About Nukleus

Thursday, 12 December 2013

PRE-LOVED IN LONDON - SUSTAINABLE FASHION ...AND THE DARK SIDE




At Nukleus we are always looking for new ways to incorporate sustainability and transparency in our work. A recent trip to the UK provided us with some interesting learnings on pre-loved garments and labels.

In London, one sustainable fashion approach which has been popular with a select few locals for decades is now becoming mainstream...‘charity’ shops selling second hand donated garments to raise funds for (and the profile of) that organisation.

Bargain hunting at Oxfam
Staffed by volunteers, there are several on every high street, thronged with people from all walks of life - fashionistas in search of an eclectic, yet stylish look, office workers and other professionals kitting themselves out in brands at a fraction of brand shop prices, designer bargain-hunters keen to upgrade their wardrobe with a little something by...Ted Baker or DKNY.

Price-wise, the only outlet which even comes near to charity shops, is the classic ‘made in an unregulated sweatshop in the Third World by people paid barely enough to live on’ chain.

We won’t promote them by naming names. However, following a vegan lunch on Oxford Street, with time to kill before a meeting, we decided to explore the chain’s huge new outlet across the road.

The first surprising thing was the sheer size of the store, three massive floors of cheap and sometimes quite nice looking items. Customers were stuffing laundry size shopping bags with, it appeared, three of everything in each colour. Snatches of excited conversation in a global medley of languages demonstrated that both tourists and locals were thrilled to be buying as much as they could carry. One big-capped gangsta-style youth told his girlfriend ‘You buy whatever you want’ with a touching pride that, here, at least, money was no object.

A dark-haired woman was trying on cardis in front of a mirror. She made the GBP20 (RM 100) item look stunning. The shop floor was awash with customers carting armloads of clothes to the changing rooms. Uniformed staff with serious faces and the focussed air of people who have been well-trained, strode among the racks of clothing, itemising, re-hanging, organising, pushing huge trolleys of clothes.

Above us, a vast flat-screen TV beamed the latest corporate offering, smiley attractive people, happy, glossy and well-styled, with a soundtrack of corporate chimes to encourage us to buy. A far-cry from the less happy, less smiley and definitely not styled workers who’d produced the garments to be consumed by those who already had more than enough, but who love a bargain at knock-down prices.

The atmosphere was intense. The colours muted and bang on trend. From funky to edgy, from classic to retro chic... reindeer or Santa suits for less than a fiver (RM2O). Dozens of styles of cute woolly hats and gloves - with ears, smiley animal faces, plain, decorated. Cardigans, dresses, skirts, tops, suits, shoes, jewellery...a cornucopia of consumption. But where does this stuff come from?

As part of our venture into global markets, Nukleus has become aware of labelling issues. While in Malaysia and some other Asian countries, labelling the country of origin is not necessary, in many other marketplaces, like Taiwan, it is mandatory. We like this transparent approach, as it enables consumers to make a more informed choice about the product they’re purchasing.

Checking a few labels on the shiney superstore garments, it was interesting to see that there was no ‘manufactured in‘ information - just Spanish and UK contact details. Which is odd, as a quick check of the company website is full of stuff about how great they’re being to the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster, which killed and injured so many workers producing their products. Lots of happy smiling workers here in the professionally made videos.

Universes away from the crushed bodies and ruined lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in the pre-Christmas feeding frenzy of happy shoppers in London’s Oxford Street, it was hard to imagine that this company, and many like it, has the blood of so many workers on its hands. And that this exploitation continues.

A friend commented, ‘Yeah, that chain is fine if you want cheap s**t that falls to bits after a couple of washes, but charity shops give you better quality for cheaper prices.’


Manager volunteer at Children with Cerebal Palsy

She was right. In Oxfam, brand name clothing jostled for space with jewellery for a couple of pounds (RM10). In the Children with Cerebral Palsy shop a quick search produced a Marks & Spencer belt for a pound (RM5). The manager, a volunteer, assured me that all the money went to the charity. “I decided to help out because the charity is just down the road from where I live. The work they do for the children is amazing.”

And that is really part of the sustainable fashion equation, isn’t it? Helping create community and values, giving back, and an attitude which recognises our common humanity, and the need to behave in a responsible way to sustain life on this planet. And knowing where things come from and how they are made.

