Monday 20 February 2017

good day girl love

I just spent a wonderful hour with the delightful duo behind Good Day Girl, Sophie and Alexia.

I've had my eye on this label ever since I started seeing their quirky social media feeds and read about their slow fashion, made-to-order ethos, and was thrilled for the invite to be fitted for one of their classic white shirts. (Is it just me, or is a well made shirt the ultimate wardrobe must have?)

We chatted about our experience and insights in this burgeoning space of sustainable fashion in Australia, our shared hatred of clothing and textile waste*, and I loved hearing their firsthand experience of launching and running Good Day Girl (celebrating three years!). Two designers who used to be competitors, these women found they shared common values including a strong desire to make their customers feel great in beautiful clothes, made of quality fabrics, that fit properly, are functional, and are available in the right size and colour, plus abhorring the waste of the traditional fashion system. Enter Good Day Girl.

Twice a year a collection is designed  and clients can either order direct from the website or they can arrange a fitting session to try on the entire range and be fitted for their correct size. The collections are designed to work with previous seasons so clients can continually, and slowly, build a curated wardrobe that suits their lifestyle.  The styling sessions are perfect for busy women who don't have much time to shop (sound familiar?!), because after an hour and a half of personalised assistance you can place your order and know that you'll have pieces to suit your style, your body and your lifestyle. And because they only produce the exact number of pieces they have orders for, there is no waste or excess to be dealt with at sample sales, discount stores, charity shops, and (ultimately) the landfill.

The catch? You don't take anything home on the day - we all have to wait until all orders are collected and then they will be produced (at an Ethical Clothing Australia-accredited factory, of course). Nothing like a little delayed gratification to make you love a piece of clothing even more, am I right?

You have until 9 March to visit the shops in Sydney, Melbourne and (for the first time!) Perth to view the collection. If you're like me, you'll end up running your fingers over every delicious fabric sourced from Italy, Spain and Japan (and don't miss the incredible superfine merino scarves they stock from Love Merino and hand-knit jumpers by Daniel Chiel's Koko Global project - both destined to remain firmly in my radar).

I'm already counting down the days until I see my new white shirt, but I wouldn't be surprised if I popped back in to order one of their stunning ponchos or their Chicago trench coat . . . so many beautiful, classic, well-made pieces. . .

Have you been to Good Day Girl? I'd love to hear your story!

*In case you missed it last Friday, here's a picture from the giant pile of unwanted clothes dumped in Martin Place by ABC as part of their War on Waste program. 6000kgs to be exact - the equivalent of how much is thrown out by Australians every 10 minutes. Yes, you read that correctly, 6000kgs every 10 minutes. You're seriously considering a slow, zero-waste wardrobe now, aren't you?

Friday 10 February 2017

mainstreaming sustainability

Hi there!

Today's blog post title is actually the same title as one of the chapter's in my thesis, which I'm desperately trying to complete by the middle of the year. Wish me luck! So you may not see as much from me in the coming months while I prioritise that very important project.

Today I was struck by this short article in Retail Wire asking, "When will sustainable fashion go mainstream?" It was specifically discussing H&M's Conscious Collection, which you know I have some qualms about. At the end of the brief article the author asks for comments and thoughts as to whether sustainable fashion will enter the mainstream, and the biggest factors to addressing this shift.

Here's my (quickly drafted!) response:
Sustainable fashion will undoubtedly continue to gain traction in coming years. H&M's Conscious Collection plays a major role in raising awareness of sustainable fashion, yet their overall business model will preclude that organization from becoming truly sustainable.

Contrary to some previous comments, many sustainable fibers have a better look and texture than the synthetics and blends that have come to mark much of the fashion industry in recent decades; this is especially true when comparing to H&M's (and other fast fashion retailer's) standard lines in which the fabric pills and breaks apart after a few washes. Fabrics including organic cotton, wool, silk, hemp-blends and others have greater longevity, and Tencel/Modal offers draping and texture found in synthetic rayon/viscose products without the environmental footprint. 

Sustainable fashion designers are already addressing fabric innovations and style, and in my experience as a sustainable fashion writer and researcher, price will remain a primary barrier because consumers are not used to paying a complete or true cost of fashion.  In addition, the rapid change of styles encouraged by many retailers will have to adjust so consumers do not feel the need to buy new pieces as frequently, or dispose of the old.

We cannot solve 'sustainable fashion' with a 'fast fashion' business model - it's not only fabrics, style and texture, but quality, price and tempering the desire to consume.

However, in agreement with other comments, the millenials are all over this, and are demanding sustainable, stylish, quality and lasting clothing. It's not an unsolvable problem, but it likely won't be solved by the likes of H&M or their Conscious Collection alone.

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear them! The above was a quick 'brain-dump' style response, and I'm sure there are more thoughtful ideas to consider.

Comment here or on their article to keep this conversation going and ensure the future of fashion is undoubtedly sustainable.

Friday 3 February 2017

2017 predictions

Pure Pod at Undress Runways

I was recently asked for my predictions for ethical fashion in 2017.

It's a tough question. It's like being asked to look into the future when we all know that there is no 'sure thing' in life. Just look at the 2016 US Presidential election predictions; all the so-called 'experts' and political pundits were so very wrong, and many of them have more years experience in politics than I have in sustainable fashion. Because the truth is, we just never know what is coming around the corner, and it's hard to know what we don't know.

Sure, I have some expertise in ethical fashion, especially regarding consumer habits, social movements and the workings of fashion businesses. But I don't know what is currently under development in innovation labs,  which labour market may take a leap forward, what budding changemakers will graduate design school this year, or which governmental regulations will be proposed that dramatically impact production, trade, or consumption of fashion.

So I'd rather we use the term 'hope-predictions', instead. This term encompasses recognition of my expertise, my optimism for the future, plus a healthy dose of acceptance that I don't have all the answers.

Lisa's 2017 hope-predictions for Sustainable Fashion

  • 2017 will bring more growth in the sustainable fashion sector, particularly from entrepreneurs and new businesses who recognise the vast consumer demand for ethical, transparent and planet-friendly fashion. I think we will continue to see design progress both in terms of aesthetic styling as well as innovations such as zero/less-waste patterning, upscaling the practice of upcycling, more fabric innovations, and more engagement with the sharing economy. The trend toward small-run artisanal and bespoke pieces will also continue as more individuals choose to hone their personal style and focus on curating a somewhat minimal, yet still unique and fashion-forward, wardrobe. 
  • The major brands will continue making shifts be less unsustainable by experimenting with sustainable fabrics and/or improving transparency in their supply chains. There is enormous potential for the larger labels to make significant positive impacts throughout the supply chain, yet consumers and activists should maintain pressure on these companies to encourage firms to change faster than they may think is possible. The major brands that are able to make bold steps and communicate them openly and transparently will be rewarded by the growing group of ethical consumers who care deeply about these issues.
  • In light of global political events, 2017 will bring increased activism throughout society as people brimming with frustration seek outlets for their desire to create change. Enacting values through lifestyle and consumption choices will play a major role for many citizens because this is something we each have individual control over. This should manifest itself (to an extent) in the sustainable fashion movement, which will encourage everyone - from start-ups to established brands - to continue towards sustainable fashion practices. Activism is always more fun (and effective!) when done with others, and NGOs and other groups working in this space should grasp the opportunity to facilitate larger scale projects with this group of engaged and energised citizens at this unique point in history.
What do you think?

Do you agree? Disagree? Have anything to add?

Leave a comment below - I'd love to hear your hope-predictions at this fascinating time for ethical and sustainable fashion.