“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” - John Muir
This story kicks off the first instalment of our Wander With Us series where we bring more focus to the locations that inspire us to create our Sui garments. Not only do we treasure these places because of how beautiful their natural environment is, we also love the green values these cities or towns strive to uphold and are ingrained in their way of life.
Today, we visit Singapore, where our Sui heart was first discovered 2 years ago by Mahima, our founder, who discovered her green purpose and passion in slow fashion. Our story specifically focuses on Singapore’s Botanic Gardens, the main inspiration for our summer 2020 edit, ‘Tropical Sunshine’. It’s one of our favourite locations and provides the backdrop of our whole collection with many of its residing trees and plants being present on our garments through embroidery, print, and more.
We also touch on just why the existence of places like the Botanic Gardens are so important for us to cultivate and nurture. Conserving natural landscapes and plant species are integral in our fight against climate change, so we wanted to shed a little more light on why that is!
A brief history
In 1822, Sir Ramford Raffles, founder of modern Singapore, developed the first ‘Botanical and Experimental Garden’ at Fort Canning. Fast forward a few decades to 1859 and Singapore’s infamous Botanic Gardens was founded by an Agri-Horticultural society, it flourished into an important botanical institute, and, today, is managed by Singapore’s National Parks Board.
Through its existence, the Gardens were enormously important in fostering agricultural development, leading the way in fostering, experimenting, collecting and growing potentially useful plants. One of the earliest it produced was the Para Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) whose latex from the tree is the primary source of natural rubber, one of the Gardens’ most important successes.
Today, it continues to be an important landmark and was even dubbed an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015, the only botanic garden to exist on it’s list.
Favourite green spots
Being, essentially, a Singapore local and avid seeker of green spaces our founder, Mahima, in this section tells us more about her favourite spots in the Botanic Gardens she loves to wander and linger around and what makes them so special!
Mahima tells us more...
One of my favourite spots in the botanic gardens represented in many of our motifs such as the Palm Me Away peplum top and The Palm Valley skirt, the Palm Valley instantly connected with my green heart for it’s beautiful strong palms which smiles amidst the blue skies and sunshine. They’re a sight to watch in this tropical wonder and always take my breath away.
In the heart of the botanic gardens, lies this quaint little get-away covered with greens and peaceful sounds.
This green spot inspired our Rainforest wrap dress.
THE ORCHID GARDEN
Orchids are my new found love. I’ve lived in Singapore on and off for over 10 years now, but my love for this flower truly began a year ago after I discovered the Tiong Bahru flower market. It was this craving to fill my home with tropical goodness and no other flower but the orchid complemented the Monstera better. A few weeks after, I made my first trip to the Orchid Garden at the Botanical Gardens and got lost for a long time in Orchid Paradise.
The monstera plant has been key to our SUI journey right before the start, it took life on our very first Wild Heart shirt and became a part of our ethos from then on appearing in our most recently launched pieces like Monster Me Not top and trousers. The monstera plant has always reminded me of the rawness of nature, and it instantly connected with our story of being honest and open with our community.
The hibiscus flower became a favourite after our green heart designer Anukriti selected these to curate our prints with. Ever since, this flower has become a part of my nature spotting days. It’s gorgeous colours and shape are breathtaking and it was the reason why it took us over 1-1.5 months to finalise our hibiscus print.
One of our favourite hibiscus print pieces is our Hibiscusy off-the-shoulder top seen here.
THE BIRD OF PARADISE
These unique flowers are found all over Singapore, and are there to say hello during my daily walks. They are key to the green beauty of Singapore and their orange colour is one I’ve been awed by ever since I laid eyes on it. Birds of paradise are a flower I tend to also click a lot.The initial plan was to create a print around these, however we worked on a beautiful machine embroidered motif which you see on our Paradise handspun handwoven top.
The importance of gardens
Singapore’s Botanic Gardens has one very important trait that we should all be trying to nurture: biodiversity. This is defined as “the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, a high level of which is usually considered to be important and desirable.” And not only does it mean we get to enjoy a variety of life that thrives on our Earth, it also has been found to be beneficial to our health and living.
Why biodiversity is important:
Biodiverse ecosystems equals healthier humans... Research has found that disease outbreaks are closely linked with the degradation of nature. For example, about 70% of viral diseases have been spread from animals to humans as can be seen with the source of COVID-19 likely coming from Wuhan’s animal and fish market. It shows that wildlife trade that exists in many parts of the world can be detrimental to our health. Basically, how we treat animals translates into how we treat ourselves. Moreover, deforestation and global warming will also force many creatures to shift geographically. Mosquitoes that carry malaria could shift from one continent to another affecting a whole new population that may also not be equipped to handle the event.
