What do Chorus, Limb the label, Dress Up, Kuwaii, FME Apparel, Verner, Per-Tim, Collective Closets, Cue, Veronika Maine, Campbell Charlotte, Nobody Denim, Vege Threads, BGoods Label and Sister Studios all have in common?
Well, if you read the title of this post, then you have probably already guessed it, but for those who didn't (how on earth you missed it remains a mystery), these are all labels that design and manufacture their wares on this little island we call 'Straya.
Fuelled by a generation of designers who are committed to creating consciously with minimal social and environmental impact, there has been a recent resurgence of the local garment production industry which dwindled after the liberalisation of trade barriers in the 1990's (translation; about 20 years ago the government made it affordable for Australia to import garments from overseas, meaning that garments made in Australia were way to expensive in comparison).
As consumers become more and more educated on the issues surrounding fast fashion and frighteningly cheap offshore production, there is a growing demand for supply chain transparency, which is a positive step in the right direction, however teeny that step may be.
It is important to note however that even if something is made locally it does not automatically mean that it is made ethically. Machinists or "home workers" (i.e. the people who actually sew the garments) are sometimes paid as little as $4 per hour. Which is why it is so important to do your research and be mindful of the price of a garment and the size of the company. What does this mean? Well, if a brand is claiming their garments are made in Australia, yet they are obscenely cheap, then you may want to look into it further by emailing them and questioning this. I know this sounds over the top, but if enough people collectively question brands, then they have no choice but to listen and become accountable.
Having said all of this, (and just to be extra confusing) I want to add that just because something is produced overseas, also doesn't automatically make it UN-ethical! Mmmm get your head around that one! There are many brands producing "well made" clothes all over the world, but more on that in another blog post.
To make it easy for you, here is a template of the email I send to brands when I want to know a little bit more about how their products are made...
I am interested in purchasing a your ................. Can you please tell me where it is produced and if you can confirm that the production is sweatshop free? I would love some info on your CSR in regards to ethics & sustainability.
Like most customers these days, I am on a quest to make the most ethical choices with my purchases, and I just need to know all the facts before I part with my cash.
Thanks in advance!
Want a fast track, sure fire way to know that the what you're buying has been made consciously in Australia? Check out Ethical Clothing Australia, an independent accreditation organisation, who ensure that the Australian side of the supply chain stays fair, transparent and legal.
Note: Not all of the labels I listed above are accredited by ECA, but to save you time, I have done my research and I can assure you that they are all made as consciously as possible.