Disposable fashion, online shopping, and meeting the maker
Eloise Bishop, an ambassador for ethical brands and practices, welcomed a crowd of Melbourne’s environmentally conscious at a sustainable fashion forum during Melbourne Spring Fashion Week.
Bishop announced some shocking facts and figures before she picked the seams of three panellists’ brains: Karen Resicheck, Susan Dimasi and Matt Thomson.
Consumers send endless kilograms of goods and packaging to their landfill each year. Even many of the second-hand items sent to your local op shop can end up as waste when their quality is too poor to sell.
A growing interest in zero waste patterns and sustainable dying and production techniques is helping expand Australia’s eco fashion industry.
Although these technologies are developing and attitudes are evolving, the panellists believe the next big step is one away from disposable fashion.
Susan Dimasi, founder of Materialbyproduct, said that there is a place for “fast fashion”, as it allows investment buying to feel special.
Matt Thomson is a former engineering student who has built up his own company, Mattt Bags. Matt opens his doors to buyers who want to be involved in the design process and tries to repair products for clients long after they’ve taken them home. He feels that bags need to be more of a long-term buy, and it’s great if designers can be in it for the long haul.
This sparked a debate about the differing attitudes between generations. Our grandparents were taught to make do and mend. Now we commit to an alternative two-step process – throw out and browse.
Creator of Alice Euphemia, Karen Reischeck, hosted an event where customers brought in old purchases to be mended by their original makers. She reflected on the experience as a rewarding and exhausting experiment.
There are a few awkward contradictions creating tension in the industry at the moment. One is between this idea of helping pieces last and wanting a steady commercial profit. The other is between the aspiration to go back to some of these endearing old-fashioned methods and the need to progress to online retail.
The ‘meet your maker’ idea is inspiring and influential. Companies like Bento have provided customers with a list of where they have sourced the fabric and workers to create their garments.
This growing desire for transparency, however, is difficult to authentically stick to when moving across into online sales. Bishop soothed the audience’s fears by insisting that while “online shopping will change how we shop forever, this is an opportunity for the Australian fashion industry to adapt and have a unique edge by leading in the online and ethical sectors”.