So, who made your clothes? That’s the question local Empire Rose designer and owner Kathryn Cizeika is asking. Kathryn and several local womenswear designers weigh in on this global issue and what their brands are doing in this space.
“Like many others, I believe fast fashion comes at a greater cost than the price-tag on the garment. There is a huge environmental and human cost at the heart of fast fashion, but it's heartening to see that consumers are becoming more educated on the matter and the industry processes are being exposed,” says Kathryn Cizeika who is entering her 22nd year of Empire Rose.
“Over the last five years I've seen a noticeable shift in the way we view and talk about fast fashion; we still have a long way to go, but it's a start.”
Kathryn manufactures her Empire Rose designs in-house at her North Fremantle studio, where her talented team of artisan machinists and seamstresses are based. Kathryn says that not only does producing locally enable her to always have an ethical, sustainable practice, but it keeps the industry alive by creating job opportunities for young people in the fashion industry.
Based in Claremont, ready-to-wear WA label Meraki Official is renowned for glamourous designs that are feminine and timeless.
“We are proudly made in WA and we employ a local team and support local producers as our first choice,” says Meraki Official creative director Alvin Fernandez. “I think in the current state of things globally it has made everyone re-think the way we do business; sustainable fashion is something we have always been putting into action in the way we produce.”
To save on fabrics and wastage, Alvin works closely with the Meraki Official in-house team of pattern makers when developing new styles and the way designs are cut.
“Most of the left over off cuts are donated to charities or schools to re-use. It’s about making smart decisions, which in the end looks after our bottom line.”
Fremantle designer Natalie Donovan, of label Wild Horses, says sustainability is something that can be controlled and maintained at a certain level by creating products that the consumer can wear repeatedly because of its longevity.
“This factor always begins with how that product was made and using certain materials to sustain it. Our choice is to use fabrics and materials that can last the test of time and ensure the garment quality is always made with the most economical manner,” explains Natalie. “Natural fibres are best to use as it not only sews better, but the whole garment looks so much more beautiful than using a nylon or poly. It will last longer and is best for our environment as it doesn’t pollute the world if for some reason it is thrown away.”
It’s all about smart designs and using every little piece of remaining fabric so wastage is minimal. Natalie says they are constantly trying to use left-over fabric off cuts by creating additional items such as hair scrunchies or drawstring bags.
“We even use the ends of the fabrics to tie our parcels up when we get our online orders. The rest of the fabric scraps can usually go into our worm farm, or donated to a school or university,” she says.
Clare Ryan has spent over 13 years as a stylist, editor and journalist, working across all lifestyle markets including fashion, interiors, food and design. Clare has styled a number of fashion campaigns and editorials for publications including The West Australian and Marie Claire Australia and continues to style her way through her home town of Perth.
- 14 Sep '20