have had the opportunity to taste some delicious green and vegetable restaurants in Taipei. This time, the editorial team lead me to TWINE (繭裹子) in the Dadaocheng District, Taipei. The first time when I saw these three Chinese characters 繭裹子, the title of their business in Chinese, I had to stare at the words and try to read it slowly.

Liz Tsai and Vinka Yang are the founders of TWINE. Liz seemed to be shy, and Vinka looked resolute. Both of them have the artist's quality. Besides, they seemed to have many interesting stories and experiences, which made me curious.

Both have a background in architecture; they worked in an architect company in Shanghai before the founding of TWINE. By general standards, their job and income are quite good. At that time, the owner of the architect office was an American architect. The architect focused on energy conservation and environmental protection in design, and also put this spirit into daily life, and hoped that the colleagues would cooperate.

"At that time (about 2007), environmental protection and energy conservation were almost a slogan for the public. The owner, the architect, insisted on this concept and faced conflicts in profitability. However, the experience gave us an opportunity to understand environmental issues. Vinka explains to me how the opportunity had begun.

During the same period, Liz and Vinka joined in the business of their colleagues' hand-made store. A total of six people shared the rent of a little shop. Vinka spent his leisure time after work to make handicrafts such as puppets, stamps and wool felting accessories for sale in the store. Although this store had no significant income, it established the concept of TWINE for both of them.

Later, there was an opportunity for Liz and Vinka to participate in an environmental design exhibition held in Shanghai in 2009. At the exhibition, the two presented with wool felting goods and the clothes designed by Liz. It is interesting; they majored in architecture, how would they start doing handicrafts and fashion design? "This is complicated." Vinka answers, but both of them smile.

"We both have the background of architecture, and used to draw and to build architectural models; therefore, we are good at doing things with hands. But the biggest reason was because of the shared store in Shanghai. The store needed goods for sale, and at that time, I read a wool felting book. It was interesting, and it was how it started." Vinka tells me. Furthermore, Liz had studied architecture, but after she majored in fashion design for a year. Therefore, she was able to design her collection for the exhibition.

"There was no business pressure in that store, so all experience was gathered easily. After participating in the environmental design exhibition, it seemed that we had a turning point in life. That time, we wanted to come back to Taiwan and continue our growth here. So we left Shanghai without any hesitate. But, the architectural market has been saturated in Taiwan; it was difficult to develop. Hence we decided to start our own business."

At the beginning of doing wool felting, Vinka brought a lot of architectural ideas and structural thinking into the handicrafts. The products were exaggerated in style, similar to artistic pieces, not just jewelry. After returning to Taiwan, he even used a weaving technique to combine materials that were different and seemingly unrelated.

"Everything was playful. For example, filling wool into dried lotus holes, or using silkworm cocoons to create different accessory styles." After the interview, I reviewed their early work on the internet. His creative concept was fascinating. It can be seen from the early projects that their environmental awareness and the original intention of green fashion.

繭裹子創辦人楊士翔 Vinka Yang

繭裹子創辦人楊士翔 Vinka Yang

繭裹子創辦人蔡宜穎 Liz Tsai

繭裹子創辦人蔡宜穎 Liz Tsai

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公平貿易不只是個綠色組織,而是將理念轉化為生活日常的態度

回到台灣後,宜穎與士翔的家人不能理解他們辭去固定薪資、穩定工作的決定。不過,兩人將這個轉捩點當成人生新的領域,重新開始。從建築師的身份轉為零售業,以前在電腦前畫圖,現在則在收銀台後幫客人結帳。不過,完全沒有相關經營背景,也沒有事業預備金,關於繭裹子的一切是如何開始的呢?

「剛開始我們對開店的計畫過於理想化。當初編織的用料,大多使用來自孟加拉生產的麻線,所以有機會接觸公平貿易;沒想到卻成了改變我們最大的關鍵。」那時候正好是2010 年,大眾對於公平貿易的認識大部分是因為引進公平貿易的咖啡豆的緣故。不過在這之外並沒有其他類似的產業在市場上。所以,兩人構思引進其他公平貿易產品的可能性。不過因為不懂,所以花了很多時間研究。查詢國外公平貿易的公司、關於WFTO的申請方式,另外還有不同產業與品牌間的運作方式。