Is is possible to be sustainable with a few glossy videos and image-management CSR projects, when the fundamental operation is built on cheap female labour in one of the poorest countries in the world? Is this \ really about workers’ empowerment...or reputation management, created and delivered by armies of PR professionals on a minimum wage of GBP60,000 (RM300,000) a year? Plus bonus. Plus perks.



Three years ago, visiting one of the chain’s outlets in west London, we noticed a few small signs on the walls explaining how well their overseas workers were treated. Two years later came Rana Plaza. Now the signs are nowhere to be seen, while the labels are strangely mute on the country of origin, and the website has a whole section on ethical trading, asserting : (brand) was shocked and deeply saddened by the events in April, when the Rana Plaza building, near Dhaka in Bangladesh, collapsed, killing 1,132 people. The building housed several factories, one of which produced for (brand).

Sourced from the cheapest possible location by a well-paid army of garment industry professionals. Did they really have no idea what was happening? And now, suddenly they know and care? But they don’t say where the garments come on the labels. Why? And is this exploitative game something anyone with values would choose to play?

Nukleus will shortly be including country of origin labelling in future products to ensure greater transparency and compliance with international regulations.

Monday, 14 October 2013

CAN FASHION EVER BE ETHICAL?

Six months on from the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, consumers are  being treated to a canter round the media opinion paddock of what big brands are or are not doing to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again.

A piece from the UK's Guardian newspaper examines how some brands are addressing the issue of dangerous working conditions in Bangladesh. Not enough is the verdict. When it comes to monitoring working conditions and auditing the supply chain, these global brands with vast revenues struggle to address fundamental issues, wringing their hands in despair - it’s the middle man, public pressure to get new designs out for the next season, whatever, they just don’t know what’s going on!


 It appears to come as some kind of a shock to the highly paid management teams at the Gap, Arcadia/Topshop; Wallmart/Asda/George et al, that factory safety records are falsified. Duh! And that workers are under extraordinary pressure to meet deadlines by working excruciatingly long hours. In unsafe conditions. That workers are locked inside and emergency exits are locked or blocked. Of course there are no unions (unorganised labour is cheaper) but, gee whizz, what can the H&Ms, the Gaps, the Top Shop/Arcadia Group possibly do? They’re complying with the laws of the land...

There are sound economic and social reasons why mega brands use workers from the global south to produce their expensively hyped products. Women and child workers have less economic and social power in places like Bangladesh and India. Desperate for any kind of income, they are forced to accept what they can get. 

Working conditions are unregulated and therefore bad (kids working in firework factories in India), women are the bottom of the pile (women sit on the ground while men are in chairs in Bangladesh, Indian women eat last, after their male relatives) and unions are more or less forbidden. Corporations are in business to turn a profit, so why would they seriously seek to address these issues?

Gap, Arcadia/Topshop; Wallmart/Asda/George etc have advertising and marketing budgets of mega millions of pounds/dollars/euros. They pay fantastic amounts to supermodels to make their throw-away products seem desirable, aspirational and on-trend.

They jet teams first class across the globe to shoot ad campaigns on idyllic beaches, and hang out in five star designer hotels. They think spending RM 1000 (£250) on a pair of shoes is a great idea. So are they the kind of people who are really going to care about some poor Bangladeshi woman, scraping a living to support her family, living in a slum, uneducated...unfashionable (polyester saris - yikes!), not aspirational and anything but bang on trend?

Intelligent people can make up their own minds about the answers to these questions.

At Nukleus we believe that ethical fashion STARTS with the values and ethics of sustainability and social and environmental justice. It's not something you can tack on as a piece of CSR gloss to make consumers feel better about clothing that has been produced by modern-day slaves. It’s about fundamental values of fairness, justice, equality and stewardship, and translating those values into systems which honour them.
Modern society is built on consumption, a perpetual cycle of work, buy, consume, die seen as essential to the ever-increasing economic growth which politicians, business leaders, and a large proportion of humanity itself, say is the only way forward for human progress. But is continuous growth possible in a finite space? Or has consumerism become a kind of cancer on the body of the planet?

The fashion industry is a key driver in global consumerism, fuelling high street shops and malls, designer boutiques, high end, low end, on-trend, accessible, wearable, designer, boho, classic. Feeding on and promoting our desire to impress, look good,  and fit in. And changing every three months to ensure we all buy this season’s must have look as we scrabble to keep up with the diktats of anorexic fashionistas.

