Continuing on the 'ethical, natural and local' theme a second vegan friendly clothing label Bestowed was created in 2011 that uses only pure prewashed cotton fabrics. This quickly followed into the launch of the online boutique 'Sustainable Fashion' at the end of 2012.
The following are key factors we feel passionate about throughout our years of manufacturing that enable us to significantly reduce the impact of your new clothing and accessory purchases.
Every product on Sustainable Fashion is made in Australia. This is at the core of ethical production we think, as all our makers work locally and experience the same living standards and wages that we are lucky enough to enjoy. Working within our own area means any shipping between us and suppliers is greatly reduced also.
A 5kW solar power system was installed in 2014 at our home studio which supplies almost 90% of our needs in summer, as we use the energy produced throughout the day. The remaining power we use is sourced from GreenPower, so supports the increasing uptake of renewables in Australia.
RAINWATERPrewashing the majority of our garments means they arrive exactly how you expect them to be after the first time you wash them. It makes the garment nicer as any excess dyes are removed and you know any shrinkage that may occur has taken place already. Our sustainably harvested rainwater at our home studio is filtered and we use a biodegradable washing detergent to protect our local waterways.
Along with using rainwater in our laundry, other parts of our home and garden use tank water. This sees the water use at our home studio being half the average amount used when compared to a similar household alone here in Brisbane, Australia.
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
Options to source recycled or biodegradable materials are chosen for every part of the day to day running of our business. This extends from using recycled paper and biodegradable options for all packaging, to the composting of all organic waste on site. While the technology for the recycling of textile waste is emerging in Australia, we repurpose ends of rolls for Sarah's 'Archive project' and incorporate the clever use of patches and pockets with off-cuts from the cutting table.
Polyester and nylon in all its forms are basically plastic and shed microfibres into waterways every time they are washed. We never use synthetic textiles for this reason, as well as the fact they are non-renewable.
Along with modern cellulose based textiles such as cupro, modal and tencel that have close looped systems where the majority of water can be reused, the choice of organic cotton, bamboo and ethical merino are key sustainable fabric choices for our Australian made clothing collections.
Not only are natural fibres better for the environment but they also feel much nicer against your skin, allowing it to breathe. This can mean caring for your natural fibres requires a little more awareness to how they change with washing and wearing, often loosening a little from the warmth of your body when wearing for example. To help understand these things we provide extra detail in our product descriptions and regularly write journal stories to educate customers unfamiliar with natural textiles.
CARE AND REPAIR
Surprisingly the largest impact a garment has on the environment happens once it starts being worn by you. This of course assumes you wash and wear your garment for years to come as we would expect (unlike the disposable nature of fast fashion), but the energy to continue washing and drying your garment is a significant contribution. This is why we design garments that are easy care, and do not sell garments that are dry clean only.
A simple hand wash or gentle machine wash with a biodegradable detergent in cold water will suit almost all our garments (merino is the only fibre that needs a warm wash). We also recommend to reduce the spin speed on your washing machine if possible. This leaves a little more water in the garment, but is gentler, and after air drying will reduce any wrinkles and eliminate the need for any ironing (which is energy intensive and a pretty boring chore!).
Supporting environmental causes has been part of our business ethos since the very beginning. The current organisations we donate regularly to include the Australian Marine Conservation Society and Rainforest Rescue. They work to protect and preserve the unique biodiversity here in our home state of Queensland where we have a rich variety of flora and fauna that need protecting. It's another way we like to show our commitment to preserving our planet.
These values are central to what we believe is an ethical and sustainable approach to fashion. New items of clothing should be chosen with the intention of wearing them out and cared for over time, rather than disposed after only a few wears. Our family is personally involved with every part of the process needed to create the garments available on Sustainable Fashion, including their design and all the way to the packing and shipping of your orders, which means we truly care about every garment we sell and it's impact in the long term.