This week I am so excited to feature a guest blog post from my dear friend Marie Delaitre from People Friendly Workplace. Marie messaged me a few months ago to express her excitement at being accepted to attend a special TEDx Sustainable Fashion Adventure day. A big fan of TEDx, with a growing interest in the ethics behind the fashion industry, Marie offered to sum up the experience for the readers here at Fox Park, and share the newly released video which was filmed on the day. I hope you enjoy her contribution as much as I did.
The seed for this adventure was set at TEDxSydney in the crowded atrium of the Sydney Opera House in partnership with Toyota Prius. They were asking for adventurers to spend the day with one of the speakers and further explore the topic they presented. With over 2000 people attending the event it was a long shot, but worth a try. I put down my name.
In the background some magic was happening, an adventure like no other was being put together by the team at TEDxSydney and their partners in ideas. Myself and a team of other curious folks would be gathered for a day to learn more about the fashion industry, with a focus on sustainability and ethics.
Clara Vuletich would be our host for the day. Clara’s talk at TEDxSydney “How to Engage with Ethical Fashion” was one of my favourites, because fashion plays such an important part of our daily lives but also bears a great cost to people who create it unknown to us, and to the environment which supplies it and deals with its waste. Clara has been working on creating the adventure to get us to know the industry a little deeper now that she had us curious from her talk.
What the day would hold would only be unfolded as it passed. We were all willing participants so did not ask too many questions about what was ahead, just got on with a most important part of any adventure to know your companions for the day. Everyone had a lovely energy and kindness about them, a quality I have found common to the TEDxSydney audience over the years.
All up we visited three places which gave us thought provoking conversations about the world of fashion and what is possible when people step outside of the industry norm.
Mighty Good Undies' philosophy is that fashion, done well, can create sustainable viable livelihoods while also improving environmental outcomes in the textile supply chain (the second most polluting industry on earth).
A business making fair trade, organic cotton undies gives consumers the opportunity to buy into redefining fashion for the future. Of course, it also gives people the chance to have some mighty good undies which feel good on you (so soft and luxurious), and on your conscience.
An explosion of colour, diversity and fine craftsmanship greeted us as we walked into The Social Outfit.
The Social Outfit is an ethical fashion brand celebrating creativity and diversity, employing and training people from refugee and new migrant communities.
Here excess fabrics donated by fashion houses are re-created into beautiful garments by new migrants and refugees and then sold to the public. An amazing collaboration between solving a business excess problem and meeting a social need. Where else can these two worlds intersect?
There is an ethic about sustainable fashion brands which puts the customer first, which I think stems from the mindset of the business owner, because it takes a big leap of faith to move from convention and a steep belief that things can be different. Citizen Wolf makes tailor made T-shirts. Since they are made to order, waste is reduced in the process. A better quality product means it lasts longer and since the customer is deeply involved in the process of designing their Tee, they get to enjoy the end product more.
Throughout this adventure visiting these diverse enterprises, you could feel fashion at an emotional level instead of just wearing it at a physical level. Opportunities to rethink how we fashion ourselves seemed more within reach.
All change starts with knowledge of alternatives available and I think every conscious consumer can take the time to learn more about their fashion impact, and take action to purchase responsibly.
To learn a little more you can view Clara’s TEDxSydney talk, have a look at the businesses listed above, or watch the fun video from the day - and yes, I'm on there!
Of course, I have written this piece for my friend Stacey of Fox Park because she is an advocate of re-imagining fashion for the better. She has been one piece of my own puzzle to better understand my own impact.
A big thank you to TEDxSydney for their imagination in bringing people and ideas together in this way and for Toyota Prius for facilitating the day. #OhWhataFeeling!
Clearly an adventurer and entrepreneur, Marie cares about the world deeply. She runs a boutique company called People Friendly Workplace with the goal to make workplaces amazing. Following the philosophy that work environments ripple into our greater society, Marie works with businesses to make their place in the world a place people want to be in. Products available for inclusion in a People Friendly Workplace packs include feminine hygiene products, healthy snack boxes and regular thank you boxes. How nice is that!