繭裹子在2011 年取得WFTO認證,在2012年成功申請成為會員。陸續在這些年來申請了FLO(國際公平貿易標籤組織)、B Corp(B Corp認證)、1% For The Planet,以及Fashion Revolution(時尚革命)等會員與認證。將取得認證的標章放在產品上希望讓消費者瞭解,同時提供清楚辨識的系統。

「不過,台灣在公平貿易相關產業上的制度還不健全,我們尚未建立一套完善的系統,以致於很多消費者就算看到了認證的標章,也不懂背後的含意。」所以,在繭裹子所有門市裡,工作人員在顧客有興趣的前提下,都願意多花一點時間說明關於繭裹子的經營理念、公平貿易背後的精神與作法。士翔表示,從2010年開始投入,一直到現在,在台灣業界中參與的人或組織的結構與數量和八年前是一樣的,也就是說並沒有新血的加入。其實消費者的觀念一直在更新,認同而且願意支持的人數也越來越多,不過很可惜,品牌並沒有跟進,提供給消費者更多的選擇可能性。

Fairtrade is not just a green organization but applying a concept into a daily life attitude.

After returning to Taiwan, Liz and Vinka’s family could not understand their decision to quit. However, both took this turning point as a new beginning. From the architect to the businessman, who used to draw in front of the computer, now check out at the checkout counter for customers. Still, I wonder, in the absence of related experience and no reserve supply, how did TWINE start?

"In the beginning, we were idealistic. Most of the materials we used for weaving are from Bangladesh. So we had the opportunity to get in touch with Fairtrade. We didn't expect it to be the most important key for us." At that time in 2010, the public in Taiwan had the opportunity to understand Fairtrade because of the introduction of fair trade coffee beans. However, there were no other similar industries on the market. Therefore, Liz and Vinka considered the possibility of introducing other Fairtrade products to Taiwan. They did not know much about Fairtrade; therefore, they spent a lot of time researching. Inquire about foreign Fairtrade companies, about how to apply for WFTO, and how to operate between different industries and brands.

They obtained WFTO certification in 2011 and successfully applied to become a member in 2012. In the past years, TWINE has applied for membership and certifications such as FLO (Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International), B Corp (B Corp Certification), 1% For The Planet, and Fashion Revolution. They placed the certification marks on the products, and hope to let people know and provide a clear identification system.

"The Fairtrade system in Taiwan is still not perfect. We have not yet established a comprehensive system. Therefore, many consumers do not understand the meaning behind the certification even if they see a certification mark." Therefore, in the stores of TWINE, our staff will spend a little more time explaining our business philosophy, and the spirit and practice behind Fairtrade when customers show interest." Moreover, since the beginning of 2010, the structure and numbers of organizations involved in the Taiwanese industry have been the same as eight years ago. Which means, there is no new development. In fact, consumers have a new and different concept now. There are more and more people who agree and are willing to support Fairtrade. Unfortunately, brands have not followed up to provide consumers with more choices.

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推動綠色時尚的困難與瓶頸

「更進一步,不只倡導觀念,我們更希望改變消費者的消費行為與消費意識。」繭裹子雖然是以公平貿易的理念經營,不過終究是需要獲利營收的品牌,因此在廣告宣傳上,還是回到最根本的消費觀念著手。

「大部分的品牌無法公開製造成本,最主要的原因就是最底層的工作者薪資是完全被剝削的,所以市面上才會有廉價的衣服。對消費者而言只是些便宜的衣物,卻無法想像背後的工作者與該產業對環境所造成污染的聯想。其實我們想讓消費者瞭解,不是應該買什麼品牌或是哪些產品,而是從根本來改變,那便是減少消費。不要買那麼多便宜的衣服,也不要因為便宜而買,我們必須瞭解便宜會造成什麼問題。如果是因為需求而消費,那麼改成購買比較有價值的商品、慎選品牌。」價值不代表價位,不過卻可以誠實反應出產業的生態健康與否。

一位英國的作者所撰寫的「為什麼你該花更多的錢,買更少的衣服」這本書中,所推導的就是這個觀念。花比較少的錢買衣服只穿幾個月,與花比較多的錢買穿比較久的衣服兩者之間,可能加總的費用是接近的,不過對於背後的人力與環境卻有不同的付出。所以繭裹子希望不只影響消費者,也可以帶動同行一起加入。

台灣在2015年的時候爆出了嚴重的食品安全問題;消費者在吃食上投注更多的關切,進而影響了大家的消費習慣,連同在生活用品、衣著的產地與成分上都可以有更清楚的瞭解。士翔認為,這是在觀念上的大躍進;越是有更多人關注,才能讓環保、綠色時尚的觀念落實在生活之中。

Difficulties and bottlenecks in promoting green fashion

"Further, not only advocating ideas, but we also would like to change consumers' behavior and awareness." Vinka says. Although TWINE is operating on the principle of Fairtrade, it still needs to make a profit. Therefore, in advertising, it is back to change consumers' concept of consumption.

