Makers for fashion revolution

My journey into sustainable fashion started early - although I didn’t realise it at the time. When I was a kid, my mum was always hunting through racks of clothes at op shops (you might know them better as charity shops or thrift stores) looking for a good find. I didn’t really understand the appeal at the time and valued the clothes we bought from high street shops much more than these second hand finds. When I started working, as a teenager, I would save up my money and go on a shopping spree in the local fast-fashion chain store, without a second thought as to where these clothes came from (at the time I had never even the heard the term ‘fast-fashion’), leaving the op shops far behind.

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It wasn’t until my early twenties that I started seeing the value of buying second hand, and understood the feeling of joy you get from finding something just perfect amongst the racks of clothes (my very small budget at this time is probably what helped me see the light). Around this time, while at university, I became aware of, and very interested in, the social and environmental impacts of the global fashion industry. Through a second-year subject related to the ethics of the fashion industry, I started learning about the way in which clothing is made and how this impacts both the people making it and the planet we inhabit. I am ashamed to say that I hadn’t put too much thought into these issues prior to this moment. I was utterly overwhelmed by all the information I was learning and had no idea what to do with it. For a little while I thought it might be best to do nothing at all - not produce any new clothes, limit what I bought, and I guess just put my head in the sand, and try to get on with it.

Over time though, the feeling of overwhelm dissipated and I started to become inspired by more tangible ways I could continue creating, whilst also exploring the issues that I knew I would never get out of my mind. I started thinking about the clothing in my own wardrobe and realised that the pieces that were special or had a story, were the ones I loved and took better care of. I started thinking about how I could encourage others to create and foster a deeper relationship with the clothing they wear, by creating these stories with the pieces in their wardrobes. Since then, the desire to encourage a long-lasting bond between wearer and garment, has been the foundation of all my creative work. I also realised that if garments are made well, we tend to take better care of them. We form stronger relationships with them, loving them, caring for them, mending them and cherishing them long into the future.

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When I finished university I moved to London to gain experience in the industry. I was lucky enough to land an internship with an online platform that supports and promotes ethical fashion, where I got to delve deeper into this world - connecting with designers, makers and researchers in the space. It was in this role that I took part in the first Fashion Revolution Day in 2014. We spent a day in a pop-up store doing mending workshops for anyone who wanted to come in, and I realised what a difference it can make to share our skills and our knowledge about these issues with others.

When I moved back to Sydney in 2015 I wanted to continue being part of the Fashion Revolution movement. Being far from London and the people in the community I knew, I decided to see who I could connect with online. I had started In the Folds six months before and had begun connecting with a lot of makers on Instagram. Although there were small pockets of people starting to talk about these issues in the home sewing space, there wasn’t as much conversation about it as I would have liked. This inspired me to start the Makers for Fashion Revolution challenge. With the power of Instagram and a few hashtags, for the week of Fashion Revolution I encouraged makers to share and discuss issues related to ethical and sustainable practices in both the fashion industry and the home sewing space, by sharing daily prompts to encourage conversation and reflection. There is now more than 5000 posts tagged when you search the ‘makersforfashrev’ hashtag. As my platform grows, I find it more and more important to continue encouraging conversations about the people making our clothes, and if it’s us making our clothes, thinking about the environmental impact of our decisions.

Want to get involved? Head over the Fashion Revolution website for more details about the movement. While you’re there, print this sign so that you’re ready to spread the word with us in April.

Would you like to know more? Check out this interview I did with Spoonflower about Makers for Fashion Revolution.