Fashion advocates fight for ethical future

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By LAUREN ROSENBERG

Three advocates for ethical fashion are fighting to change the fast fashion industry through the power of social media.

Following the sixth Fashion Revolution Week that ended last Sunday, the #imadeyourclothes campaign has been used to to educate others on the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion.

The advocates include New Zealand-based slow fashion activist Kate Hall, Melbourne-based clothing designer Nicole Westmorland, and UK designer and seamstress Isabel Knowles.

Ms Hall, who is an ethical fashion blogger and sustainable lifestyle advocate also known as Ethically Kate, said that although the people-led campaign was the best kind of movement to start with, it was time to start thinking on a bigger scale.

Kate Hall and her friends encourage others to question where their clothes come from. Picture: Ethically Kate

“We can’t be activists without being political,” she said.

“[Change] obviously does come from individuals, but we need individuals, organisations and government, all three parties, to focus on it together.”

For Ms Hall, slow fashion is not only about a shift in buying patterns, but also a consumer’s attitude towards clothing.

“Changing the mindset around our clothes, from seeing them as disposables to reusables and assets is huge,” she said.

Ms Westmorland is a textile graphic designer and maker who proudly endorses the #Imadeyourclothes campaign.

She launched her brand last year and designs and hand-makes everything in in her Melbourne-based studio.

“I personally believe that slow fashion is the future,” Ms Westmorland said.

 “The who made my clothes hashtag is making people stop and think and learn more about responsible consumerism.”

Nicole Westmorland wants her customers to know that she made their clothes. Picture: Nicole Westmorland

In terms of advice for consumers wanting to know more about ethical clothing, Ms Westmorland said to ask your favourite brands about their processes and supply chains.

“If people don’t ask they’re not going to change,” she said.

“Ask questions, be advocates for what’s right and what’s going to be sustainable for the future.”

Ms Knowles is a UK-based ethical clothing and dressmaker who sells her clothing online and in local stores.

Isabel Knowles designed and fashioned her jumpsuit herself using ethically sourced materials. Picture: Isabel Knowles

She advocates for people questioning where the clothing was made, how far it had travelled and whether the hands that touched the garment were treated fairly.

“Any actions that brings us back to the humans, rather than consumers, is good,” she said.

This is where the magic happens for Isabel, in her studio. Picture: Isabel Knowles

For those wanting to move into ethical fashion, but who are feeling overwhelmed and out-of-budget, the designer recommends doing what works for you.

“It is not all about making bigger purchases from ethical brands, but just thinking more and enjoying your clothes more and loving them more,” Ms Knowles said.

“Only buy what you know will be treasured and worn and makes you feel great, can be mended or handed on … it’s about having fun and getting joy out of fashion.”