Sunday, February 3, 2013


Above PHOTO of me by CAMILLE GOWER. 

'Tailoring Tomorrow' was an event held in Melbourne on the 17th of January, hosted by Peppermint Magazine in partnership with Billy Blue College of Design. 

The event aimed to celebrate and discuss local, sustainable fashion and was MC'd by Director of Sustainable Fashion Australia, Lara McPherson. It featured a panel of really interesting people from the industry, including:

Simon McRae from Ethical Clothing Australia, Julia Haselhorst from the TFIA Hub, Sustainability Advocate Eloise Bishop, Kelly Elkin of sleepwear label ALAS, Alex Trimmer of SOSUME Clothing and Australian eco-fashion designer Rachael Cassar.  



Eloise was the first to speak on the night and she focused on the responsibility that businesses have to ensuring their business models are both ethical and sustainable. I found Eloise's presentation particularly thought provoking and thought it'd be nice to share with you a few of the key points raised:

She stated that:

- Businesses must balance their focus on growth with their focus on sustainability/ethics. 
- The Government should legislate/penalise businesses that have negative environmental impacts (e.g. large amounts of textiles being sent to landfill).
- Businesses should be exposed for unethical practices, as public scrutiny can often influence them to do the right thing.  
- There are more and more consumers conscious of their consumption habits, which presents opportunities for businesses to appeal to a growing market. 

Eloise also discussed:

Design for Sustainability - a solution to design waste.

She used TOPSHOP's Reclaim To Wear initiative as an example of design for sustainability.

'The TOPSHOP design team have collaborated with Reclaim To Wear to produce a collection of fashion pieces made entirely from beautiful fabrics that were left over from previous collections - this zero waste method creates both an interesting design challenge and helps to protect the environment.' - TOPSHOP

For more information, click here.

Raw Materials - the use of certified materials/fabrics, and less chemicals/dyes.

H&M now has a Conscious Collection, which is made from only sustainable materials such as organic cotton, Tencel, and recycled polyester. This fashion powerhouse is actually the number one user of organic cotton worldwide and has been working with its suppliers to create water conscious denim - it's stated on H&M's website that the company has so far saved 300 million litres of water since developing this initiative. 

'Our vision is that all business operations shall be run in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.' - H&M 

For more information, click here.

Production - including social compliance, codes of practice, auditing, and third party certification.

Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA), as mentioned in many of my previous posts, is a third party certification working with Australian fashion labels. Eloise highlighted the importance of companies working towards ensuring their supply chains are ethical, and also the importance of being fully transparent and aware of the processes behind a product. 

Packaging - decreasing waste & negative impacts on the environment. E.G. Biodegradable materials, sustainable printing options, and smarter ways of packaging products. 

She used the example of Puma's Clever Little Bag, which is a line of more sustainable packaging. 

For more information, click here.

Consumer use - how one treats/protects a product (this includes washing, dyeing etc.)

Various companies are beginning to seriously consider the ways in which their products could become longer lasting. One of the considerations is offering repair services to customers so a garment does not just become disposed of when in need of repair.

This particular issue is about engaging the consumer, and encouraging the care of a product. 

End of life - where does it go? Can the materials be given another life? 

Particular design labels are opening up second-hand stores to offer customers the chance to sell garments on a commission basis. Eloise used the example of Filippa K, which opened a second-hand store in 2008. 

As stated on their website, the second-hand store is 'part of a wider programme of environmental work and will be run on a not-for-profit basis by the company.'

"We are incredibly proud to be able to work with sustainability in this way. The fact that the superb quality and design of our products enable us to operate a second-hand concept is very much in line with the things for which Filippa K stands." - Filippa Knutsson, Creative Director.

For more information, click here. 

Challenges - there are various challenges/issues which stem from the term 'sustainability' being linked with fashion and business in general. 

1) "Greenwashing" is a notion commonly associated with companies using sustainable terminology in an effort to sell their products. They give the illusion that their products are sustainable when in reality they're just making claims that have no real integrity. 

Greenwashing definition - the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.

'The Sins of Greenwashing' report was produced by TerraChoice and deals with this kind of deception. Check out the report here.

2) How can one actually measure levels of sustainability? The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is 'working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world.' 

For more information, click here. 

3) The need for businesses to meet customer needs. Businesses must contemplate ways of being sustainable whilst also keeping pricing and design in mind - garments still need to look good and be affordable to the general public. It's a big learning curve. 


It's really wonderful seeing events such as this not only taking place, but also attracting a wide range of interested/ing and passionate people. Congratulations to all those involved for organising this successful evening!

Rachael Cassar designs - image VIA here
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