ETHICAL & SUSTAINABLE
These two words are central to everything we do here at Sustainable Fashion, but what do they really mean?
ETHICS IS TREATING PEOPLE EQUALLY
We are dedicated to working in our local community. Everyone involved in making your clothing is located in Brisbane, Australia. As all our products are 100% Australian made this means everyone in our supply chain enjoys the same standard of living. Our garments are sewn by just one or two people from start to finish, with everyone working from a home studio and choosing their own working conditions. No factories are needed to be monitored because there are none. We work directly with the sewers, supplying everything they need to sew our garments, and being local means we can drive to pick up the finished garments from them too!
We pay some 20 - 50 times the wages that the majority of sewers around the world receive. Our 2 local sewers receive on average 10% of the price you pay, with this figure quoted at 0.5 - 3% for large fashion labels.
Image of our local area on the outskirts of Brisbane
We source our woven fabrics from local agents, though our knits are actually made in Australia (something people are often surprised by). Our local knits are all high quality and made under strict environmental standards (including ISO9001 and ISO14001) which includes regular monitoring of waste water and one mill also has Australian organic certification.
So producing locally where everyone has the same standard of living is the best way to achieve equality we think, this is after all a fundamental characteristic of ethical behaviour. We are pretty proud as a small family business that we have donated over $50,000 to local charities in the last 4 years too, giving back to your community another ethical behaviour we feel is important.
SUSTAINABLE MEANS LESS IMPACT
Producing locally is central to sustainability also. Our garments do not travel long distances or need to be individually wrapped in any packaging at all during production. Over the last 15 years of being in business we have slowly renovated and added solar power plus rainwater tanks to reduce our environmental impact. We now operate a business from our home that uses almost half the water and electricity than the average household alone uses here in Brisbane. Our architect has won 2 sustainability awards for our renovations too!
A few images of our home studio. Read more about our Sustainability award here (main photo by Paul Dielemans)
So by significantly reducing the resources used to produce your clothing while minimising waste and all while operating from our home, we have been able to showcase what sustainability truly means as it is entwined in our everyday living. Yes we compost, have a worm farm, vegetable patch, recycle, use recycled packaging, energy efficient appliances and lighting, as well as solar and rainwater (all things that are becoming more commonplace now which is exciting to see!).
We always welcome discussion about ethics and sustainability, as this is how we all learn about new ways of doing things and move forward in reducing waste and our use of non-renewable resources. These words are more than 'feel good' marketing terms to us. Many fashion labels now claim to have 'ethical' production and there is much talk about what makes a living or fair wage for sewers around the world. Our belief in working locally and creating equal interactions is where we feel we can add something a little different to the debate.
We find most large fashion labels tend to focus on some minor sustainability initiatives to recycle or reduce waste, sometimes with goals many years away, rather than discussing what can be done now or how much their workers are paid. This is really the bottom line and treating the planet, profits and people equally is a future we would like to see.
We tried to keep the information on the lighter side here (we still want fashion to be fun after all) so if you do want to know any further information you can contact us here.
We don't pretend to have all the answers, there are more and more great resources available, so we have listed a few of our favourites below (not surprisingly with an Australian emphasis).
Peppermint is a local Brisbane mag that has been writing about all things ethical and sustainable for 10 years now. Check out their website and support this great publication.
Good on You is an app to help you decide on how clothing labels rate for ethics with some good blog stories on 'The Good Edit' to help you along too.
Fashion Revolution started the awareness campaign 'who made your clothes' and the push for better working conditions for textile workers around the world after the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013.
RMIT University has compiled a reading list of reports related to Sustainable Fashion and Textiles.
The Ellen Macarthur Foundation is working to promote our transition to a circular economy. Download the report on 'A new textiles economy' for a thorough read on the latest thinking.
We hope this helps people understand a little more about the consideration given to how we make your clothes and help continue the debate about the future of sustainability in the fashion industry.
Thanks for reading,