16 August 2016

To establish a fashion business with a sustainability agenda is a bold move. Until recently, the fashion industry has been designed and financed to prioritise the bottom dollar and pay no attention to environmental or social impacts. However, globally the game is changing and Australia is catching up fast.

When TEDx Sydney asked me to propose a one day adventure in Sydney with a group of people interested in sustainable fashion, I knew I wanted to explore small, start-ups and design studios. So a few weeks ago, I took a group of 12 people on a tour to visit three of the most exciting studios in Sydney.

The day started at the old Taubman’s paint factory in St. Peters, the home of Mighty Good Undies. The co-founder Elena described the journey to establish the underwear brand using a crowd-sourcing model. The brand focuses on organic cotton and fair labour and plans to eventually develop a closed-loop recycling system for old undies! The second stop was the Social Outfit in Newton, overseen by Jackie Ruddock. This social enterprise was established to provide training and work opportunities to recently-arrived migrants and refugees, through garment manufacturing. All the clothes are made on-site at the retail space in King St. and they also produce a range of digitally-printed scarves and fabrics in collaboration with local artists. The final stop was Citizen Wolf, in Surry Hills. Co-founders Eric and Zoltan explained how they set out to build a casual wear brand that disrupts the traditional tailoring business. Through a simple, streamlined ordering system the customer can customise a standard t-shirt to their own ‘perfect fit’. The tee is then cut out in the Citizen Wolf retail space and made up by local seamstresses in Redfern.

The whole adventure was very enriching and we got a real insight into the many aspects of sustainable fashion from an Oz perspective. The event was filmed by sponsor Toyota Prius and will be made available in a few weeks.

Image: still from animation by Social Outfit