5 tips that will have you thrifting like a boss

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Shop where the ‘posh’ people live

You know where I am talking about. The posh neighbourhoods where the LuLu wearing, ladies of leisure brunch mid-week, because let’s be real, only suckers have jobs.

It’s these op-shops that may just have us common people walking away with those one off unicorn finds that you’ll forever be boasting about. I guess rich people ain’t so bad after all!

Check the care tags

It’s considerably easy to determine a high quality piece with a simple touch, but if you’re a little clueless in this department, check the care tag. If the tag says the item should be dry cleaned there’s a good chance it’s made from high quality materials.

There are however some cheeky fast fashion brands that frivolously slap the dry cleaning label on whole collections. The reason being that they know very little about the fabrics that make up their collection and by dry cleaning them they are less likely to fall apart.

Where was the piece made? On the rare but glorious occasion I’ll stumble across an item made in Italy or France and when I do, I am happy dancing my way to the register. It’s these babies that tend to be higher in quality and less likely to be mass produced by the fast fashion giants.

Get outta’ town

I rarely walk passed a second hand shop without stopping, so it’s safe to say I’ve been to a lot. More often than not it’s the well trodden op-shops in cities that disappoint, so if you really want to find some treasures, take a trip out to the burbs. When I lived in Sydney I would trek to the western suburbs to explore the less gentrified areas and always found unique vintage pieces.

Small country towns are also where it’s at and who doesn’t love exploring quaint little towns mid road trip? Some of my unicorns have been found in the cutest, teeny, tiny towns throughout Canada and Australia.

Dress appropriately

Ok as an Australian this is super important and i’m sure my fellow Aussies would agree that there’s not much worse than trying on clothes in a non air conditioned thrift store, in the middle of summer. So take it from me, one who has ditched some of the best, because I wanted to look like a rock star in my skinny jeans and leather jacket.

My advice?

Wear a loose fitting dress – This way you’re easily able to try on bottoms if the change room isn’t free, because there’s no way you’re going to get out of those high waisted Nudies that took you 10 minutes to get into.

A strapless bra – For obvious reasons, no straps!

Slip on shoes – Ain’t nobody got time for laces.

I know I know, I like to look cute AF while op-shopping too, but you’ll slay those shops and walk away with the best haul if you’re dressed appropriately, I promise.

Know your size

So this has taken me half a lifetime to learn, especially when it comes to wearing appropriate footwear. I spent a lot of time squishing my feet into the cutest vintage size 6’s, when my fat feet are undeniably a size 7. Not only did it make it painful to walk but it left my feet swollen with blisters. Alas, I’ve now accepted my fat feet and leave the intricately designed, Italian made mid heels for the horribly lovely size 6 ladies. Yeah, you’re welcome.

Melbourne, an Op-Shopper’s dream

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Over the past 10 years op-shopping has changed, which I guess is to be expected, I mean 10 years in human years is kind of a longish time. The term Op shop is short for ‘Opportunity Shop’ so basically an op-shop is a shop that provides opportunity to those who have less money to spend on clothing and are usually run by charities to help those in need.

As a child there was a certain stigma attached to shopping in op-shops as it showed that your family was less well-off and couldn’t afford to buy brand new. But that’s all changed. Now op-shops are often just as expensive as buying brand new (depending on the product and brand of course) and as an avid op-shopper, this is something that has really irked me.

Once an embarrassing way to shop, buying second hand flipped on its head and became trendy AF and during the early-mid 2000’s the vintage trend was at an all-time high with serious thrifters picking the op-shops clean of all the vintage pieces and on selling them in their Etsy and Ebay stores for 5 times the price. I mean, I should know, I was one of them. Soz not soz guys.

Maybe the op-shops became aware of this fact and decided to raise their prices as they realised that some of the used goods donated to them (I reiterate – donated) were worth quite a bit of money. Maybe us vintage pickers changed the game and ruined it for everyone? But hey, it takes time and effort to sort through the junk, so realistically vintage pickers have done all the hard work for you, but babe, it’s gon’ cost ya!

Another reason that seems to really stand out is the fact that the fast fashion industry has really distorted our understanding of what things are worth. I really despise being expected to pay the same amount for something that is used as it was brand new and often this is the case for many items in opshops, especially pieces of low quality ready to fall apart. It’s so hard these days to find that really amazing piece we’re all chasing as more and more op-shops have become flooded with clothing from poor quality fast fashion brands, especially in Australia where quality vintage is just so hard to come by. At least in Europe there’s still vintage treasures to be found, I mean they sure have the history for it.

This past January I spent a month in Melbourne wandering the streets in search of the best of the best op shops Melbourne had to offer, and not to add fuel to the Sydney vs Melbourne debate, but Melbourne delivers the goods over Sydney hands down. I spent a lot of time riding my bike around Coburg and Brunswick and visited every op-shop down Sydney Rd from Coburg to Brunswick. Sooo naturally, I have put together a Coburg to Brunswick, Sydney Rd op-shop guide.

Here goes!

Salvos – 452 Sydney Rd Coburg Vic – (03) 9350 1167

Ahhh Salvos, where would my wardrobe be without you? Salvation Army op shops are hands down my fave amongst all the charity opshops. Their pricing is consistent and they often have sales making their stock even more affordable at random. This salvos in particular is a quaint store on Sydney Rd in Coburg with young, friendly staff. Although their clothing selection is nothing to write home about, their collection of vintage and second hand leather hand bags is! So if you’re after that fancy, vintage glow mesh or tooled leather at a very reasonable price, then baby look no further cos this Salvo has got the goods.