It’s cheaper to produce the garments in substandard factories in Dhaka than elsewhere for a reason. No building regulations or safety standards. No workers’ rights or unions. A culture where women have little or no autonomy and are therefore forced into low-paid, insecure jobs, in conditions which would not be tolerated in more affluent countries. A bureaucracy and businessmen who will follow the money when it comes to decision-making, rather than values of ethics, fairness and decency.
By cutting costs, a cavalier attitude to health and safety, decent working conditions and basic human rights, the Gaps, Wallmarts (Asda’s George label in the UK) H &Ms, Arcadia Group (Top Shop) produce hugely profitable disposable fashion.  And part of the disposability is the invisible non-people who toil to produce these must-have, to-die-for fashion goodies, subsidising transnational profits with their health and lives.

Six months on from the deadly Rana Plaza factory collapse,  Wallmart/Asda/George, among others, has still not paid compensation to victims and their families. Why not? Because profit at all costs is their guiding value? Because Bangladeshi workers are disposable? Invisible? Powerless? Because in the David and Goliath battle of Bangladeshi garment factory workers versus one of the richest corporations in the US, there is no contest? Is this all just a coincidence when global brands decide where to produce their product... or a fundamental reason?

And six months on from Rana Plaza, our Facebook feeds are full of reports of a fire in another garment factory in Dhaka, which claimed the lives of yet more innocent workers. Lessons, it would appear, have not been learned, and more unfashionable, disposable, powerless and innocent people have been killed.

Where profit at all costs is the driving value, anything can be justified in the name of the bottom line. Is this how we want to live, wearing clothes metaphorically stained in the blood and tears of the workers who’ve made them? Can we feel good if we know that our fashion is based on others’ pain?

Some of us think not, and here at Nukleus we are trying to make a stand...for our values, for people and the planet. Because we believe in equality, fairness and justice...for everyone and the planet, not just the privileged few. We are doing are best to make this happen at every stage of our production process...from seed to shop, and we truly appreciate the commitment and energy of all involved in this process, including you, reading this blog. Thank you for caring.

Friday, 16 August 2013

NUKLEUS FANS SPEAK OUT


“Conscientious clothing’  was the recent headline in  New Straits Times  about Nukleus. We felt happy and proud to be acknowledged in this way. We are on a constant mission to improve our products and provide a better service to our fans, and we know you appreciate what we do.

We appreciate and value our fans, friends and supporters, and we want to understand why Nukleus is important to you.


This is what we discovered...

* ‘Because every single person is responsible for the condition of the earth they live in. I want to be as responsible for my Earth as much as I can’...says yoga-loving Cynthia Chin.

*’Nukleus cotton products make me feel like I am not wearing it! Nukleus advocates informed choices of consumer product,’ says thoughtful (and sensitive!) Penangite, Andrew Koay, adding, ’Good for the environment, as well as very comfortable to wear. I am taking the brief series and it feels like the brief is part of my skin!’

Like, Sharon Das, who LOLed our ‘No woman has every started an argument with a man while he was dusting, vacuuming or washing the dishes,’ post, you have a sense of humour.

And like the animals’ friend, Mabeal Hoh, who believes that : ‘Poachers should be caught and throw them in a dungeon’, you care passionately about our fellow creatures.  ‘To me being green is to help protect mother nature and to do this, we need to learn to recycle waste and to do whatever is necessary to save planet earth. Every bit counts.’
Kuching student, Chong Ming, wants to know about ‘Healthy or sexual lifestyle’.  Well, we can do our best to inform on health! 

Some of you give valuable feedback. ‘I don't like the bold/thick at the top of man underwear, I just want it be thin’ observes Khaw Swee Kian, a family man from KL. While Penang Spirit comments, ‘The ladies tee needs a re-design as it's not very flattering especially the neck line. Would like to see some bolder colours such as red.’
                                     
Super fan and ardent Nukleus supporter, Green Man, Matthias Gelber says, ‘We need a major shift - Nukleus is an amazing pioneer and I am wearing their innerwear as we speak ..’ He continues ‘Values and ethics are critical to shift our economy to a green and sustainable one - Nukleus with Tan at the helm is one of the best examples in the region. Like in Germany the shift was lead by owners with strong values’

Points echoed by Penang Spirit , who promote living a healthy, holistic lifestyle in Penang.  ‘It's good to know that some companies put ethics before profits.’

