Sustainable fashion is an emerging and new industry in Australia. Although well established in Europe there are still only a handful of eco-fashion designers in the Australian market.
The rise of ethical fashion practices in Australia has enabled designers to no longer see high fashion and eco-fashion as mutually exclusive. With designers like Lisa Gorman and Sam Elsom actively including organic items in their collections. Gorman was one of the first designers to launch an organic collection in 2007. Yet there are still only a handful of designers who offer sustainable fashion in Australia. The high cost of organic materials in Australia means that for most designers there is a significantly lower profit margin than their main lines. Customers are less willing to purchase these items, as unlike organic food, these items do not directly benefit them. With the increased adoption of these options from the greater fashion community, the designs will slowly be embraced as integral to everyday wear rather than luxury pieces.
Suzanne Lee from Central Saint Martins in London, and the director of BioCouture has developed the ability to grow fabrics from green tea, sugar and bacteria. This ability to create fabrics from easily accessible products is in stark contrast to our current consumption of fast fashion, which not only has a considerable effect on the environment but also is at the expense of workers in developing countries.
Our ability to consider more sustainable production practices in the Asia Pacific will enable us to address some of the major environmental and sustainability problems that are associated with our fashion industry. This would enable designers to create their own materials as opposed to relying on the manufacture and shipment from factories around the world.
Rather than fast fashion, more focus should be placed on sustainable fashion practices, like vintage shopping, applying the war time adage of “make do and mend” or the adoption of ‘biocouture’ and the use of biodegradable products. We should encourage mindfulness when purchasing and a movement towards quality and longevity over quantity.