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Vinnies – 260 Sydney Rd, Coburg VIC 3058 – (03) 9386 6666

This Vinnies is large and in charge. The first thing I noticed was their amazing selection of bric brac. Boy I’m a sucker for bric brac. They have an amazing selection of beautiful vintage china, think the highest of all the high teas, teapots, tea cups and saucers, super cute vintage plates, punch bowls and those adorable vintage spoons that your grandma bring back whenever she went on holidays. But the real gem was the amazing Soup serving bowl in duck form. Yes, a duck form soup holder. Basically it was a duck bowl that came with a ladel to serve your guests, most probably from the early 80’s and it still hurts my soul to this day that it couldn’t be mine.

The soupy duck that got away…

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Their selection of clothing is also quite decent with loads of vintage finds, especially accessories and hats, but what really got me stoked about this Vinnies was their huge array of furniture. They have a big furniture room out the back with some seriously cool retro couches. So if you’re after that retro addition to your living room, then this is the Vinnies for you!

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Salvos – 740 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC 3056 – (03) 93864080

Ok, this Salvos means business. It is huge! With a massive amount of clothing and quality shoes it even has a furniture section that could give the previous Vinnies a run for their money. The standout feature of this Salvos is definitely their super trendy, friendly staff and their huge selection of really great quality shoes. I picked up an almost brand new pair of leather sandals for what I thought was $10 but ended up $3 – what what?! Those badboy’s are leather! AND I found a pair of Nudie jeans. Who gives a pair of Nudie jeans away?!

They even have a pretty decent bric brac section for you bric brac fiends.

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Don Bosco Opportunity Shop – 368 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC 3056 – (03) 9381 2271

I’d never actually been to a Don Bosco op-shop before and the only real thing I would write home about was their large selection of books and their amazing air conditioning (Hello Melbourne heatwave)

Savers – 330 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC 3056 – (03) 9381 2393

Ok, why didn’t anybody tell me that Savers existed in Australia?! Savers is a frikking dream and a half. It is HUGE with detailed and categorised racks and racks…and racks of clothing. When I lived in Canada I shopped at Value Village religiously. Savers is basically Value Village, well at least that’s what Canada calls it. They actually have everything. My favorite thing about Savers besides the fact it gets me nostalgic of my Canadian living days, is their epic shoe collection. I think it’s really hard to find quality shoes in op-shops but Savers has me sorted! I picked up a bright pink pair of Nike sneakers for $10 which I then proceeded to wear with every outfit for the following 2 weeks.

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Savers has over 230 stores throughout America, Canada and now Australia but you can only find them in Victoria and South Australia. Sorry NSW, but we can always do with another excuse for a Melbourne trip right?

Vinnies – 107 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC 3056 – (03) 8388 7084

 This Vinnies is centrally located and receives a lot of foot traffic so I feel like a lot of the good stuff gets picked pretty quickly at quite high prices as well. Unfortunately I can’t say there was anything that really stood out to me in this op-shop besides the higher price point.

There are loads of other op-shops in Melbourne and Sydney Rd is just the tip of the glorious second hand iceberg! Happy Thrifting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We need to talk about your ‘Hand me Downs’

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I love flea markets, maybe you picked up on that? I especially love flea markets in other countries. There’s nothing quite like sussing out the best second hand clothing in foreign countries. Yesterday, Wayan our lovely Balinese driver was rattling off all the different things to do in Ubud – Rice paddie walk, jungle trekking, second hand clothing market, cycle tour… Wait, what? Second hand clothing market? Do I just subconsciously scream, “take me to your second hand everything market!” or is this an actual touristy thing to do? (I totally scream that, who am I kidding?) and why I was surprised I don’t know, especially since Indonesia is one of the leading countries that receive imported clothing from the western world.

After convincing my fellow travel companions, we of course worked in a cheeky visit to the Pejang second hand market just before the Gianyar night market. Visiting the Pejang second hand market reminded me again of the unfathomable amount of clothing that is currently in circulation around the globe. Think piles and piles of mostly unsorted clothes from Japan, china and America, all laid out on tarps on the ground. I didn’t really go to buy anything as I am currently traveling and need to be as light as possible on the clothing front, but I really just wanted to check it out.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see used clothing getting a second life and not slowly (and I mean really slowly) rotting away in landfill, but it highlighted yet another issue that the fast fashion industry has created.

The importation of used clothing from other countries is illegal in Indonesia and many other countries like India, China and throughout Africa.

Of the bags and bags of clothing you have donated some of it is bought by larger wholesale second hand traders and sold off to many third world countries. The reason why it is illegal is because the importation of used clothing is flooding and slowly killing local clothing markets along with traditional clothing craftsmanship.

Importing and selling used clothing is often a very lucrative trade for many locals and although it has been made illegal in many countries, policing this can be incredibly difficult, especially in countries like Indonesia where the coast lines are huge with many potential ports.

This then of course stirred up some conflictual debate. Am I now meant to give up my passion for shopping at used clothing markets when I am visiting a different country? Two words. Heck. No.

