Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Conscientious shopping: it’s a brand new cult

Conscientious shopping: it’s a brand new cult

Nicolas (left) and Desablin founded CULT in June.
Nicolas (left) and Desablin founded CULT in June. Athena Zelandonii

Conscientious shopping: it’s a brand new cult

Over the past few months, a pair of French entrepreneurs have drawn something of a cult following, building on a trend in Phnom Penh: socially responsible shopping.

Their events – dubbed “CULT”, and launched in June – bring ethics-conscious brands from across Cambodia together under one roof. Last night, they hosted their largest event yet.

Katia Nicolas and Ludivine Desablin are business owners themselves. Nicolas has her own ethical fashion label, Good Krama, and Desablin runs the second-hand shop Bee Vintage and Craft, which aims to increase local re-use and up-cycling. The pair met at a pop-up event in March, and decided to start a project together.

They realised they had the opportunity to do more good, bringing the brands to a bigger customer base. Often, small brands don’t even have a brick-and-mortar shop. (Good Krama is one of those that does not.)

“There are all these great brands, spread all over Cambodia, and just a bunch of stores hidden all over the city,” Nicolas says. “People don’t necessarily know where to go or how to buy locally, hand-made things, because it’s hidden everywhere.”

The pair are part of a growing movement that is rethinking the fashion industry – at least locally. Such “slow fashion” brands aim for products that are locally made, sustainable and socially beneficial. Nicolas and Desablin reckon there are hundreds of “ethical” brands in Cambodia.

“We get messages almost every day [from interested brands],” says Nicolas. Of course, an “ethical” label is often self-determined – and in some cases could be misleading. But for their part, Nicolas and Desablin have a strict definition. To participate in CULT, a brand must be an established social enterprise and be environmentally conscious along all parts of its production line.

Last night’s CULT line-up featured 12 brands – and not just clothes – including recently launched fashion line Jungle and Jardin, Amboh espadrilles and Jiva Probiotics.

So far, each CULT event has drawn crowds of more than 200. There are plenty of expats, but Nicolas says the Cambodian contingent is growing.

“There’s a bunch of locals, because a lot of these businesses are social enterprises, and they have their own network,” she says.

Ultimately, CULT might serve as a space for all sorts of do-gooders to come together, as well as a place for ethical brands to explain just what it is that they do.

“They can talk about how they produce, what they produce and what the story is behind their products,” Nicolas says. “That’s what’s important.”

CULT (Cambodia’s Ultimate Lifestyle Trade) runs monthly, with a rotating location and set of brands. Its fourth edition will be held on October 13.

MOST VIEWED

  • Some jobs off limits to foreigners from August

    Beginning from the second week of August, foreigners will be banned from driving taxis and tuk-tuks, as well as being motorcycle delivery drivers, street food vendors, hairdressers and product distributors among other lower-income jobs. Some white-collar jobs such as the head of human resources will

  • Chinese-owned shops are on the rise in central Phnom Penh

    Informal businesses owned by Chinese nationals are on the rise in central Phnom Penh, especially in Tonle Bassac commune, surrounding Koh Pich. Such businesses have sprung up notably in Central Market, Orussey Market, Sovanna Shopping Mall, Rattana Plaza, as well as Kakab commune across from

  • Sihanoukville authorities find 83 rubbish-packed containers

    Eighty-three containers packed with rubbish were broken open at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port by joint authorities on Tuesday. The origin of the containers has yet to be ascertained, Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said. Pheaktra, who is also the ministry’s secretary of state,

  • ‘Cambodia Democracy Act’ passed by US House

    The US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on Monday, passed the “HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act”, also known as the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. If signed off by th US president, the bill would allow two major sets of action to be taken against high-ranking