Australian designers take a big step into slow fashion

Ethical and locally crafted creations available at Rosa Rosa The Label. Photo supplied.
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The fashion industry worldwide has been flipped upside down by the coronavirus global shutdown. Ashley Bell talks to fashion insiders about the potential impact locally.

Ethical fashion is the future – and it’s close, local designers say.

Rosa Rosa The Label designer Christina Hewawissa said she was committed to ethical fashion in her Melbourne-based brand and saw a future in slow fashion already unfolding.

“Just because clothes are cheap, doesn’t mean it’s a good choice. Our world is changing, adapting and becoming more aware of every choice we make, she said.

“It is up to us to make these choices and contribute to a better future,” she said.

Christina Hewawissa uses a combination of 100 per cent vegan fabrics and deadstock fabrics in all her designs. Photo supplied.       

Questions around sustainability and ethics have been pushed into the spotlight as overseas manufacturing and distribution crumbled because of the pandemic.

Bloomberg reported in March as many as 1089 garment factories in Bangladesh alone had orders cancelled worth roughly $1.44 billion because of the coronavirus.

“This pandemic has shone a light on the importance of supporting local businesses,” Ms Hewawissa said.

Ethical and locally crafted creations available at Rosa Rosa The Label. Photo supplied.

A May survey of 182 Australian fashion organisations conducted by The Australian Fashion Council showed the impact of stagnant demand and a decline in sales, with 84 per cent of companies identifying they were faced with excess, deadstock as a result of the virus.

“The pieces in fast fashion aren’t meaningful or important,” Ms Hewawissa said. “They are purely a money-making entity that is designed to be discarded after one or two wears.”

Fashion blogger Maggie Zhou said she started embracing slow fashion – and encouraging others to to also do so – after feeling a sense of cognitive dissonance when promoting fast fashion brands online.

Maggie Zhou. Photo supplied

“It’s important to think about what our consumption is doing to the planet, as well as how the workers behinds what we wear are treated,” she said.

“We live in an increasingly eco-conscious and empathetic society, so it just makes sense that ethical fashion is becoming more important.”

The transition away from fast fashion is a gradual shift, Ms Zhou said. “Even I’m not perfect and still occasionally buy fast fashion.”

Australians buy an average of 27kg of new textiles per year, and discard 23kg of that into landfill.

“Even before beginning your journey of purchasing sustainable clothes, I think it’s a good idea to look in your own wardrobe and make the most of it,” Ms Zhou said.

“And when buying new clothes, always be a conscious consumer and really ask yourself whether you need it.”