By focusing on ripple effect problems, we tend to overlook the bigger picture, which is of course the fast fashion industry.

This issue should be acknowledged along with all the other issues that have been created by the fast fashion industry, but we need to continue to put pressure on fast fashion giants by continuing to demand transparency and being conscious about where we spend our money.

In saying that, the used clothing industry has also created loads of new opportunity for local traders. Buying a bale of imported clothing is affordable and the potential profit made is quite high. The demand for used clothing in Indonesia is continuously growing as more and more Indonesians desire different styles at more affordable prices. So although it is having a negative effect on local business, it is still creating new opportunity for people AND giving used clothing a second life, saving it from landfill for a few more years. So just like any business model in this world, if you are no longer providing what the customer wants and you are unwilling to change, then how can you expect to survive as a business?

How very controversially capitalist of me!

I wholeheartedly agree that traditional clothing craftsmanship should be preserved as much as possible, and I think this is only another reason among the many as to why our consumption of things, specifically clothing, needs to slow the heck down.

So what is the answer?

Applying restrictions on fast fashion giants regarding the amount of clothing they are allowed to produce? What about laws that require giants to use a certain percentage of recycled materials in their product?

Maybe that’s unrealistic, as where there is money to be made, there is very little chance that restrictive laws could ever be applied especially since climate change, global warming and all environmental science is struggling for a political forefront in many apparent forward thinking countries. Australia embarrassingly being one of the main contenders.

If we can’t introduce laws to restrict fast fashion chains, we can reduce the demand of clothing from them.

Don’t think your purchases or lack of purchases make a difference? Large chains like H&M are beginning to feel the pressure, in fact H&M is the largest user of organic cotton worldwide and they’ve even released a sustainability report which details information on all aspects of H&M’s supply chain. (http://goodonyou.org.au/the-ethics-of-fast-fashion-hm-and-zara/) This is a HUGE step in the right direction, but this isn’t to say that H&M should be your number one place to purchase your clothes as there’s is still A LOT of work to be done, but these changes prove that if we continue to demand change, change will happen!

So I say, keep shopping second hand no matter what country you are in. Second hand for life yo!

Everything you need to know about the leather industry

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Every year, the global leather industry slaughters more than a billion animals and tans their skins and hides to create leather. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) Whether you’re a vegetarian/vegan or not, that stat is disturbing. But if you know anything about factory farming, it’s really not that surprising.

I use to justify buying leather because like many people I have spoken to, we just assume leather is a by product from the meat industry and if the skins aren’t turned into leather, then we’re just being distastefully wasteful (Not that anything about factory farming is tasteful)

The leather misconception

But this is the main misconception. Somehow buying products that are made out of the skin from dead animals is justified simply because it would go to waste otherwise. It’s a general consideration that leather is a by-product of factory farming, but this isa weak argument considering the disgusting practices that take place in order to obtain said leather and the fact that leather is the most profitable ‘by product’ of the meat industry (Deng-Cheng Liu, “Better Utilization of By-Products From the Meat Industry)

By buying leather you are still directly contributing to its demand and the horrific practices of factory farming used to obtain said leather.

Factory farming is part of the fast fashion industry

In order to create leather, animals must endure the same horrors of factory farming, think overcrowding and confinement, un-anesthetized castration, dehorning and skinning, starvation and general all round, cruel treatment.

Majority of the world’s leather comes from countries like China and India of whom have very few laws to abide by when it comes to animal, worker and environmental welfare. By no means can the western world be proud of the way they treat animals in factory farms but due to the very few laws that exist in China and India, the poor treatment of farm animals in these countries really has no limit.

Cows are considered holy creatures in certain parts of India and it is known that they are forced to march without food or water for days across borders for slaughter to avoid breaking local laws, not to mention how they are treated if they are too tired to continue. Think beatings, stabbings and the use of chillie peppers which are rubbed in the eyes of cows. These practices barely scratch the surface.

It’s very common practice in China to not only slaughter cows for their skin but also dogs and cats (Not that a dog or cat’s life is more important than a cow’s) but your favourite hand bag could be made from the skin of man’s best friend (Insert stereotypical dog’s name here) and of course the reason for that is because there are no regulatory laws in place surrounding the labelling of said leather and their origins.

The environmental and health Impact of the leather industry

Another misconception with leather is the ridiculous notion that it is far more sustainable because it decomposes faster than unnatural materials. Uhh No. Leather undergoes the tanning process to prevent it from decomposing by stabilising the collagen and protein fibres, therefore leather can take up to 12 years to fully decompose. 12 years is a huge amount of time for an apparent ‘natural’ material to sit in landfill.

During the 1800’s animal skins were air dried and tanned with vegetable oils and tannins, however the industry has changed dramatically where we now use dangerous chemicals like Formaldehyde, Chrome, Natrium and Ammonium salts. Ok those words may not mean much to you, but over exposure to said chemicals have led to debilitating diseases and genetic deformities in future generations of those who work in the leather tanning industry, not to mention the damaging effect the chemical waste has on our communities, waterways, ecosystems and wildlife

Oh and FYI, factory farming is the single largest contributor to global warming and climate change. (Meat the truth documentary)

How can I put this simply?

