Fast Fashion No More

By Tyla Els

It’s no lie that many of us are addicted to buying new clothes, even more so if it’s cheap and easy. But too many people are failing to recognise the importance of buying and supporting sustainable and ethically-made clothing from brands that are doing their best to help our environment. 

With a constantly increasing customer demand and more people looking further into the process behind the clothes they wear, many Australian brands, both giants and smaller independent companies are following the trend of sustainability in manufacturing, packaging and creative processes. 

Recent statistics show that on average, each Australian buys more than 27 kilograms of textiles annually with approximately 23 kilos of this landing up in the landfill, some taking up to 50 years to break down due to synthetic fibres and petroleum that is in most ‘fast fashion’ (ecowarriorprincess.net). This has huge environmental consequences, including increasing amounts of greenhouse gasses, energy, and water.  

 

SUSTAINABLE AUSTRALIAN BRANDS 

 

The Social Outfit

@thesocialoutfit

We spoke to Camilla Schippa CEO of sustainable Sydney brand, The Social Outfit’, about what she calls her “social enterprise celebrating multiculturalism and creativity and a fashion label with a difference”. 

What was the inspiration for creating a sustainable & ethical brand?

For us, ethical fashion is a vehicle for social change. Our key aim was and continues to be, to support people from new migrant and refugees communities, especially women, by providing them with training and employment. We knew that refugees often come with incredible sewing skills, along with creativity and motivation. As such, we set out to build on their existing skills so not everything has to be new for them. We expose them to Australian workplace standards and practices, ensure they improve on their English skills and build their confidence thereby increasing their future employability. 

How is your brand sustainable? 

At The Social Outfit, we work hard to contribute to sustainability in as many ways as we can. 

Because we manufacture on-site, we can let customer response guide our production, meaning less wasted materials, and very small amounts of excess stock. Our clothes are of high quality, made to be loved and worn for a long time.

We are lucky to have partnered with Australian fashion greats like Romance Was Born, Carla Zampatti, Bianca Spender, Linda Jackson, Easton Pearson, and many more. Our industry supporters donate end of roll fabrics and leftover trims, which we then incorporate into our garment production and sewing school. This enables us to make really special, limited edition pieces while helping the environment. So far, we have been able to save over 4.5 tonnes of textile waste from landfill!

Another large part of our work is creating exclusive print collaborations with the refugee and new migrant community. This involves printing onto new materials, so we work with Ethical Clothing Australia accredited suppliers to do so. Next State Print provides our organic cotton and Think Positive Prints provides our silk crepe de chine (printed just a few suburbs away from us in Sydney!) Of course, our own work is accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, too.

We prioritise recyclable and compostable packaging both in store and for our online sales. 

Last but not least, our own store features a floor made of marble and exotic stones off-cuts. They were left over from residential jobs in the industry, which would otherwise have been destined for landfill. And our display pods and sales counter are made out of converted cardboard fabric rolls. 

Are there any concerns or challenges with a sustainable brand?

The demand is growing but the challenge is pricing. Consumers need to learn that by spending more for an item of sustainable clothing they are ultimately saving because we all pay a high price for the low cost of fast fashion. The food industry is slowly leading the way, fashion is next in line.

Organic Crew

@organic.crew

Mel Lechte, founder of sustainable brand, Organic Crew, spoke to us about the importance of educating others about ethical clothing and the consequences that fast fashion come with. 

Mel and Organic Crew co-founder, Bannie Williams
Mel and Organic Crew co-founder, Bannie Williams. Photo: Estliving

 

What was the inspiration for creating a sustainable & ethical brand?

I directly saw the impact of fast fashion. I visited factories and saw the impact on the people. The impact on the environment is devastating. We cannot continue to consume the way we are and expect the planet to go on .. something has to give. Education is my biggest motivation in starting this brand, to make a small difference in creating change. 

Is your brand sustainable / environmentally friendly? 

Most of it.. we are 95% organic – besides some linen (which is a sustainable fabric) and certified GOTS. We are certified by Ethical Clothing Australia. I can trace the clothing from seed to store.. I have visited the farms in India that grow our cotton, I see the people who sew our garments and we value transparency. Many people don’t realise that organic cotton only uses rain water.. not irrigation. It is very environmentally friendly, chemically free and natural. Zero plastic! 

https://instagram.com/thesocialoutfit/

Just how important do you believe it is that the fashion industry thinks about sustainability?

Critical – we cannot continue to dump into landfill in third world countries. We need to be mindful consumers not mindless, wasteful polluters! The fashion industry must lead the way by creating more sustainable, natural products as it’s harmful to us and the environment- we are all consuming plastic in water, in our food and in our clothing!! 

 

As we hopefully begin to bid farewell to fast fashion it is important to know the difference that can be made by shopping sustainably. Not only is the environment being saved from toxic waste and pesticides. Your carbon footprint will also be reduced,  your clothes will be unique and of only the best quality fabrics. 

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