Tuesday 24 May 2016

Clean Cut Future Talks 2

Last week marked the third appearance of Clean Cut at Sydney's premier fashion event - Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Unlike CC's inaugural appearance, when I helped launch the company and we hosted a sustainable fashion runway, I had the pleasure of simply being a guest at this year's panel discussion/seminar.

The Future Talks 2 panel was hosted by the charming Kellie Hush, Editor of Harper's BAZAAR Australia, and featured representatives from Country Road, Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) and TOME.

L to R: Anna Scott from Clean Cut, Kellie Hush, Lucy King of Country Road,
Sigrid McCarthy of ECA, Ramon Martin of TOME.
You can watch the entire talk online.

Hush opened the talk with the infamous Vivienne Westwood quote, always worth repeating:
Buy Less. Choose Well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity. Everybody's buying far too many clothes.
The panel offered up genuine insights about what is means for a fashion brand to be, or become, 'sustainable'. The message of the day? Sustainability is a journey. Sure, some of it's hard, and some of it will take awhile to figure out, but it's better to get started than to worry about being 'perfectly sustainable' (as if such a thing exists).

Interestingly, this is what I tell people in my book and events - it's best to simply start somewhere. The perfect is the enemy of the good, they say, and it seems that this advice rings true whether we're talking about one person's lifestyle, or an entire fashion brand.

New designers were given the advice to regularly talk about sustainability in order to remain connected to their goal. Encouragement to 'walk your talk', so to speak. Hand-in-hand with this advice is the importance of knowing why you're producing in this way. Branding has moved way beyond product now, customers buy into the "soul of your brand" and want to feel good on multiple levels when wearing your clothes.

The panel also highlighted that you cannot rely on 'story' or 'branding' alone - design remains as important as ever. As Ramon from TOME put it, "The responsibility is ours. If you can put together a [successful] sustainable collection without telling your customer the story, you're a really great designer."

Another message from the panel was the importance of collaboration. Ramon from TOME spoke of the importance of sharing sustainability ideas and information amongst other designers, and Lucy from Country Road explained that even though this can feel awkward - most of the time retailers and fashion brands do NOT wish to share supply chain secrets with one another - in order to truly change the way clothing is produced retailers and brands must come together, share knowledge, and collaborate.

Finally, the audience was reminded that "design is a central figure in the supply chain process," and that designers have to decide they are going to change the system and create a supply chain that works for them and aligns with their sustainability values.

The message that resonated with many of us in the audience came from Ramon of TOME, and are the words I'll leave you with today as my optimistic hope for the future of fashion:
When people look back in time, this is what fashion was in the early 21st Century. It wasn't about high hemlines or a miniskirt, it was about changing the way we make clothes.

Were you at the Clean Cut Future Talks 2? What did you take note of? What would you ask the panel if you could?

Friday 13 May 2016

trash to treasure

My longtime readers will know that I love fixing up old furniture, like this dresser I found on the street, and the bookshelf I write about in Sustainability with Style.

I've just had the pleasure of fixing up some bar stools - also found on the street. (What other cities do this as much as Sydney? Especially its seaside towns?!).

I had been keeping my eye out for some used barstools to put in our kitchen, which is galley-style and separate from where we eat, but inevitably gets crowded with people whenever we have guests over for a meal. Everyone loves to hang in the kitchen, am I right?

Then I spotted these beauties just a block from my home, and rushed home to get the assistance of my hubby to carry them both home before someone else got to them.

The stools had clearly been living an 'outdoor lifestyle' for awhile, there was even a mushroom growing out of one of them, but I knew I could give them a second life and a new home.

Two trips to Bunnings later, and the proud owner of primer, a carefully selected paint colour (with low VOCs, of course, although not as 'natural' a paint as I'd used on the abovementioned dresser), wood filler to deal with some wood rot, and felt tips to add to the bottom of the legs so we don't scratch the floors, I was ready to make the transformation.

Step 1
A good clean, including sanding back the paint on the wood, scraping away rust on the metalwork and dealing with the mushrooms.

Step 2
A good layer of primer.

Step 3
Apply wood filler to deal with gashes and rot - you can see the main problem area in the photo above.

Step 4
Realise I should have done the wood filler first, and do another quick layer of primer. (There are always a few extra steps in any DIY project, right?)

Step 5
Paint! It took three coats to get the depth of colour that I was seeking, but it was worth it in the end.

I tackled the bottoms first, after watching a few help videos on YouTube.

After two layers - still a bit showing through the paint.

Finished project! Here they are in the kitchen.

I've decided to keep one in the entry, both to keep the kitchen un-cluttered,
and also because the colour works well with our map and pillows, and adds
a nice splash of colour along that wall.

What do you think? I'm totally thrilled with this pop of colour, and happy to know my guests will have somewhere to rest while chatting with us in the kitchen.

Have you done any fun refurbs lately? I'd love to see your pics!


PS - I have a lot of this paint left, so let me know if you'd like it for one of your own projects.

Thursday 5 May 2016

a mighty good tale

Have you ever wondered where your undies come from?

I don’t mean the name brand, or even the ‘Made In’ country, but the dirty little secrets behind your undies.

According to the co-founders of Mighty Good Undies (Dr Hannah Parris and Elena Antoniou), the cotton supply chain is “awash with toxic chemicals including pesticides that are dangerous to farmers, or chemical residues from the washing process, which can become hormone disrupters in our bodies”.

In addition, "about 25% of cotton farm workers in India are children under 14, due to the very low price we have come to expect of cotton," one of the world’s most desired fibres.
These little cotton undies don’t look so sweet anymore.

Enter Mighty Good Undies – certified Fairtrade (FLO) and organic (GOTS), this ethical label is aiming to change the toxic past of undies and bring the gold standard of sustainability, comfort, affordability and price to our unmentionables.

But they need our help!

Currently in the crowdfunding stage, you can get involved with Mighty Good Undies from the ground up so they can create their line of super-ethical undies and bring their wares to the Berlin Ethical Fashion Show this July to gain buyers to stock the brand in their stores.

As with any crowdfunding campaign, there are plenty of delightful rewards ranging from a postcard from Berlin to packs of undies, to my personal favourite – naming rights of one of the styles. I can imagine it now, Lisa's Lovely Briefs . . .

And if you bid this week (2-9 May 2016), you will also get a bar of delicious Organic + Fair-trade Alter Eco Quinoa chocolate (a staple in my house!).

On a personal note, I have the pleasure of knowing the two brilliant and dedicated women behind the brand, and can fully vouch for their commitment, knowledge and passion.

Elena has been working with brands for years through her PR business, New Future PR, and as she says, “I was hankering to jump into the ethical fashion issue”. She was also instrumental to the first Clean Cut appearance at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week two years ago – I don’t know how we would have pulled it off without her brilliance!

Hannah got involved in sustainable fashion after realising that many systems in our lives – food, transport, housing and energy – were being addressed from a sustainability perspective, but “clothing seemed to be the odd one out that hadn’t made much progress”. Hannah is behind ethical clothing brand Audrey Blue, which stemmed from her own research and realisation that “fashion’s importance as both a driver -- as well as a solution -- to core problems I had been concerned with my whole life.” 

And on an even more personal note, my dear friend Yatu Widders Hunt (check out her blog All for Good) introduced the two, and she is now known as the “godmother of Mighty Good Undies” (I wonder if she gets a wand with that title?).

In all seriousness – isn’t about time we had safe, soft, (sexy) and comfortable undies? 

Head over to their Start Some Good page and pledge to help this incredible brand get off the ground – and you may as well do it this week so you get some free chocolate in the deal, too.