In order to house and feed livestock, rainforests are cleared in order to create space. This then means there are less trees to do their thang, i.e. capture carbon dioxide through photosynthesis (so basically clean the air of pollutants) then the livestock fart all day everyday only releasing methane gases into the atmosphere.

Where the heck are the trees to clean this shit up? OHH that’s right, we cut them all down because, yay MEAT AND LEATHER!  Soz rant city.

What are the alternatives?

There are stacks of alternatives to leather but the alternatives can be quite conflictual. The main reason as to why leather has been in use for such a long time is because of its amazing durability and the fact that it lasts for frikking ever (If cared for correctly of course)

So yeah, I get it, and although some would argue that leather IS the more sustainable option because it’s less likely to fall apart and we’re likely to keep it in our wardrobe for longer, one must keep in mind the horrific leather making processes.

Although vegan leather is kinder to animals, majority of faux leather options are super unsustainable as they are often made from synthetic materials some of which can be dangerous to humans and the environment. “Some types of faux leather make use of petroleum-derived materials. These can include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that can be harmful to health because it contains chlorine that also is bad for the planet as it causes pollution. Besides for chlorine, PVC also contains toxic additives such as lead” (Giulia Simolo)

There is so much information out there and researching our every purchase can be exhausting, so it’s easy to become greenwashed with deceiving marketing terms like ‘faux’ ‘vegan friendly’ ‘green’ ‘imitation’ etc etc as many of these terms aren’t actually regulated.

Unfortunately the leather debate is a vast spectrum of colours that nobody likes, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t, but by being aware you can indeed make better decisions.

Only buy second hand leather

There are so many beautiful second hand and vintage leather goods out there. By buying second hand, you are no longer directly contributing to the demand of leather production. You are also giving that beautiful tooled leather handbag a second life and saving it from landfill for at least another few years.

Be a legend with your unique handbag while doing your little bit to care about the earth.

Only buy from reputable alternative leather brands – Piñatex

Piñatex Piñatex Piñatex!! I am SO excited to tell you about Piñatex. Piñatex is an innovative sustainable, non-woven textile made from the waste fibres of pineapple leaves. Sourced and made in the Phillipines, Piñatex has provided new industry and provides additional jobs and income for farmers.

Piñatex is a more sustainable alternative to leather and other petroleum based products by leaps and bounds and is comparable to animal leather in durability, texture, and versatility. Unlike animal leathers, no extra land, water, fertilisers and pesticides are required to produce Piñatex as the by product from pineapples is used in its production, truly encompassing the cradle to cradle approach.

Although Piñatex is not yet fully biodegradable post manufacturing, it is compostable under the right conditions. It is an innovative material and Ananas Anam (the company that discovered and produce Piñatex) are looking to develop the product to be fully biodegradable. So watch this space!

Piñatex have also been certified as a ‘Vegan Fashion label’ by PETA AND have received PETA’s innovation award in 2015 alongside Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and Simone Rocha.

 

I cannot express my excitement and love for this amazing material enough, and am so excited to see it grow in popularity, so here are a list of companies that are already using Piñatex to make their products

Po-Zu

ello v black piñatex

Vegemoda pinana bags

Rombaut sneakers

BASS pineapple sneaker with rubber sole BLACK

 

5 Ethical Australian Fashion Labels You Need to Know About

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I adore op-shopping, always have and always will. I’ve loved op shopping since I was wee brat on the hippie streets of Lismore (try not to hold it against me) all the way up to now as an ‘adult’ (still a brat though)

It’s safe to say that I’ve hunted down second hand shopping in every country I have ever visited. From Spanish and Parisian flea markets, to London, Phnom Penh, Tokyo, Vancouver, Las Vegas and New York thriftstores, just to list a few.

Basically my thrifting game is strong…

I’ve always loved second hand shopping for the story and the ‘thrill of the hunt’. I conjure up romantic past life stories of each thrifted piece and take pride in telling my friends where I bought my clothes.

It’s rare that I buy brand new (bar underwear duh) so when I do, I want my clothing to have a story. Where did it come from? Who made it? What is it made from? That, as well as the obvious reasons that they are produced in a sustainable and ethical way is why I try my hardest to only buy from the best ethical Australian brands.

I’ve had loads of requests regarding the local brands that I shop and stand by, and I have chosen the following 5 brands not only for how lovely their collections are, but because of their story and mission.

The Social Outfit

The Social outfit is an amazing clothing brand/organisation that produces unique and bold pieces that are made from digitally printed silk and excess donated fabric from the fashion industry. The clothing is sewn and manufactured in a back room in store where you can literally peek through and see the talented team working away. You can’t get more transparent than that!

Because many of the pieces are made from donated fabrics, each collection is limited edition making your purchase unique and one of a kind. The clothing is made by new migrants and refugees living in refugee communities in Sydney. When you purchase from the Social Outfit, not only are you wearing a super cool piece, you’re also contributing to a fair wage, training and a secure job for the workers.

Their one of a kind prints produced by Australian designers here in Australia, are bold, bright and very Gorman esque but without the unethical (and overpriced for no good reason) reputation. I’ve adored the Gorman style but upon discovering Gorman’s lack of transparency I am no longer the loyal customer I once was. Why on earth would I pay $200 plus for a skirt of low quality, produced internationally, by a brand that refuses to be transparent with their customers, when I can buy a gorgeous one of a kind piece from The Social Outfit with an awesome story?