Thanks for all the feedback and support. Polite, compassionate, genuine people who are walking the talk of the eco beliefs. We salute you!

Friday, 2 August 2013

HOW YOU'RE HELPING THE PLANET



Nukleus is a brand which cares...about how its innerwear is produced, about the planet, and about YOU. We produce affordable, quality, organic cotton innerwear and basics which don’t cost the earth and promote fashion with a conscience.

Our organic cotton is sourced in India, from farmers who are paid fairly for their product. They care about the environment and their health, and don’t want to poison either with toxic chemicals. That’s why they grow organic cotton.

Our garments are made in a Chinese factory we have known for years, who treat their workers fairly and have decent working conditions.

Our 7500+ Facebook fans care about our products, and are concerned about wider environmental and health issues. They like fashion and and share our belief in products made with a conscience.

Our garments are designed to reflect these values of caring, for producers, customers and the planet. We are committed to transparency, sustainability and working with integrity. We value our producers, suppliers, distributors and customers, and want long-term relationships with them...

Organic cotton items are about 60% of our range. Our eco-friendly and healthful products are also made from organic bamboo, and a rayon analogue made from eucalyptus, Lenzing Tencel.

We strive to create a sense of customer empowerment, so that customers can feel that by wearing our products they are actively doing good for people and the environment. That’s the bottom line for fashion with a conscience, the reality of big concepts like ‘social justice’ and ‘environmental sustainability’.

Malaysia, where we are based, is at an interesting and pivotal place in its history. As a young nation, we are looking to create a future of hope, a sustainable future, not just for ourselves, but for generations to come.

To do this, we need to avoid the pitfalls of over-developed nations, like the US and some European countries. Their unsustainable ‘development’ was built on centuries of colonisation, extracting raw materials from countries which they had invaded, to promote and push an agenda of endless economic growth. Any four year old could tell you that endless growth on a finite planet is impossible, but, still, for many, especially those in business and politics, this is, even now, the turgid and endlessly repeated mantra.

In the real world, away from discredited economic theories of the benefits of ‘trickle down’ (there are none, the economic benefits of old-style ‘development’ stay in the hands of the already rich and powerful, further marginalising the less well-off), a new paradigm for living is emerging.

In this paradigm, quality of life and real sustainability are fundamental. Community, an emphasis on self-reliance, responsible living and caring for the plants and creatures on the planet are the norm.

Urban farming is one important manifestation of this. Local groups and individuals as far afield as London, Detroit, and even Singapore, are growing fruit, herbs and vegetables on disused plots of land, gardens and balconies, and reaping huge benefits, not just in terms of fresh, organic, good quality and cheap produce, but also in increased levels of fitness and improved health. Equally important, when people get together in this way, they start to build a real and vibrant community, creating neighbourhoods where people look out for each others, share...and don’t need walls, gates and security guards in order to feel safe and protected.

This is the kind of future we’re hoping to help create. Where benefits are shared, where people can enjoy their lives in peace and simple pleasures and duties. Where prosperity is measured, not by ringgit, pounds or dollars in the bank, but by the smile on childrens’ faces and a neighbour’s helping hand reaching out to help another...where the hillsides and beaches are a valued resource for all to enjoy, and we share our precious environment with all creatures.

Some may say this is an impossible dream, but we work, every day to make this dream a reality. And many, like you, support us. We know and you know that without this peaceful co-existence, we are all destroyed. Together, we are making the world a fairer, better, and kinder place. And together, we marvel in this journey, of richness, learning and opportunity to contribute.

Monday, 24 June 2013

WHY WE VALUE VALUES

WHAT DOES NUKLEUS STAND FOR? OUR VALUES

All organisations have values, implicit, explicit or both. Values contribute to the brand, the company culture and why people buy a particular product, rather than something similar.

At Nukleus we understand that you’re concerned about the impacts of your purchases, and we do our best to make our products as environmentally and socially just as possible.


For us, being successful in business does not mean we give up all moral values. It means we have an opportunity to use the brand to promote environmental and social justice.

