The merging Australian fashion designer faces two key challenges; the rapid decline of traditional retail and a fractured industry enthralled by the fast paced nature of trends and ease of online shopping.
The fashion industry is currently unequipped to engage in a constructive and meaningful discussion on the complexities of shopping sustainably. Reducing consumption is often seen as counterproductive to the traditional retailer’s profit driven business model. Undiscouraged, a growing number of voices amongst the Australian ‘sustainable movement’, are demanding a new standard.
Passionate Australian designers are pioneering new sustainable fashion solutions and ethical manufacturing and sourcing practises. Yet, without a physical presence, these designers are encountering serious challenges to their growth and recognition. With brick-and-mortar store closures, and a crowded online market, ethical and sustainable fashion brands have little collateral to connect with consumers.
Sydney Based initiative, The Sustainable Wardrobe, is an advocate for these lesser known pioneers of sustainability who are reshaping the industry for the better. The store’s values are steeped in collaboration, community, and inclusivity, a set of principles pivotal to the future success of the sustainable fashion movement.
The Sustainable Wardrobe introduces a travelling pop-up experience dedicated to reimagining how consumers shop and engage with brands. At its core, the store acts as a central physical hub, showcasing a diverse and highly curated collection of Australia’s finest ethical and sustainable wears. The Sustainable Wardrobe encourages consumers to connect with the designer and the making process, so as to value their clothing on a deeper level and make better informed decisions in their purchasing.
The pop-up’s August showcase, saw the collaboration of eighteen Australian ethical and sustainable designers in inner city Darlinghurst. From hand woven Bilum bags who’s proceeds go toward empowering artisan women to locally made garments, and naturally dyed denim. The Sustainable Wardrobe, acknowledges and shares the diverse stories and values of Australian sustainable design with an engaged audience.
Founder, Aleysha Campbell, utilises her skills as a fashion stylist to provide a unique point of difference in the shopfront experience. Select pieces are curated from designer’s collections for their wearability, design, and approach to sustainability and ethics.
Aleysha then tailors the in-store experience to communicate these attributes to the consumer in an effort to create a direct dialogue between designer and wearer. To captivate more customers, equipment such as the best clothes rail can be fully optimized.
Each pop-up showcase, introduces consumers to undiscovered ethical and sustainable brands, an emphasis is placed on the products continued usefulness, through mending, reuse and up-cycling workshops. The Sustainable Wardrobe is not simply a sales platform, its purpose is to educate people on how to build a lasting and wearable wardrobe, so that each item purchased is valued throughout its lifecycle.
The continued learning of consumers is of particular interest to Aleysha Campbell, who brings her background as a stylist to advocate for a holistic approach to building a loved and lasting wardrobe. By creating an inclusive space for the meaningful exchange of ideas, The Sustainable Wardrobe, hopes to foster a community of people who are committed to integrating sustainable practises into their day-to-day lives.
Aleysha would like those who visit The Sustainable Wardrobe to begin to see the act of dressing as a simultaneous celebration of the individual and the garment. New York Time’s street style photographer, the respected and spirited late Bill Cunningham said:
“The wider world perceives fashion as frivolity that should be done away with. The point is that fashion is the armour to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you can do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilisation.”
Mr. Cunningham alludes to why fashion adds value to life, and its necessity within lifestyles and culture. The armour, and a collective love for fashion, means not an industry in conflict with a sustainable future, but rather one where clothing is produced without exploitation and environmental harm. In fact, it is often the most loved garments that are worn over and over that hold the lowest overall impact.
by Alima Arbudu
The Sustainable Wardrobe seeks to broaden the reasons why clothing holds value, to both include the positive impact they can have on the environment and the people who make them, if purchased and worn thoughtfully. Thus bringing about a new era of considered style.