So if you’re like me and have been looking for that Gorman alternative, then look no further, because these cool cats are the real deal and their designs are a million times better than those of Gorman. (Soz not soz Gorman!)

Abbey Rich

Is a cute and quirky north Melbourne designer who hand makes each and every piece from the scratchiest of scratch! Yep, she designs and hand prints all of the fabric herself. She even sews everything herself so you know that each piece is a labour of love. Everything is made to order ensuring fabric is used as efficiently as possible with very little waste.

Although the fabric used isn’t re-purposed or recycled, her collection is small and made to last, so your special purchase will be a longstanding part of your wardrobe for years and years to come!

If you love your big bold pastel prints, then Abbey Rich designs are right up your alley!

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Vege Threads

Vege Threads is another lovely Australian designed and manufactured clothing brand from, yep you guessed it, sunny Melbourne. Their beautiful pieces are all made from natural and 100% organic fabrics, ensuring minimal environmental impact. Their goal is to have as little impact on the earth as possible, with plant dyed silk and yoga wear rather than the nasty chemicals that pollute our waterways through traditional forms of dying.

Like Abbey Rich and the Social Outfit, Vege threads produce their clothing with limited runs every season to ensure waste and unwanted stock is kept to a minimum. Vege Threads are continuously looking for smarter and more environmentally friendly ways to run their business, from the general production right down to their use of packaging.

So if you love stylish, high quality basics that look and feel great then you need to check out Vege Threads! They are the go to for that super comfy, cotton jumpsuit or your classic white tee!

Organic Tee Dress

Carlie Ballard

Ok, I know I’ve rattled on about Carlie Ballard before, but it’s with very good reason. Each and every Carlie Ballard piece is made with absolute and utter love and care, all the way from the hand loom (hand woven) fabrics to the post sale advice.

Although not manufactured here in Australia, Carlie Ballard truly values and supports the talented workers of her Lucknow India workshop. The workers are ensured fair pay, excellent working conditions and consistent training. They work 5 x 8 hours days plus overtime, flexible working hours, interest free loans, financial support for training and education, paid study leave, literacy classes and the list goes on!

When you purchase a Carlie Ballard garment, not only are you contributing to a fair and better life for Indian garment workers, you’re also buying 100% organic and hand woven fabrics minimizing the carbon footprint. The Carlie Ballard style is relaxed casual yet stylishly classy all at the same time. So do yourself a favor and check out her collection!

Limited number of our DESTINATION Jumpsuit arriving end of this month. To ensure delivery before Christmas drop us an email to pre order. ✖️✖️ #artisan #ikat #jumpsuit #India #carlieballard #ethical #sustainablefashion

Camp Cove Swim

Camp Cove is a beautiful and ethically manufactured swimwear brand from Sydney. Every piece just oozes nostalgia with their adorable, one of a kind retro prints and styles. (Hands down the most flattering high waisted swimmers I have worn) All of their fabrics are printed and designed in Sydney making them 100% exclusive to the Camp Cove brand, meaning you won’t find your one of a kind print anywhere else! Not only is the swimwear locally made and printed they also incorporate recycled fabrics into the lining of all their swimsuits.

It’s safe to say that I am obsessed with Camp Cove swimwear, so if you’re looking for a pair of togs this summer that are all things ethical, seriously, look no further because Camp Cove are simply adorable.

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What goes around, comes around – The circular economy

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There are so many buzz words that circulate when we talk about ethical fashion, but one that has well and truly caught my attention is the ‘circular economy’. I was quite confused about what a circular economy meant when it came to fashion, but the more I learned about it, the more and more fascinated I have become.

So what exactly is a circular economy? The Ellen Macarthur Foundation sums it up beautifully.

A circular economy is one that is restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles”

Did you catch that? I feel like the concept of a circular economy is an onion. There are layers. But I best understand the concept by breaking it into 2.

Onion Layer One – The technical side 

The circular economy is the overall utilisation of resources between different companies and bodies through creative collaborations.

If I have learned anything from my obsession with sustainability, it’s that collaboration is key to a successful circular economy. A great yet unexpected example of a successful collaboration, was that time that KFC here in Aussie land transformed 60,000 KFC uniforms into 25,000 m2 of carpet underlay.

Woah! Can we just take a moment to appreciate how epic that is? Unfortunately, most work uniforms cannot be resold in op-shops, so I am sure you can imagine the hundreds of thousands of tonnes that old work uniforms alone make up in landfill each year. The mass production of uniforms is something that I never even thought about which I think goes to show just how unfathomable the amount of textile waste on this earth really is.

Most importantly, how the heck could KFC pull off such a large logistical feat? well, KFC partnered with their existing food delivery suppliers, Cut Fresh Salads and Unifresh to tackle the challenge of returning 60,000 uniforms across the country. Instead of transporting empty loads after a regular delivery, KFC utilised the empty space in their supplier’s delivery trucks by backloading 7,000 kilograms worth of materials to Pacific NonWovens from their distribution centres where they could then be recycled and turned into carpet underlay, thus saving money and using the resources already available to them through creative thinking.

That’s 60,000 tonnes of clothing NOT adding to the already unfathomable amount of landfill that exists on this earth. It is this innovative collaboration and utilisation of resources that really characterises the technical side of the circular economy.