The people who produce the cotton we use are people, just like us. Farmers and factory workers have their hopes, fears, dreams and responsibilities, like us. They have families, concerns about schooling for their kids or relatives. They may be worried about a sick relative, they may be looking forward to a celebration, a wedding, religious festival, or a birthday.

These people are trying to lead decent lives, like us...paying bills, cooking food, looking after kids or older relatives, trying to figure out life on a daily basis, the way we all are.

Recognising our common humanity means that we MUST treat each other with respect and dignity...not just our close family, relatives, colleagues and friends, but those whose labour we rely on to make our products. They may live in different countries, with different customs and beliefs, but under the skin, we are all the same. We can all experience, hunger, pain, joy and delight. We can be energised or exhausted, happy or depressed. We all bleed.

This recognition of our common humanity is key to the values we espouse in our working life and in our relationship with the producers and workers in the supply chain. And it’s not just about people, but about the environment too. From soil, to water, to air, to the myriad creatures and organisms which make up the biosphere, we don’t see the planet as an infinite resource to be used up, polluted then discarded, in the quest for profit. It’s a precious place, and it’s our duty not to wreck it with dangerous chemicals or by using up natural resources.

There are so many differences between organic cotton and conventional cotton, the crop rotation system, pesticides used or not and the residue left in the fabric. In some cases conventional cotton may even look better because of the chemicals and dyes used. But the chi is different, and for intimate apparel, this is also an important issue.

This planet is a beautiful place, and it our responsibility not to destroy it as we do business.  Being an ethical company, being values-driven, means that we don’t have a gimmicky ‘looking good’ approach to CSR. It’s in our organisational DNA, as important to us as the air we breathe.

Integrity means walking the talk of fairness. We strive to be fair, to producers, customers, and the environment. Maybe we don’t always get everything right. We’re in a process of evolution. It’s a steep learning curve, but our commitment is to continue to learn and improve.


And yes, we’re also about fashion, fun, and lifestyle. We want you to like our products, enjoy them, maybe even recommend them to your friends, but most of all we want you to be confident that Nukleus products are not costing the earth. In our own small way, we hope to be a force for good, for positive change. We want to use the power of the brand to educate and influence ALL our stakeholders: suppliers, distributors, employees, to understand the joined-upness of what we all do on a daily basis.

We want to use the power of the brand to help people and the environment. Yes, being organic, sustainable and committed to social and environmental justice is a powerful marketing tool. But, more than that, we believe that a brand has a responsibility, a strategic imperative to be ‘green’.

Sustainability is more a journey than a destination. Here at Nukleus we are on that journey. Sometimes it’s difficult, sometimes it’s inspiring...but most of all it’s a commitment to walk the talk of sustainability and do as much as we possibly can to help people and the environment. We are honoured to have your company and support on this great adventure.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Can 'healthy' living save the Planet? 5 things you need to know before you buy anything!

You want to be healthy. You care about your own and your family’s wellbeing. You buy organic, exercise and sometimes even look out for ‘eco’ products. You know that deforestation and plastic bags are bad, that veggies are good, and fast-food is generally going to make you fat. You take less sugar and try to avoid sodas and drinks loaded with sugar.

But what happens when you shop, and how much do you really know about how, where and by whom, the products you consume are made? Watching the coverage of the Bangladeshi garment factory collapse in Dhaka, bodies and survivors of mainly poor, young women being clawed out of the wreckage by rescuers with their bare hands,  makes us wonder where ‘healthy’ begins and ends.


Is it just in our own lives, and those of our near and dear ones, or do we have an obligation, a responsibility even, to expand our vision of a healthy life to encompass a much wider realm of systems and processes, the ecosystem of consumer production?

And what are the health implications of this, on both a personal and wider scale, not just physically, but emotionally and for society too? What is the bigger picture when it comes to making healthy choices, for ourselves and the Planet?

We’ve come up with a mental checklist of questions to ask when we’re shopping, to help understand how lifestyle choices impact on the health of the Planet and people.

1) Do I want it or do I need it? Is it true that the only way to ‘progress’ or ‘develop’ is to buy more? On a finite planet, with limited natural resources and a growing population, it’s obvious that infinite growth is not possible. Simply buying more stuff locks us into a merry-go-round of ‘work-buy-consume-die’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLBE5QAYXp8. So when you’re thinking of buying the next X, the newest Y, or the trendiest and most hip Z, stop, take some deep breaths and think: do really I want or need this?

