Many words that get tossed about when it comes to talking about fashion – ethical, sustainable, slow, green. On this website, we use ethical values to help you search for designers you may be interested in.
What are these values and why are they important? Well, no one designer or label is going to be able to be across everything, so it can be great to shop your values.
Identify the values that are most important to you. We recommend starting with one and then layering on more if that becomes an option. At this stage on Slow Wardrobe, our Directory focuses on locally made for both Australia and New Zealand and we highlight local labels manufacturing overseas in our Articles section.
Workers are paid a minimum wage, have safe working conditions and are treated right. These manufacturers should be accredited by a globally recognised body. When looking locally, you can check out Ethical Clothing Australia.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions about who made your clothes, especially if you are interested in small local designers who may not yet have a form of accreditation. Chances are, the designer made your clothes themselves. If not, they have a very close relationship with the people who did.
Locally made is something that is very important to us here at Slow Wardrobe. Generally, locally made gives better access to product knowledge, supporting your local community, and to be honest reducing your carbon footprint. Plus, you have the added bonus of developing a personal relationship with the designer who is also potentially the maker. It is also important to maintain a demand for local businesses: offering services to support Australian made labels, so buy local and keep the industry alive.
Made to order
Made to order offers a service which only produces garments when a client purchases a garment. The made to order model reduces waste and offers an alternative to bulk production – garments can be altered to suit the client / fabric selected by the client. In a space where fast is the normal, it can be so special to slow this process right down.
The amount of waste produced is thought about throughout the whole process, so only a small amount of material is thrown away or sent to textile recyclers. Designers may use zero waste pattern cutting, only produce made to order, donate material scraps or make accessories like scrunchies.
There are also many small designers focused on using ‘deadstock’ fabric. Deadstock fabric is leftover fabric that would otherwise go to landfill or be destroyed. Small designers may use this as a way of accessing fabrics that they may otherwise be unable to afford due to minimum orders.
Brands that give back, offering training and/or employment opportunities to disadvantaged groups and communities, putting a percentage of sales or profits towards a charity.
Sustainable fashion attempts to minimise the impact that the product has on the environment both during manufacture and long term. Designers will consider the materials they use such as organic fabrics, recycled fabrics, hemp, biodegradable materials, closed loop viscose, low impact and natural dyes.
Brands may also consider how their stores or factories are powered, how their goods are transported or posted, and what kind of packing they use.
Brands are able to trace the piece of clothing from the maker right back to the raw materials. There are also brands who are openly stating where everything used to make a piece of clothing is coming from – fabrics, fastenings, tags, threads. They may even go so far as breaking down the costs for you to show where the money you spend goes.
As an aside, here you may like to look at transparent as being honest. I have found many local designers who welcome engagement with the client and are available to answer questions you may have. Ask them questions, send them an email and they will give you an honest answer. It may not always be the answer you want but the honesty is there and enables you to build a relationship with them.
No animals – no leather, fur, feathers…
Locally made businesses need support in order to survive up against the big offshore companies and labels. We need to all work together to bring industry back to Australia, and shopping locally made fashion is the perfect example of how we can make a difference.
Andria and Sinead, Limb the Label
Generally locally made gives better access to product knowledge, supporting your local community, and to be honest reducing your carbon footprint.