We Wear Australian

#WeWearAustralian is a movement championing Australian design and talent, while uplifting Australians in need. The campaign was launched in 2020 by Showroom X as the Australian fashion industry felt the strains and impact of the pandemic. 

It’s now more important than ever to shop and support Australian, when it comes to our purchasing decisions, ensuring our favourite labels and businesses will still be around; designing and creating your favourite pieces post pandemic.

We Wear Australian has partnered with Thread Together to give Australians doing it tough some dignity and hope through a new wardrobe. All brands participating in the campaign donate both products and funds to support their incredible work. Last year over a 3 week period Thread Together was able to support over 10,000 people thanks to the We Wear Australian campaign.

To help you get to know a few trailblazers in the Australian fashion industry, we interviewed some of our favourite women led sustainable brands,because we’re #BetterTogether. We chatted with the founders of AC Official, Lois Hazel, Joslin and Team Timbuktu about sustainability, the Australian fashion industry and staying creative during the pandemic.

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AC OFFICIAL

First, if you can introduce yourself and tell us about AC Official?

My name is Tessa and I am the founder of A_C Official. A_C is part of a new generation of luxury fashion brands whose focus is on environmental and social responsibility from impact to behavioural change. Put simply, we set out to prove that ethical, sustainable and cruelty-free accessories actually do exist and provide an alternative to the Leather and PU handbag market. 

Why is sustainability important to you? Describe the moment when you decided about your focus on it?

Why is it not to others? It’s 2021 and we’re running out of time to turn things around on this planet. As consumers, designers and general custodians of the land in which we live we need to start to understand that our every purchase has an effect on society and therefore the planet. From creating demand for a market/product to how we dispose of it - this is crucial in shaping the work in which we want to live. 

My ‘ah-ha’ moment came on a bus ride up the mountains in Peru where I could see plastic bags strewn all over the countryside. I realised they had come from the very factory I had been working with and knew something had to change right there and then.

What do you love about the Australian fashion industry and how do you see it evolving?

The Australian fashion industry has a way of capturing our unique lifestyle through laid back, luxurious garments that perform both fashion and function. In terms of evolution, I think it is up to the private sector to make changes towards a more sustainable future (because we sure as hell can’t rely on our current Government!). I would hope that Australian Fashion businesses can use this as inspiration and a platform for change, setting the tone for our consumer’s values and meeting our demands with actions.

How have you managed to stay creative during the pandemic and extended lockdowns?

This is a controversial comment to make however as a designer, I have found the lockdowns somewhat inspiring, forcing us to look inwards and share our voice from a place of authenticity. Prior to 2020, we seemed to all be on different playing fields. COVID taught us that we are all human and come from the same place of vulnerability. I feel like it levelled the playing field a little and forced us to create real, authentic content and story-telling.

 

LOIS HAZEL

First, if you can introduce yourself and tell us about Lois Hazel?

My name is Lois, and I am the founder of Melbourne based brand Lois Hazel. Lois Hazel was launched in 2015 and is committed to engaging in practices that are both ethical and environmentally sustainable, promoting transparency throughout our production and supply chains. Each of our garments are crafted either in-house or by one of our trusted manufacturing partners in Naarm, Australia. 

Why is sustainability important to you? Describe the moment when you decided about your focus on it?

Sustainability is important because without proper sustainable action and change across all industries we are going to end up taking more from our planet than it has to give as well as continue to exploit people. We need to make conscious decisions that are going to protect our planet and provide for the people in it and put this first before profit. For me, my sustainable journey really began at university. Through learning and understanding more about the fashion industry and the supply chains, it made me question a lot of things about the fashion industry. Through learning more about its unsustainable practices, the negative impact it was having on our planet not only did it make me question my fashion habits but also allowed me to look at the greater impact I had as a consumer across all industries. No longer did I want to be a part of the problem but rather be a part of the solution and change both my personal habits and professional habits.

What do you love about the Australian fashion industry and how do you see it evolving?

The incredible community. No longer are people secretive or unwilling to share information, but rather are willing to work together and share ways in which we can all become more sustainable and change this industry for the better.

How have you managed to stay creative during the pandemic and extended lockdowns?

It’s been hard, but by being able to continue to create throughout these lockdowns has definitely helped. I’ve always been inspired through making so by being able to go into the studio and keep creating has been a nice escape. I’ve also really tried to focus on what is in my control and what I can do. Like walks with friends in my neighbourhoods, having dinner dates at home with my partner and numerous facetime chats with my family.

  

JOSLIN

First, if you can introduce yourself and tell us about Joslin? 