2) Who made this? The supply chain may seem like a boring concept, but it’s key to understanding where the stuff we buy comes from and how it’s made. The Fairtrade Foundation in London interviews coffee growers and small scale banana producers struggling to survive. Gambling on the futures market, or MNCs unfair pricing policies put small producers at a huge disadvantage. Do you know how items get from producers onto supermarket shelves?  Do you really want to be buying cheap, disposable fashion, made by poorly paid, and, apparently disposable people, like the young Bangladeshi women being pulled from the rubble? So when you’re thinking of buying something, think about who made or produced it.

3) Where was this made? A friend commented recently how, looking shiny plastic toys in a street market in London, or Mamallapuram in India, she was hit by a lightning flash of revelation. Everything is made in a sweatshop in China. The realisation was a game-changer. Obviously some things are made in sweatshops not in China, say in Bangladesh, or in China in well-regulated working conditions, but as a mental rule of thumb, it works pretty well. So when you’re contemplating a purchase, take a deep, relaxing breath, and think: where was this made and how comfortable will  I feel wearing or using things produced in sweatshops?

4) Hello Environment! OK, you’ve gone through steps 1-3. You know you need it. You’ve checked out where it was made. Ok, China, but the label says sweatshop-free. You find your hand hovering towards the item like a zombie living dead thing approaching a tasty human snack. STOP! Just one tiny point more. What are the environmental impacts of this lovely shiney/soft/trendito item you’re gazing at with such hopeful lust? What went into the smartphone/ garment/ snack’food’/ trinket? Metals, mined in dangerous conditions, in mines which disfigure the landscape and pour a toxic chemical cocktail into the rivers? Cotton drenched in pesticides and consuming many times more scarce water resources than food crops? Mysterious chemicals whipped into food-like entities, turning consumers (you) into lab rats? If you don’t know the answer to any/all of these questions, how much are you willing to trust the company who’s selling you the item?

5) Is there another way to get this? Must you buy new? In Europe and the US charity shops selling second clothes, books, and household items are a much-loved feature of town centres. Why pay RM 150 for a dress when you can find better quality and new-looking iems in the Kawin or Salvation Army shops?  Check out local flea markets, garage sales or get together with friends for a ‘swishing/’ session, where you swap unwanted items. You will save money, have fun and get creative too. Think before you buy : can I make/grow/upcycle/buy this second hand?  Why waste money on new if you don’t have to?

We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about this approach to a healthy lifestyle. Maybe you have some tips you’d like to share? Or maybe you think you don’t have time, you’ve got a busy life, with obligations and responsibilities. Tell us about it, and we’ll see if we can help you think of some new, effective approaches to living a healthy life.

Monday, 25 February 2013

What's In a Name: The Fruit Series

Note to the reader: This post is part of “What’s in a Name,” a set of posts where we write about the stories behind the names of our collections/series. Such posts will appear from time to time and not every week. The first post can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/a8eqvzg

Today is February 25, 2013, a Monday. For some of our friends, it’s meatless Monday. Which is why we’re publishing this post today. 

You may ask, “What’s meatless Monday and what’s its connection with the Fruit series?” These are valid questions and we will answer them one at a time. But first, a snapshot of the situation we are in.

The world is eating more and more meat. The thing is, some people may be eating too much of it and this could be a problem, heath-wise. What’s more, the consumption of meat can be environmentally damaging, as a recent UN study suggests.




Meatless Monday is a response to the current set of circumstances. In a nutshell, it’s an “international movement to help people reduce their meat consumption.” Its supporters are growing in number, and they include celebrities and business tycoons.

The Fruit series, on the other hand, is about fruits, which are healthy meatless alternatives. That’s the connection between the two.

Equally important, the Series promotes the consumption of local fruits. This is because they’re fresher, tastier and hence better. In addition, eating local reduces food miles and transport-linked emissions, which is good for our planet.