Onion Layer Two – The microbiological side 

 The circular economy goes even deeper than that, as deep as the fabric that makes up your favorite dress. Technological growth and changes in lifestyle have demanded and driven the growth in the production of complicated fabrics, but unfortunately when it comes to recycling man made, synthetic clothing, the technology needed to break them down in a sustainable manner simply does not exist yet. This then means that complicated, mixed fabrics have less recycling options as they take much longer to breakdown and are either limited to donation (If it makes it) Rags, or yep you guessed it, landfill 😦

Cotton is one of the most biodegradable fabrics you can own, so much so, you can compost your old 100% cotton shirt and it will breakdown in as little as 2 weeks (Under the right conditions of course)

Ok maybe my hippie is showing, but how RAD is that! composting your clothes!?

I don’t imagine everyone running out to start a compost to compost their old cotton clothes, buuut just in case you do, know that clothing made from synthetic fibers such as Polyesters/nylon and acrylic shouldn’t be added to your compost as these will not breakdown naturally like cotton, linen, pure wool, silk and hemp will.

What our clothes are made from is very telling as to where they will end up. Think of it like this – when you purchase a piece of clothing, you are having a direct say in its end life. Will they go straight to landfill and take years to breakdown contributing to CO2 emissions? Or will they be recycled back into its original form to then make up another piece of clothing with an awesome story to tell?

It’s hard to know what our clothes are made from and which fabrics should be avoided, but here are 2 super cool clothing brands that have made this their mission-

Mud Jeans 

Mud jeans really encapsulate what the circular economy is. Firstly they are based on a lease or buy outright system. If you lease a pair of jeans from Mud you usually pay around 7 pounds a month, but the awesome thing is, when you decide you no longer want them for whatever reason, you can return them! (This is pretty frikking cool considering you can trade them over for the next best style without adding to landfill) Mud will then break them back down into their original properties and turn them into a ‘new’ pair of Mud jeans.

But this awesome concept is only possible because Mud jeans are made out of the one simple fabric,100% organic cotton and the technology to re-use 100% cotton actually exists. There’s a bunch of other really cool things that Mud do and represent but I’d be here all day, so you should really check them out for yourself 🙂

justine_blog

RUMI X

Rumi X are an awesome company which makes beautiful active and yoga wear out of recycled bottles. If that’s not zen AF, I don’t know what is? The process starts with non-recyclable materials being removed from the bottles. The bottles are then shredded, melted and dried into flakes. The flakes are then pulled into yarn and the yarn is then spun into the Rumi X fabric. Unlike Mud Jeans though there doesn’t seem to be a reuse system in place where you can return your Rumi X clothing to be recycled again. (Perhaps this recycle process is more difficult compared to cotton) but the fact that Rumi X use existing resources which would have only contributed to landfill and water pollution this makes them a pretty awesome contender in the circular economy fashion sector!

Do you know of any cool Australian brands that are based on the circular economy business model? If so give them a shout out here as I would love to highlight our local conscious talent!

 

H&M Sustainable?

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Guilt. What a shitty feeling. More and more I feel guilt about being human in the western world. It was guilt that turned me into a vegetarian and it was guilt (among other things) that turned me into an avid op-shopper. I guess you could say that although a shitty feeling, guilt has its place in making change.

Ok, I don’t want to get all ‘Dear Diary’ on your arse, but there are times that my obsession with living a sustainable life can become overwhelming and stressful. Sometimes I wish I could unlearn truths so I can go back to eating meat and shopping frivolously at H&M like a large chunk of the western world.

Ignorance. Is. Bliss.

But as cliché as it is, it’s all about balance. Not that I can really preach about being balanced, but what I do know is that balance isn’t something that you obtain and just keep, it’s something you must continuously work to maintain.

So if you’re anything like me, just remember that it is impossible to live in this world without a footprint, and killing yourself with guilt over that is simply unproductive.

Speaking of balance, shopping at fast fashion giants isn’t the end of the world if done responsibly! Slowly but surely the awareness surrounding fast fashion is growing and fast fashion giants are actually starting to listen.

H&M’s announcement of world recycle week, April 18th – 24th is definitely a step in the right direction. If you don’t know about world recycle week, basically it’s an ethical fashion initiative launched by H&M where you can bring your unwanted clothes in shop for recycling and in return for each bag, you receive one 15% off your next purchase voucher, with a maximum of 2 vouchers per day.

But. There is always a but.

Of course I want to focus on the positive here, but the only way we can work towards positive change is to always ask questions. It’s so easy for a big companies to position themselves as heros with declarations like world recycle week and unfortunately, most consumers are instantly satisfied and suddenly feel better about their purchasing habits without looking for further information. But hey, that’s human nature and I for one can relate first hand.

H&M announced world recycle week to be from April the 18th– to the 24th coincidentally overlapping with the Fashion Revolution campaign. Fashion Revolution day (now week) is dedicated to raising awareness around the lives of garment workers by encouraging us all to ask ‘Who made my clothes’ This week was also created to commemorate the 1,134 garment workers who were killed and the 2,500 workers who were injured in the Rana Plaza disaster on the 24th of April 2013.

Although the motive behind world recycle week is a positive one, it definitely raises a few questions.

Why would H&M introduce World Recycle Week the same week as Fashion Revolution week, which is the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy?

