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Sustainable Fashion at KAMERS/Makers – PART I

Our ethos at KAMERS/Makers is simple: we support and promote sustainable, ethical processes which are created by our local Makers, whether it be fashion, design or food. At KAMERS/Makers we refuse to compromise on the quality of materials and the ethical manufacturing of products. When focusing on the rise of the fashion industry, we refuse to give in to the ‘Fast Fashion‘ phenomenon which is globally destructive in (too) many ways.

There has been a lot of talk around the transition of ‘Fast Fashion’ to more ethical supplier-consumer relationships and, finally, fashion powerhouses are being held accountable for their contribution to this harmful trend. We are proud to say that we work alongside our Makers to ensure South Africans become more aware and increase their efforts to combat the ‘Fast Fashion’ phenomenon.

Learn more about how our younger generation of Makers support and create local, ethical and sustainable fashion.

.about

.about is all about giving back to their community and focusing on improving the quality of life of their employees, specifically their feeling of self-worth. Anna-Mart, founder of .about, believes in having personal and close connections to her employees and going to work with a positive attitude to ensure a healthy working, sustainable environment.

All their garments are hand made in the small town of De Doorns by three local ladies and Anna-Mart too is involved with the manufacturing process. The job opportunities are kept local and natural materials are used to create garments which outlast trends and rather can be worn for years, through seasons. This combined, ensures fashion sustainability on so many (different) levels.

Marketing too plays a big role in the rise of ‘fast fashion’ around the world. It is the tool that businesses use to lock customers in and give in to the sense of quick gratification. Anna-Mart urges customers to make informed choices and to think of the laboures, working conditions and the environment before giving in to the trend.

Anna-Mart says that her wish is for South Africa to keep the supply-chain local and minimise the use of importing and exporting. By doing so, job creation will increase and the local industry will thrive.

“I would like to encourage people to support local brands, showing them what we do and to appreciate the process. Many can then add more input to our products.”

“It’s not just a sustainability issue, it’s a societal problem. It’s a problem of instant culture.”

T-Shirts For Change

The name says it all. T-Shirts for Change is based on the concept of creating ethically manufactured T-shirts to provoke thought and change in today’s society.

The biggest elements of sustainability for the brand is safe and fair working conditions for staff and using sustainable textiles in the manufacturing process. Brands have a duty and a huge platform to help combat climate change and should act on this in every way possible.

All textiles are sourced and manufactured locally and sustainable textiles are also used to make their T-Shirts for Change. Having launched a range of shirts called RE-Wear tees, two to three plastic bottles are recycled for the production of each shirt. This prevents plastic pollution from ending up in landfills and oceans.

Branding and packaging are two of the biggest culprits of pollution and waste. Nicole, founder of T-Shirts for Change states that there is too much wasteful packaging involved in manufacturing of products and the selling thereof. (Did you know at KAMERS/Makers we have banned the use of all single-use plastics for this exact reason?) T-Shirts for Change prides itself on working towards the complete ban of plastic free packaging. They are 80% of the way there and pledge to have all their orders shipped plastic-free by 2020.

Another element of sustainability that T-Shirts for Change focuses on is the progression of human- and women’s rights in the fashion manufacturing industry. Their Feminist T-shirt tries to achieve just that. Sustainability goes much further than just the environment and T-Shirts for Change acknowledges this by evolving and donating a portion of proceeds to a variety of charities.

It’s now time for every major retailer to commit to some sort of circular economy model and become responsible for their part of the environment and economy.

“T-Shirts For Change has always been about the power of the collective. The power we have as consumers, not only to express ourselves through what we wear, but also align what we wear and buy with our own values. We would like to demonstrate how something as simple as a t-shirt can make a statement, ignite change, and create a positive impact on social and environmental issues.”

LIPE Swimwear

LIPE Swimwear specialises in beautiful swimwear garments which are manufactured in an eco-conscious and sustainable process. Alex, Founder of LIPE, believes that sustainable brands are a byproduct of the business owner who has the right intentions. Rather than a self-focused approach, business owners should strive to uplift the community and environment within their reach.

Fir their swimwear LIPE only uses materials which are made in an eco-conscious environment and that are not produced with any harsh chemicals or toxins. By 2021, Alex hopes to be able to have her swimwear range crafted out of fully recycled materials. The sustainable manufacturing and the social responsibility of all LIPE products is what highlights this brand as an environmentally sustainable one. On top of that, LIPE supports its local communities by providing jobs amongst the residents of Alantis.

With only 2 years in the South African fashion industry, LIPE has made a tremendous mark and been on the forefront of promoting sustainable fashion. Although the concept of being sustainable in the industry is relatively new, there has been an influx of good quality, local brands that are socially responsible, with LIPE being one of the leaders.

Although LIPE is an aesthetics focused brand, each purchase has a significant impact on the local community. Alex hopes that LIPE customers will be able to think past the aesthetics and consider and appreciate all the hands who were involved in crafting the garment for you to wear. Local shoppers should always keep in mind that the money you spend, has a direct pathway back to those who made your garment.

“For me, developing a sustainable brand started with setting my intentions for the outcomes of my venture – a profitable business that will create job opportunities for myself and local South Africans while simultaneously offering a world-class product to my customers. Secondly, it was crucial that my manufacturing process and services was undertaken by individuals within our community and ensuring that all contributors benefit from it – the designer, all material suppliers, manufacturers and ultimately the customers.”

To conclude:

All these Makers agree that South Africa is making great strides in the fashion sustainability department. There is still a lot of work to do, but there is a great sense of awareness and responsibility from both manufacturers and consumers. SA Fashion Week hopped on board with this and committed to delivering a 5-year sustainability plan. We, as South Africans, need to remember that there is a variety of social and economic factors at play in our country which makes a sustainable movement a difficult one to push. That being said, the more local designers can produce, the more affordable they can become, the more jobs will be created and the more communities all be supported. The cycle is there, it just requires more support.

Visit  our next KAMERS/Makers show in Stellenbosch or Irene, Pretoria to meet these Makers and find out more about their passion for sustainable fashion.

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