Business

Fashion for good

Sustainable fashion is very important to the women behind a number of Perth-based outlets.

Love Thread Project aims to use fashion to combat social injustice against women, particularly in Bali, and to this end has created the clothing label Love Thread & Co.

Tops by Love Thread & Co. Photo by Anna Fielding

Founder Angeline Lloyd said the label aims to provide a transparent process throughout its production and supply chain.

“Our clothes are made in Bali where we work directly with our artisans to ensure there’s no unfair or unsafe labour that goes into making our clothes,” Ms Lloyd said.

“Our initiative takes a holistic approach to highlighting our social responsibility to ensure our fashion consumption does not come at the cost of the exploitation of others.”

The Council of Textiles and Fashion Industries of Australia shows that 92 per cent of clothes sold in Australia are made in and imported from China, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Public Relations and Partnership Manager for Love Thread Project, Dhivashini  Thangathurai, said the issue of “fast-fashion” brands exploiting workers is something people need to think about.

“There are a large number of Australian brands that have their products made in popular tourist destinations like Bali,” Ms Thangathurai said.

“How many people from Perth would have travelled to Bali and had no idea that exploitation like this is going on behind the scenes.”

Ms Thangathurai said tourists often unknowingly support this exploitation by buying clothes in Bali or by supporting brands that mistreat their workers.

Dhivashini Thangathurai, Love Thread Project. Photo by Anna Fielding

“The public need to be educated about this issue, which is what we are trying to do with Love Thread Project,” she said.

In the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report from Baptist World Aid, 106 companies were assessed and given an A to F grade based on the strength of their systems to mitigate against the risks of forced labour, child labour and exploitation in their supply chains.

The report found that 93 per cent of companies do not know where their cotton is sourced from, 55 per cent do not trace their raw material suppliers and only 48 per cent are investing in paying fairer wages to their workers.

The report also shows there are more than 40 million workers employed in manufacturing apparel and textiles across the Asia-Pacific region. The vast majority of these workers’ wages remaining at levels well below what they need to lift them and their families out of poverty.

Perth-based jewellery label Mountain and Moon is another brand that says it tries to create fashion in an ethical manner.

Mountain and Moon works with artisans and women’s groups across India.

Audrey Allen, co-creator of Mountain and Moon, says her mission is to create something that is beautiful, but also made in a beautiful and ethical way.

“We wanted to do things differently and in a way that made us proud,” Ms Allen said.

“It was important to us that we could sleep easy at night knowing that we weren’t contributing in a negative way and sacrificing our morals.”

Ms Allen says education is the key to increasing knowledge and understanding about fashion manufacturing and helping consumers make ethical choices.

“Fashion is something that is in everyone’s lives on an everyday basis, whether you choose to subscribe to it or not,” Ms Allen said.

“So when thinking about what clothes and accessories you choose to wear … why wouldn’t you care about the way they were manufactured?”

In the past year the percentage of Australian fashion companies that published full supplier lists has increased from 16 per cent to 26 per cent.

At the 2017 Copenhagen Fashion Summit held on May 11, the sustainability or ‘pulse’ of the fashion industry was rated at only 32 out of 100.

The Pulse Report presented at the summit shows that apparel consumption is projected to rise by 63 per cent to 102 million tonnes by 2030, increasing 
the need for the fashion industry to address its environmental and social footprint.

While the report reflects that positive changes are being made, it also highlights that 
the industry needs to prioritise environmental, social and ethical improvements.

Local creative consultant, Claire Muelleris another member of the Perth fashion community with a professional interest in ethical fashion.

Ms Mueller said there are positive discussions and changes happening globally but the industry will not change overnight.

“I think people should be responsible about knowing what their personal impact is,” she said

“It comes down to transparency, responsibility, taking ownership of achievable goals and actively making changes however and wherever one can, as both individual fashion consumers – that’s all of us – we all wear clothes, and as an industry,” Ms Mueller said.

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