Introducing world recycle week during this time diverts the attention from the Rana Plaza tragedy and remembering the Rana Plaza tragedy is integral in driving change in the fashion industry, after all is was the Rana Plaza tragedy which brought to light everything that is wrong with the fashion industry.

Isn’t offering customers a 15% off voucher for their old clothes just encouraging the production of more clothes? I mean they really seem to be missing the point here right? the last thing we need is to create more clothes to purchase.

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Of course H&M want to appear like they give a shit about sustainability and this marketing campaign is a great way to do so. But it is misleading to say the least. Due to the current technologies, it would take up to 12 years for H&M to use up 1000 tons of fashion waste, and the real kicker here is that H&M produce 1000 tons in clothing in a matter of days!

Although this is a good indicator that fast fashion giants are finally caving to consumer pressure, I think it’s safe to say that H&M have a very long way to go and we shouldn’t all go rushing to our closest H&M for our next purchase.

7 reasons why you should be an op-shopper

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Because don’t you want to save the earth? 

You’ve heard it all before, but I’ll say it again. And I’ll probably say it next week too.

No joke, fast fashion is the second largest polluter on this earth, second only to the oil industry. To put this into perspective, we as a race consume 80 BILLION pieces of clothing every year, that’s up 400% from only 20 years ago. Although many of us donate our clothes to the local thrift store, only 10% end up there with the rest ending up in landfill (or drowning markets in third world countries, only to destroy the local industry) Source – (True cost the movie)

Let’s talk landfill (sorry gross) Synthetic products are non-biodegradable, meaning they don’t decompose, only adding to the millions of tonnes of waste on earth. The products that do decompose (think wool) produce and release huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere which contributes significantly to global warming.

If landfill wasn’t enough maybe the billions of liters of water used to produce clothing might be, or the poisonous greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide (N2O) emitted during manufacturing (which by the way has almost 300 times the impact that one pound of carbon dioxide has on global warming) Source – (theconversation.com.au)

Ahh but don’t forget the poisonous pesticides used in cotton farming or the highly toxic dyes used during the manufacture process or the unsustainable use of natural resources when shipping, farming and processing.

So whether or not you give a shit about the environment (um you should) your next purchase will either be supporting the destruction of the planet or making that tiny bit of difference in creating change. Yep, that’s some thickly slathered guilt right there!

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 Fashions fade, style is eternal

It’s no secret that the fast fashion machine pumps out trends for the masses, turning us all into clones. Clothing is the ultimate form of non-verbal communication and what you choose to wear everyday paints a picture of who you are. Whether or not you make a conscious decision each day to express your individual style, you are unconsciously communicating with those around you.

Not only is op-shopping the more sustainable choice, it’s a great way to really define and shape your own personal style through unique handpicked items that have character and a story to tell.

You’re a unique one of a kind babe, so why would you shop any other way?

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Cos you ain’t made of money

But even if you were made of money, you probably have better things to spend it on, you know, like wine?

Op-shopping is affordable, especially when you stumble across those hidden gems in small country towns. You can find unique, great quality clothes that won’t break the bank with the added bonus that a percentage of the money you spend usually contributes to a charity. So not only are you saving the mula, you’re also contributing to a positive cause!

You can’t get that shopping at H & M!

It’s all about the thrill of the hunt

There’s a lot to be said for the hunt. Searching through racks of clothing is always worth it when you find that one of a kind, vintage designer piece for less than you would pay for lunch. Shopping first hand just never offers the kind of satisfaction you get from finding a one of a kind piece. Not to mention that there’s nothing cooler than when people ask “Where did you get that amazing jacket?” and you get to tell them you scored it for a fiver.

Take that fast fashion!

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Shop local to support local

By shopping at your local op-shop you are supporting the local economy and when you support the local economy you are in turn supporting your local community rather than the unethical, international fast fashion giants who generate billions in profit at the expense our beautiful planet and even people’s lives

Support humane working conditions

If you don’t buy brand new clothes from ethically sourced brands, there’s a good chance you’re buying clothes made by underpaid workers who work slave like hours in unsafe conditions. By op-shopping you are no longer directly contributing to this type of exploitation. Instead as noted above, you are supporting your local op-shop and in turn the people in the community.

There is enough clothing in the world already

80 billion pieces of clothing are added to landfill every year on this earth, so I think it’s safe to say we have enough clothing to go around. It’s all well and good to buy clothing from ethical brands, but the last thing we need is ANOTHER clothing brand producing MORE clothes. Whether or not that new brand is sustainable, the resources and energy used to produce the clothing might be less but are still impacting this earth and of course decrease the chances of second hand clothing have a second life. That’s not to discredit all of the amazing sustainable fashion brands out there because reality is, we are never going to stop producing and creating, I mean what else are we going to do? But if you can buy the piece of clothing you are after second hand rather than first, do it. Do it, do it, do it!

Have you cottoned on yet?

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I don’t know about you but I never really understood why people have always harped on about organic cotton. It’s always just seemed quite wanky and pretentious to me. Nobody eats cotton (well no one I know anyways) so what’s the big deal if the cotton we buy isn’t organic? And to be honest with you, I very rarely go out of my way to buy organic fruits and veg. Does that make me a bad vegetarian?

