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Sustainable Fashion at KAMERS/Makers Part 2

We are very proud to be able to say that all of our Makers contribute to ethical and sustainable manufacturing in some way or other. At KAMERS/Makers you won’t find a mass produced item in sight. We thrive on locally crafted, uniquely made products. In the sequel to our last post about our sustainable Makers, we look at a three more Makers who take the meaning of sustainability to the next level, specifically in the fashion industry.

Sitting Pretty

For Emma Longden, founder of Sitting Pretty, the concept of ethical fashion is more meaningful than the term ‘sustainability’ as the fashion industry does indeed have a direct impact on the environment.

Sitting Pretty does all it can to reduce its impact on the environment. No synthetic fibres are used in their factory. Did you know that synthetics/polyester is the largest contributing factor to ocean pollution? So not using these materials is a positive step for fashion brands. All their staff are properly cared for and compensated for their time. Sitting Pretty has a long standing relationship with two small factories and has negotiated a decent liveable wage for all their workers. In the studio, all employees are paid above industry standard. The importance of the human element in the manufacturing process is clearly valued by Sitting Pretty. The waste fabric in the factory is made into school bags and scrunchies which are donated to a charity which focusses on helping and teaching children with cerebral palsy and foetal alcohol syndrome to create. Sitting Pretty embodies all the different aspects of being ethical in the industry.

Emma urges consumers to look into the deeper meaning of the clothing they buy and realize what being ethical actually means rather than making impulsive shopping decisions. Synthetic fabrics are killing the oceans. Why are we so against straws and single use plastic but there is no conversation around polyester and how damaging it is? This is a conversation that needs to be started in the fashion industry.

“Our message is one of slow fashion. Humans need to really take responsibility for where and how we spend our money. We need to stop consuming fast fashion like we do, we need to move away from our ’throw away’ culture.”

Hannah Lavery

Hannah emphasizes that sustainability has many different interpretations and that every brand should contribute to it in their own way. All their products are made from fibres that decompose over time and no plastic fibres are used. For Hannah, her staff are one of her most important resources, so she strives to better their living standards and ensure their happiness. In a country like South Africa, local businesses must try to create valuable, meaningful and properly compensated employment wherever they can.

As more research gets done in the sustainability field, more brands become aware of new ways to be sustainable and new ways of ethical fashion is developed. Hannah uses her small business to try and promote the story behind each garment and encourage the traceability and transparency in the industry.

Hannah believes that the entire mindset of buying needs to be changed. Over-consumption is damaging on many different levels to many different people. Consumers need to remember to value quality over quantity and realise new is not always better and somewhere, someone is paying for the discounted purchase in a harsh way. Without a real shift in the mindset of those who control the buying power of the industry, it will be very difficult to see change.

Hannah Lavery garments are made to be worn for years and surpass the fast fashion trend. Each garment is crafted to be loved and to form part of the customer’s long term wardrobe. The garments are timeless ensuring they can be worn for years, throughout seasons and despite changing trends.

Your individual buying choices really are powerful. If you are producing and selling in your own country each garment’s carbon footprint is significantly less than something that has travelled across the world to get to your wardrob

Malok

Once Sandra Malloca, founder of Malok clothing, started meeting new people and experiencing new things in the fashion industry, she became intrigued by the idea of sustainability within the industry. She changed up her manufacturing process and her A/W 19 Collection was her first proudly sustainable collection. Sandra admits that once deciding to not use synthetic fabrics, her choices became limited and her costs increased. This was a big risk but it paid off immensely in the end.

Malok’s garments go through many hands before they reach the final stages of production. This ensures that every product is individually crafted rather than mass produced. Each set of hands puts their own care into each garment. Malok also creates relationships and jobs as they understand the value of every single person in the manufacturing process. It’s like one long interlinked chain – if one of the links are dissatisfied or broken, the end result is not beneficial to anyone.

The aim for Sandra and everyone involved at Malok, is to be as sustainable and as transparent as they can. From fabrics to labels to packaging, the goal is to create beautiful but affordable garments with natural fabrics which are easier on the environment. Sandra believes that there has been a shift in the South African fashion industry. Consumers are slowly becoming more aware of the damaging consequences of fast fashion and buying into clothing as an investment rather than a compulsive urge.

As a designer, one has a big responsibility to produce and deliver a product which is honest, versatile and long lasting. This is why transparency in the industry is so vital.

“Hopefully in 10 years time we won’t even have to stipulate that garments are sustainable or eco friendly as conscious fashion will become the new norm.”

Find Sitting Pretty and other sustainable fashion Makers at KAMERS/Makers Irene, 3-8 December 2019. Also read Part 1 in this series.

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