The Fruit Series: He's wearing a white Blueberry Elan (top) and
an orange Honeydew Delight (bottom)

Please don’t get the Series wrong—it isn’t promoting vegetarianism. After all, we aren’t vegetarians ourselves—but we do go veg on certain days every month. Nevertheless, in the light of our current situation (as described above), we think a “demitarian” diet—that is, the halving of our meat consumption—makes plenty of sense. And if you think that’s going to adversely impact your energy level, think again—even legendary athletes are reducing or shunning meat. You should, of course, always consult your doctor first before you change your diet.

Ultimately, the Series’ main story is about personal and environmental health, and all the products in it are about that, too.


The Fruit Series: He's wearing a Blueberry Zing (top) and
a Blueberry Panache (bottom), both light blue

About the Nukleus Fruit Series


Blueberry, Honeydew, Mangosteen, Watermelon—Nukleus celebrates these super fruits in the Fruit Series for men. They're super because they taste great and are good for you.

The Fruit Series protects your health, too. Its products are made from the finest eco-materials such as organic cotton, Lenzing Tencel and Lenzing Modal. And they’re certified Oeko-Tex Standard 100—the world's highest standard for human ecological safety. Which means they’re great for all skin types, perfect for all-day wear.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

What's in a Name: The Water Series


People often tell us: “Your products have interesting names.” We’ll take it as a compliment.

The truth is, the names are also meaningful—they “tell” environmental stories. Admittedly, the stories don’t always jump out. So, to do justice to them, we’re going to write about and expand on them here and place them under the rubric, “What’s in a Name.” The plan is to write such posts often, perhaps not every week.


The Nukleus Water Series

We kick things off with “The Water Series.” There’s a reason why we’ve chosen this series as our starting point. First of all, 2013 is the International Year of Water Cooperation (IYWC). Second of all, it’s the year of the Water Snake. A mere coincidence? Maybe.

Anyway, the official slogan for IYWC is “Water, water everywhere, only if we share.” Which happens to be the key message of “The Water Series.”



In the Series, we tell the story of the Mekong, one of Asia’s great rivers. After she leaves her lofty birthplace in the Tibetan Plateau, she traverses six Asian nations—Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam—and vanishes into the South China Sea.

For the millions living in the Mekong basin, the river is life. They depend on her for food, water and their livelihoods. The six nations blessed with the Mekong’s bounty ought to wisely share her gifts among themselves. Upstream or downstream, they’re all in the same boat.

The imprudent sharing of resources may have dire consequences. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), there’re altogether 88 proposed dam developments in the Mekong region, spread unevenly among the six countries. If all come to fruition, it’s estimated that nearly 38% of the fish population—the primary source of protein for 60 million people—could be destroyed. There’re, of course, other impacts—you can learn more by watching this enlightening video.



We’re also told that the Mekong is secondly only to the Amazon in terms of fish biodiversity. It’s home to amazing creatures such as the Mekong giant catfish (the world’s largest freshwater fish species) and the Mekong giant stingray. Unbridled development can threaten their existence. Without them, the world would be a far less wonderful place. As Stuart Chapman, the Conservation Director for WWF’s Greater Mekong Programme has urged, “It’s important that we leave a living planet for the next generation.”

Thursday, 31 January 2013

How does Oeko-Tex Standard 100 work to keep you safe?


You’ve read so much about the goodness of Oeko-Tex. You’d naturally want to know how the whole thing works. Hence, this post, our third and final one on the subject.

It all starts with the following premise: If a clothing brand claims that its products are safe, one should be able to test the claim. But is there such a test? Fortunately for us, there is. It’s a battery of tests, to be exact. And the International Oeko-Tex Association decides what to test for.

Every year, the Association publishes a list of substances that are to be tested. Basically, the testing institutes accredited by the Association test for the following:

  • Legally banned and controlled substances; and
  • Substances known to be harmful to human health but are not yet legally controlled (some pesticides fall into this category).

A lab technician at one of the testing institutes

There’re several noteworthy characteristics about the tests. First, the greater the amount of skin contact the clothing has during use, the more stringent the tests. Second, when taken in their entirety, the tests often go well beyond the national legislations of individual countries, including Australia, Japan and those in the West. Third, they’re updated annually to ensure that they conform to the latest developments in science and technology. Finally, there’s transparency: clothing companies as well as consumers can easily find out what substances get tested.

The Standard is founded on a test-and-certification system. Clothing companies that want to get certified must make sure their products do not contain any of the listed substances at a concentration level that poses a health risk to humans. To ensure compliance, systematic as well as random tests are carried out by accredited and independent testing institutes on the companies’ products. (To learn more about Oeko-Tex, watch this video.)