I so badly want to be one of those beautiful, hipped out humans, with long luxurious hair, who wander the local farmers market filling their hessian bag with organic, seasonal fruits and veg. But alas I am not, so it never really made much sense to ensure my wardrobe was full to the brim of organic, cotton everything.

It’s funny to think that something as lovely and comforting as cotton could have such a dark effect on people’s lives and the environment. Not to sound dramatic, but the wool or should I say cotton, has really been pulled over our eyes on this one.

To give you some background, cotton is grown in over 100 countries with the leading cotton growing contenders being China, USA, India, Pakistan and Brazil and is apparently responsible for a whopping 11% of the total production of pesticides in the world and 24% of the worlds insecticides. (source – The EJE Foundation)

Let’s talk pesticides. Ok, you’ve heard it all before, pesticides are bad. Sure they serve their purpose in allowing for the mass production of crops, but very simply, over exposure to pesticides is not good. They are mostly bad for the underpaid farmers that are exposed to them everyday, their families and the environment in which the cotton is grown. As a crop, conventional cotton requires the largest amount of pesticides out of ANY crops grown non-organically. Many of the chemicals used were originally developed as toxic nerve agents during World War 2. You know, the shit developed to kill people? Terminate? End lives? That’s the shit many conventional cotton farmers and their communities are exposed to everyday to grow cotton for the western world.

You can probably guess the effect that that kind of exposure has on a human being. Over exposure to harmful pesticides causes’ infertility, birth defects, cancer and the list continues. In fact this is evident throughout various farming communities across India where children are born with physical deformities and mental retardation’s.

Pesticides also have a harmful effect on the environment, (surprise, surprise) poisoning water sources, damaging ecosystems and of course killing wildlife. If that isn’t enough, 250,000 Indian cotton farmers have committed suicide over the last 15 years due to the economic hardship caused by massive amounts of debt from buying and maintaining the crops from genetically modified cotton seeds from Monsanto, along with a major lack of governmental support and appropriate compensation from the Indian government.

The original native cotton seeds are apparently no longer obtainable, so with pesticides rising in price, the market price for cotton decreasing, and  uncontrollable weather conditions destroying crops, farmers are forced to give up their farms and are no longer able to pay the extortionate, high interest loans they originally took out to purchase their farms.

So basically what I am trying to say is that we shouldn’t be supporting the unethical practices of non-organic cotton farming, due to the devastating effect it has on the physical and mental health of farmers, their families, future families, communities and of course the environment. Phhew!

So if your next clothing purchase isn’t going to be second-hand, you should seriously consider buying organic cotton that is GOTS certified (Global Organic Textile Standard)

Check out my favorite ethical Australian and NZ brands for buying organic cotton –

Kowtow Clothing –

 

Carlie Ballard –

Carlieballard

Alas the Label –

 

 

 

 

 

Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.

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There is something really powerful about a killer outfit. A killer outfit will set you up for a good day, and a day from hell can be better managed when your outfit is on point.

That’s probably vain, and perhaps I need to dig a little deeper to access a more sustainable source of self-worth, but in a world where creativity and independent thinking is oppressed, the clothing you wear on your body is the ultimate form of self-expression.

I buy the vast majority of my clothes secondhand, that much is obvious. In fact I have a hard time not buying my clothes second hand due to the genuine guilt I feel if I don’t (Bar bra’s and undies thanks!)

But it can be really hard to NOT shop at fast fashion giants, with the usual suspects of course being H & M and Zara.

I am not alone in saying that when I enter an H & M (which is very rare these days), my brain enters meltdown mode. Maybe it’s the white blinding lights and the carefully placed fedoras, but everything within me is convinced that I need that paisley print jumpsuit on the size 6 mannequin, and I need it now.

One major difference between slow fashion and fast fashion is convenience. We are slaves to convenience and H & M couldn’t make it any easier. All your favourite outfits are mass produced and handed to you on a silver platter for neat a $19.95, and that my friend, is Saturday park hangs sorted, right there.

My recent and exhausting trip to H & M really cemented my desire to ‘shop with purpose’ We can’t buy everything second hand, but shopping with purpose is a very realistic way of life and your wardrobe will thank you for it!

This is what shopping with purpose means to me –

  • Buying good quality – You get what you pay for.

Spend generously on high quality staple items that you know will last more than one season. Items that you’re not just going to fleetingly throw away once the next fast fashion trend emerges. If you ever needed an excuse to spend more money here it is, in the long run you’ll end up with less shitty throwaway clothes, more money in your pocket and good quality clothing that you can be proud of.

  • Do your research – Know what your money is supporting.

Author Anna Lappe hits the nail on the head, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” If you are going to make the decision to spend generously on your clothes, or even if you aren’t, at least know what your money is supporting. Do your research, only shop with brands that are transparent about where their clothes come from.

Ask yourself these questions –

  • Does the brand pay a living wage to those who make their clothes?
  • Does the brand allow for humane and safe working conditions for their workers?
  • Does the brand support organic cotton farmers?
  • Is the brand environmentally conscious? i.e. How do they deal with chemical waste?
  • Does the brand use animal products, and if so, is it sourced ethically?

Ultimately, we all just need to stop buying shitty ass clothes and shop with purpose because there is no truer statement than Anna Lappe’s. The money you spend is your vote. Cast it into something you are proud to get behind. Demand change, demand transparency.