Navigating the world of sustainability can be hard. What does it mean? How is a brand sustainable and why is it so important to our fashion industry?
We sat down with Jenna from @ironicminimalist and a slow fashion stylist to understand more about what she does and what to look for from a sustainable brand and its benefits.
What is a slow fashion stylist?
Since many more people are starting to consider the environmental effects of their wardrobes, stylists who oppose fast fashion and specialise in curating considered wardrobes full of ethically sourced goodies, are on the rise. These pieces may be sourced from local, transparent designers or from preloved stores.
Not only do slow fashion stylists help their clients build their dream wardrobe, but they also explain the effects of fast fashion and provide alternative ways to build the ideal wardrobe. A slow fashion stylist will be knowledgeable in places for their clients to buy preloved, rent garments for events and local designers to invest in. They will encourage sharing clothing between friends or even holding a swapping event. A slow fashion stylist won't tell you to get rid of your wardrobe and start again, they will show you how to work with what you already have and rework pieces that need a bit of love.
* Jenna wears our Williams Pant and Grace Crew in Onyx
How did you find your way into the sustainable side of fashion?
Becoming a slow fashion stylist happened by accident. I stumbled upon The Minimalist's, a minimalism documentary on Netflix, and after watching it a few times in one day, I become hooked on learning more. I found that minimalism linked to zero waste, veganism and also, slow fashion. It just felt like the right path for me. I started to research and document my habit changes on my Instagram and found similar folk. I had also just started a stylist course at Australian Style Institute and noticed that there wasn't a lot of information about sustainability in the general fashion industry and that my first clients were sustainability-minded and didn't want to support certain brands. So, I strengthened my learning along with my training and grew into becoming a slow fashion stylist. I also joined communities and chatted to like-minded brands. This journey started from a simple documentary (plus many more after it!) and is something I am so grateful for.
There is a lot of confusion on what makes a sustainable label sustainable. What do you look for when you are looking at sustainable and ethically made labels?
I always find that certifications are a great guide. Ethical Clothing Australia, Global Organic Cotton and OEKE-TEX are all great. But it's important to remember that these certifications do cost money, so many start-up brands cannot afford them just yet. The next best thing to do is ask questions! If a brand answers truthfully, then you are on the right path! Another big tick for me is clothing made with natural fibres. Organic cotton is breathable, long-lasting and can break down into the earth again.
UNIEK is passionate about supporting local makers and proud to be Australian made. Why is this important to our fashion industry?
Australia (and especially Melbourne), once had a vibrant manufacturing scene. Many brands were made here in the '80s and early '90s. But brands soon found cheaper labour overseas and the industry shrunk. Some brands have realised that it's easier to manufacture in Australia rather than shipping product all over the world. Supporting locally made clothing will help revive the amazing manufacturing scene in Australia that we once had and help build fairly paid jobs for more skilled people. It also means fewer carbon emissions from ship and air travel and safer workplaces for employees.
Many brands release capsule collections in order to keep quantities low and pieces meaningful. What are the key pieces to start building a capsule wardrobe?
A white tee is my absolute go-to in a capsule wardrobe. I can wear it in any season with anything. It can be dressed up or worn casually. Look for a style that suits your shape to maximize its usage. I also love a good blazer in a neutral tone or black. I have started to experiment with my Williams Pants as outwear. I will be wearing them out of the house a lot more with a blazer and white tee!
Shop our collection here.