You should also know this: A clothing brand can only get certified if its supply chain is Oeko-Tex Standard 100-certified. That is, the raw materials and the finished products, plus every stage in between, have to be tested and certified. For your information, the dyes and dyeing processes are part of the “every stage in between.” So are the buttons, zips, labels and other accessories. That’s how extensive the Standard is. And if any of the upstream processes isn’t certified, a clothing brand cannot attain certification. This is a reflection of Oeko-Tex’s modular principle: The whole is only as good as the sum of its parts


How do I know whether my favourite brand is Oeko-Tex Standard 100-certified?


An Oeko-Tex Standard 100 dummy logo

Easy. What you should look for is the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 logo (see inset) on the packaging. A word of clarification: What you see here is a dummy logo. A real one will have an alphanumeric code at the bottom left corner (as opposed to the zeroes you see here); this code represents the brand or the factory that made the clothes. A real one will also have the name of the testing institute at the bottom right corner.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Why Is Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Important to You?




Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is about safe-to-wear clothing. When people hear this for the first time, most react this way: “Aren’t our clothes safe?” It’s a legitimate response. The question is, how can you and I know for sure they are actually safe? The truth is, the production of clothing raw materials and the production of clothing can be chemically intensive; and some of the chemicals used in the two processes are detrimental to health. It’s then possible that the clothes we wear are unsafe. Here's a real example: research has shown that the poisonous and persistent pesticides applied during conventional cotton production can be detected in cotton clothing—these residual chemicals can leach into your skin and harm your health.

There’s then this other reaction: “I’m wearing clothes made from organic/eco-friendly material. They’re safe.” Such materials are, no doubt, good. But just because something is made from them doesn’t automatically mean it’s safe. The reason: if a factory uses the best and safest material but the wrong manufacturing process, the end product will still be a bad one—and “bad” here can mean unsafe. Hence, the manufacturing process must also be safe.

You may wonder, how bad can it get? Quite bad, actually. Take the dyeing process. Some dyes are carcinogenic and/or allergenic (for example, certain AZO dyes); and some contain heavy metals, substances that can build up in our bodies over time and cause serious health problems. Then there’s formaldehyde, which is used in wrinkle-free clothing, and is a known human carcinogen and allergen. Let’s not forget the phthalates, a family of chemicals which is frequently used in the production of soft plastic articles, printing and coatings—phthalates have been blamed for the big drop in male fertility globally over the past few decades. The list of nasty stuff is long and we can go on and on. The main point is this: clothing consumers like you and I are exposed to health risks.

Oeko-Tex Standard 100 helps us to differentiate the safe from the unsafe. In our next post, we will share with you how the Standard works to keep you safe.




Friday, 11 January 2013

Oeko-Tex Standard 100


In our last couple of posts, we wrote about Austria’s Lenzing Group and its amazing product, Tencel. If you will recall, Lenzing is the winner of multiple prestigious environmental awards in Europe. Besides that, the Group has something called Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification. Many consumers in this part of the world aren’t familiar with Oeko-Tex. This is unfortunate because it’s an important standard. In this post, we explain what it's about.



What is Oeko-Tex Standard 100? Firstly, it’s a standard and not an award. When we complain in our everyday language that something is not up to “standard,” it means that that thing has not met the “required or agreed level of quality or attainment” (as defined by my trusty old dictionary).

There are many standards today, some local, some international. Some of us have heard of ISO 9000. It’s an international standard for quality management, and it’s developed and published by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization. Another international standard that is increasingly popular is the ISO 14000 for environmental management.

Like the ISO 9000, the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is a type of standard. But unlike the ISO 9000, it’s an international standard for human ecological safety, and it’s developed and published by the International Oeko-Tex Association in Switzerland.

What does human ecological safety mean? In the context of this post, it simply means clothing safety. That is, if a piece of clothing has been certified Oeko-Tex Standard 100, it's safe to wear. Furthermore, Oeko-Tex is by most accounts the world’s highest standard for human ecological safety. Which means that Oeko-Tex-certified clothing is one of the safest—if not the safest—in the world. 

Why is safety so important to consumers? This is the big question, and we’ll answer it in our next post.