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A focus on ethical fashion

A focus on ethical fashion

Amelia McFarlane

While some of us have long questioned how sustainable our fashion is, the fact is that fast fashion brands dominate the fashion landscape in Australia.

However, since the 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, which killed 1,100 mostly garment workers, and injured a further 2,500 others, the world has sat up and taken better notice of where their clothes are being made, and by whom.

This push is just as well, according to Amelia McFarlane of Colour Me In Styling. She helps Australians find ways to be more sustainable by firstly starting with taking another look at what’s already hanging in their wardrobe.

Sustainable fashion refers to products made with an ethical philosophy, she explains. “Careful consideration is placed on who made the products and where they’re made.”

Environmental facts are also considered, including the materials used, energy consumption, the dying process and if it’s recyclable. “It should matter to Australians because we need to be mindful of less waste and caring for our planet. We also need to lead by example and teach our children to do the same.”

While she understands the drawcard of affordability, fast fashion comes with poor quality fabrics and cuts.

“There’s more likely a shady background on the making process, with underpaid workers in shocking workplace conditions. If a consumer was exposed to these employees’ lives first-hand, they would rethink their purchasing habits. Also, with fast fashion comes impulse buying. And with impulse buying, there often comes waste,” McFarlane says.

Pressure needs to be placed on senior management of fast fashion labels to rethink their making processes so they’re more ethical.

The hashtag #whomademyclothes on Instagram is an example of a growing awareness around the world of who is making the clothes we wear. “I’m a huge advocate of locally made. I love to support local designers who are choosing a more challenging and potentially less profitable path with an ethical focus.

“Designers with an ethical ethos are more likely to be very fussy when it comes to selecting fabric and passionate about the construction of the garment. With local ethical design comes careful consideration on ‘what is flattering’.

The fact is that there are only a few key pieces required to create a succinct wardrobe.

Firstly, consider you have all the basics, she says. Make your focus quality, not quantity. Become mindful of supporting locally made, and ask the question, ‘who made my clothes?’,” she says.

McFarlane offers a service to establish colours that work best with her clients’ skin, eye and hair colour. To do this, she sorts through their wardrobe in search of gaps and buying patterns that need to be broken. “I create a list of basic items that will open up what they have in their existing wardrobe, which means the client only buys what they need. I also give them advice on dressing for their body shape.”

“I thrive on creating new outfits from a clients’ existing wardrobe. There’s a sense of joy and relief when a client recognises how to wear something with other pieces they already have in their wardrobe!”

She recommends Bianca Spender for corporate or special occasion dressing, and Citizen Wolf for basics. Outland Denim, Milk & Thistle, Empire of the Bees and Ruby Raisin also made the list. For shoes, she recommends Radical Yes.