"Most brands can't disclose manufacturing costs because the bottom-level workers are completely exploited, so there are cheap clothes on the market. For consumers, it's just cheap clothes, but they can't imagine the situation and the pollution caused by these industries. We want to let consumers understand that it is not about which brands, but to change from the root, that is to reduce consumption. Do not buy so many cheap Clothes. Don't buy because of the low price; we must understand what the problem will be caused by cheap stuff. If it is because of demand, then buy valuable goods and carefully choose brands." Value does not represent the price, but can honestly reveal how the industry and brands operate.

TWINE's concept is similar to the idea of why you should spend more money and buy less clothes written by Lucy Siegle, a British author. Spend less money to buy clothes for only a few months, and spend more money on clothes that are for a more extended period; the total cost may be close, but the person and situation behind the concept are different. Therefore, TWINE hopes not only to affect consumers but also bring operators from the same industry to join.

Taiwan experienced serious food safety problems in 2015; so people are more concerned about diet, and it affects everyone's spending attitude. A clearer understanding of goods and ingredients of the daily necessities and clothing. Vinka believes that this is a great leap forward in concept. The more people pay attention, the concept of environmental protection and green fashion can be achieved in life.

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台灣時尚改革Fashion Revolution Taiwan

Fashion Revolution是一個全球性的運動,發動的原因來自於2014年孟加拉一棟成衣工廠的大火,英國首先發起了運動。那一年,宜穎與士翔也在孟加拉,在當地認識了Fashion Revolution組織,於是加入時尚改革團隊,回台灣主辦、推動相關活動。

「我們邀請台灣(以及亞洲)關於綠色時尚、環保時尚、純素飲食等相關行業參與。一起加入的團體、品牌都已經是行業裡的先驅,希望可以影響周遭、尤其是其他類似快速時尚的品牌,進而改變原本的生產模式,這是Fashion Revolution最終的目的。後來更邀請了古著商、二手交換買賣衣物店家等工作者加入。」

在活動中,繭裹子邀請了10/10 HOPE參加主題性講座,針對如何把「綠色生活」落實在生活、美容保養產品、用品上,將純素、無動物實驗的品牌介紹給台灣大眾認識。因此,在繭裹子門市裡,不只提供公平貿易衣物產品給顧客,同時透過使用10/10HOPE所代理、來自紐約的品牌Laundress,以純天然環保素材製造、無添加化學過敏物質,同時純植物翠取配方對環境無害、可完全被微生物所分解,最重要的是無動物測試,傳遞正確洗滌的觀念給購買衣物的消費者。延長好品質、好成分衣物的壽命,也可以避免乾洗對環境造成的污染。

宜穎與士翔兩人以繭裹子為出發點,利用不同管道,將使命傳遞出去:做最好的公平貿易產品,因為到最後,產品是最重要的。因為公平貿易有價值,但是沒有絕對的價格。透過產品串連起消費者,並且建構一個新的商業型態與觀念。

慢慢地,開始有服裝設計學院、社會學系或是商學院,邀請繭裹子兩位創辦人到學校演講,從學校開始推動觀念,希望漸漸影響更多的人。

Fashion Revolution Taiwan

Fashion Revolution is a global event that was initiated by a fire in a garment factory in Bangladesh in 2014, and the UK first launched the campaign. That year, Liz and Vinka met the Fashion Revolution organization in Bangladesh. They joined the team and returned to Taiwan to host and promote activities.

"We invite related brands and industries such as green fashion labels, eco-fashion brands, vegan diet restaurants that are located in Taiwan (or Asia) to participate in the events. The groups and brands that have joined together are already the pioneers in the industry. We hope to influence the surrounding, especially other fast fashion brands to change the way of production. It is the final goal of Fashion Revolution. Later, we invite also antique and second-hand stores and other operators to join our events.