Biodiversity can play a key part in combating climate change... In 2017, researchers discovered nature can deliver at least 30% of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 to prevent a climate catastrophe. Protecting biodiversity plays a crucial part in achieving these emission reductions. 11% of all greenhouse gas emissions also comes from deforestation. Conserving forests that are made up of millions of plants that store carbon in their tissue will help us greatly to avoid this.
Biodiversity is good for our economy… Around 40% of the world’s economy and 80% of the needs of those in poverty come from biological resources. So, occurrences like the bee population declining, which we depend on as pollinators, due to land degradation potentially puts about 577 billion dollars of annual global crops at risk - a potentially devastating loss to both the economy and human life. Millions of people all around the world depend on nature to provide their food, fuel medicines and more. A decline of it simply means a decline of our own livelihoods.
Biodiversity is an integral part of culture and identity... It’s no surprise that we are incredibly connected to nature. Plants and animals are a big part of our lives and it shows in, for example, how 231 different species are used as national symbols. A third of those, however, are threatened to become extinct. We protect entire parks and other forms of land in order to help them flourish as well as use them to educate others. Nature teaches us that all life is important, not to mention artists and designers (like ourselves) frequently use nature as a source of inspiration.
These are just a few but very important reasons why we should strive not only to do less harm to the Earth but also nurture it.
How you can support biodiversity
Nurturing biodiversity is something we can all practice ourselves in many different ways. Here are just a few tips:
- You can encourage the life of various species by providing for them, for example, build a bird or a bat house (depending on the wildlife that surrounds you) to give them a chance of flourishing.
- Leave only footprints behind. Wherever you roam in nature, make sure to leave it as you found it. In fact, leave it better. If you spot any litter, take it with you and dispose of it properly.
- Your own pets can affect your surrounding biodiversity. Domestic animals, especially cats, are predators of wild animals. In North America alone, cats have been estimated to kill tens of millions of birds each year, so be sure to monitor them where you can.
- Attract “good” insects by planting pollen and nectar plants.
- If you are aware of sensitive habitats, see if you are able to construct a fence to protect it from trampling or any other kinds of disturbances.
- Learn and then teach. Sharing your knowledge is just as important as learning yourself, you will also end up learning from others too who have different sources of info from you. Visit conservations, natural history museums, ecological parks and more to learn more about your surrounding ecosystems.
- Live a low emission lifestyle. Save as much electricity and power as you can in your daily life whether that’s turning off lights when you leave a room, opting to walk or ride a bike to where you need to go or making sure to have 5 minute showers to reduce water waste.
There’s so many ways you can make better, greener choices that benefit our planet, you can find even more tips here.
And finally, we would also encourage you to volunteer at or donate to conservations and charities that seek to help our wildlife/ecosystems that are at risk or threatened. Here are a few you can check out.
- ReefWatch Marine Conservation - based in Mumbai with a focus on conservation action and education, to support you can either volunteer or donate.
- Ranthambore National Park - to support this park you can check out their tour packages that also includes ones focused on specific interests like photography and education.
- WWF India - In their words, WWF seeks “To stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature” and therefore are involved in many projects that try to protect wildlife and our environment. Support them by volunteering, donating or even participating in their Young Conservationists programme.
- New Delhi Nature Society - focused on positive environmental action and education, this society works hard to invite New Delhi’s city dwellers to think more about our impact on our planet. Support by volunteering or donating.
- Singapore Botanic Gardens - inscribes a World Heritage site in 2015, these gardens are the first and only botanic gardens on the UNESCO list. Admission is free but you can attend any of their Education Programmes that will support them and help you learn more about the array of flora within the gardens.
- National Parks Board, Singapore - this institution manages many locations that champion biodiversity such as the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, and The National Biodiversity Centre. You can volunteer to support or check out the range of activities they host that provide more education on their sites.
- The ACRES Wildlife Rescue Centre - an animal protection charity that focuses on education and research all in the hopes of better treatment of our wildlife. Support them by donating, becoming a wildlife supporter to sponsor animals in need or volunteering.
- Wildlife Reserves Singapore - this self-funded organisation manages world-leading zoological institutions such as Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, and Singapore Zoo. They especially focus on the value and conservation of biodiversity. Support them by volunteering as well as participating in their educational programmes.
We hope this has encouraged you to think a little more about the topic of biodiversity and why it should be something we all take into account while we strive towards a greener future!