My name is Elinor, and I am the designer and founder of Joslin, an independent fashion brand based in Melbourne. Joslin's aesthetic is described as 'romantic styling for the minimalist woman'. Collections are designed with a philosophy that centres around environmentally friendly business practices, enduring design, seasonless collections, and natural fabrications, believing that no garment is created or designed to be worn once. 

Why is sustainability important to you? Describe the moment when you decided about your focus on it?

I have previously worked for a few large-scale retailers where I have seen vast volumes of clothing being manufactured in petroleum-based compositions and non-organic cotton. I have witnessed the 'hidden' side of clothing manufacturing overseas, including terrible working conditions such as no sunlight and unsanitary facilities. I have seen extreme amounts of fabric waste (factory floors full of fabric rolls from overruns) and unnatural coloured and dirty rivers.  It has made me consider and question the end use of each garment I design and produce, and it has been a focus since the inception of my label. We have always focused on natural raw materials with traceable origins and safe chemical usage. 

At the beginning of the pandemic (in early 2020), I witnessed 'new' fashion become obsolete due to cancelled orders from wholesale to manufacturing across the industry. My business experienced vast levels of cancellations. At this stage, my passion set in for what Joslin stands for, longevity and forever design. Since this experience, I have fiercely protected my business, and in extension, my makers, from being considered 'obsolete' ever again. 

What do you love about the Australian fashion industry and how do you see it evolving?

Australia is my home, and the Australian Fashion Industry has been my heart for my entire adult life. I want to see everyone I love in this industry not just survive but thrive. I love the laid back styling, the relaxed silhouettes, and the fresh colours we all explore with our collections. There is an ease to Australian style and design, and it is because of our relaxed lifestyle.  

I think here in Australia, we have some of the most progressive designers, brands, and labels in the world. I hope to see a return to manufacturing here in Australia, but we need significant support at a federal level to rebuild (clothing and textile) infrastructure and operations. I do see this positively evolving moving forward, post-pandemic. 

How have you managed to stay creative during the pandemic and extended lockdowns?

2021 has been a lot easier than 2020 to stay creative. In 2020 I had a five-month span in which I didn't design anything, as I couldn't find the headspace for it or the time! I was so busy managing the business needs of Joslin during Melbourne's extended lockdowns. Moving forward to 2021, I am now quite experienced at lockdowns. It all comes down to setting routines and improving your critical path with every new collection, as we can't escape business disruptions. I have shifted my week to focus on business, sales, and accounts on Mondays and Fridays and focus on creative branding, product design, and development on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Walking in the fresh air helps a lot, and sometimes I take off my shoes and put bare feet on the earth to keep myself grounded. When designing a new collection, I make sure I can see greenery and trees out my window! 

 

TEAM TIMBUKTU

First, if you can introduce yourself and tell us about Team Timbuktu?

I’m Rhianna, the founder and creator of Team Timbuktu. We’re an outdoors brand encouraging women to get outdoors and adventure, creating technical clothing so you don’t have to compromise on style or sustainability to do so. I launched the brand in 2019 after being frustrated that I had to compromise on style and sustainability simply to get outdoors and do an activity that I loved.

Why is sustainability important to you? Describe the moment when you decided about your focus on it?

For me, it’s simply common sense. Why would I create a brand that encourages you to get outdoors, whilst simultaneously creating clothing from fabrics that have a direct negative impact on the environment (aka conventional synthetic clothing - derived from oil). Due to my background in the fashion industry, previously managing production for a snowboarding apparel company I knew it was possible to create fabrics significantly more sustainably and had some incredible connections with innovative fabric mills that I reconnected with when launching the brand.

What do you love about the Australian fashion industry and how do you see it evolving?

I feel so much more connected to the Australian fashion industry, especially due to the We Wear Australian campaign that launched last year. Being able to connect with other fashion brands, both large and small and coming together to connect and work through the pandemic ensuring we can all survive is so important. So many designers and labels are open to connecting and collaboration, which is so important as we can all do so much more together than alone. I really respect brands when they’re open and transparent about their processes and sustainability journey, even down to the nitty gritty details like Lois Hazel does with their fabric and trims suppliers.

How have you managed to stay creative during the pandemic and extended lockdowns?

It’s changed significantly on the day, week and what number lockdown we’re up to. The August lockdown last year was the hardest for myself with low motivation and so much uncertainty, versus this year whilst it’s remained a challenge I feel optimistic with what seems like an end horizon in sight. Typically I get my balance and energy from getting outdoors and being disconnected from technology, however of course that’s not possible with stay at home restrictions and a 5km radius, so walking down different streets, with new podcasts and trying out different cafes has been a breath of fresh air and the best way to feel somewhat normal during this period.

  

Learn more about the We Wear Australian campaign and participating brands here.