During the Fashion Revolution event, TWINE invited 10/10 HOPE to participate and to tell how to implement “Green Life” on beauty care. At the same time, they also introduced vegan and Not Tested on Animals beauty brands to consumers. In the stores of TWINE, they not only provide Fairtrade clothing but also use the brand Laundress from New York, which is represented by 10/10HOPE, to teach consumers the idea of washing clothes properly. Washing clothes in a proper way not only extends the life of the garments but also avoids environmental pollution caused by dry cleaning. Laundress is made from natural materials without adding chemicals. At the same time, pure plant formula is harmless to the environment and can be completely decomposed by microorganisms. The most important thing is that there is no animal testing.

Liz and Vinka take TWINE as the starting point and work on different ways to achieve the mission: to offer the best Fairtrade products. Because in the end, the product is the most important. Fairtrade is valuable, but there is no absolute price to define it. Connecting consumers through good products and build a new business type and concept.

Slowly, Fashion Design schools, Sociology Departments or Business Schools invite Liz and Vinka to give lectures. Both hope to promote green fashion or lifestyle ideas from the school system and gradually influence more people.

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把環保、珍惜萬物的觀念落實在生活中

在採訪過程中,我不斷針對不明白的細節發問,宜穎與士翔始終認真詳細地解說,沒有顯露出疲態。他們的確抱持著多一次解說就有機會讓更多人瞭解公平貿易的兩個重點,那便是透明的價值與問責性。透明的價值指的是在所有生產流程中的資訊都清清楚楚,而問責性是指生產者對消費者的完全負責。

友善環境、減少環境污染,同時善待所有食材、衣物生產製造者的工作環境與所得收入等這些原本只是空泛的口號,已經漸漸地被大家瞭解、進而接受、再而推廣。因為瞭解而影響觀念、觀念會改變行為、而多數人的行為可以塑造大環境的氛圍,讓主事者更加深刻體會每個人以及每個企業所肩負的責任。

採訪結束之後與宜穎與士翔的對話讓我心有戚戚焉。過往因為工作關係,常常收到許多生活中不需要也不適用的商品禮物。也為了媒體頻道的需求,購入快速時尚單品只為了一次曝光的穿搭。以為自己過上光鮮亮麗的生活,不過內心裡卻很空虛。大約在兩年前下定決心,首先出清了所有為了買而買的衣物,再者減少了大約百分之九十的消費。如果真的有需求,會以較好品質品牌與商品做優先考量。現在的生活簡單多了,卻神清氣爽,希望從小我來慢慢改變提升。

我很欣賞宜穎與士翔的態度與精神,不偏激的宣導手法,也不認為只有自己的觀念正確。而是透過一種「希望你也聽聽看」的態度,把環保的觀念帶入生活中。讓我們一起回頭檢視自己的生活與消費習慣吧。

Implement the concept of environmental protection in life

During the interview, I kept asking questions about the details that I didn't understand. Liz and Vinka always explained in detail and did not show impatience. They hope to let more people understand the two critical points of Fairtrade, accountability and transparency. Transparency means that the information in all production processes is clear, and accountability refers to the complete responsibility of the producer to the consumer.

Eco-friendly, reducing pollution, and improve the environment and income of all manufacturers, these were just slogans. But now, people understand, accept, and promote gradually. Because of understanding, it affects ideas, and concepts will change behaviors; moreover, the action of the majority can shape the atmosphere of the situation. Let the public deeply understand the responsibilities of everyone and each business in the industries.

After our interview, the conversation with Liz and Vinka made me feel embarrassed. In the past, because of my job, I often received many gifts that were not needed or suitable in my life. Also for the needs of social media, I purchased a lot of fast fashion items only for one-time photo shooting. I thought I had a brilliant and beautiful life, but my mind was empty. About two years ago, I made up my mind to remove all the clothes I bought that I actually do not need. Then I reduce unnecessary consumption. If there is a real need, I will give priority to better quality brands and products. My life is much simpler now, but I am refreshed. I hope to change and improve myself slowly from small details in life.

I appreciate the attitude and spirit of Liz and Vinka. They use their unbiased approach to delivering their ideas, and they don't think that only their opinions are correct. Instead, bring environmental protection into life through an attitude of "maybe you like it too." Let us review our life and consumption behavior together.

 

This post was written in cooperation with 10/10 HOPE for TWINE. Even though, we give our own opinion uninfluenced. We had full rein over text and content of this article.