Each fashion week I get rather nostalgic. I think because, quite possibly, what happened there in 2014 is still one of my proudest career achievements....
You see back in 2013 there was a bunch of us that were a little tired of preaching to the same converted ethical fashion bunch of people. We wanted to break away from reaching the same people who already understood what we were trying to communicate. We had a big story to tell back then and we wanted to frame it in a way that the mainstream industry would listen.
Picture 4 of us, Myself (director of Indigo Bazaar and dabbling into my own self titled label), Kelly Elkin (Alas the Label and Now Well Made Clothes), Lisa Heinze (Author of Sustainability with Style and now Dr in Sustainable fashion), and Yatu Widders Hunt (Ethical Fashion blogger and now Director at Cox Inall Ridgeway, specialist Indigenous communications), all sitting down to a glass of red in a small bar in Circular Quay planning our attack on the mainstream industry
We hatched a plan that night and over the preceding months the only task that had to be done was to be front and centre at an industry event! Mercedes Benz Fashion week.
A kick ass proposal was created, a logo was designed by Nadia Hernandez, the document was triple checked. I was nervous as all hell and told Lisa to do the talking haha! We walked into IMG head office in Sydney, I was wearing a Batik dyed dress by Choolips. A UK based brand no longer producing.
Kowtow on the runway. Image - Geogia Blackey
We got the gig, created a company and then worked our absolute butts off to get Australia's first Sustainable Fashion runway show off the ground for MBFWA 2014. EEEKK Curating brands, figuring out who was going to partner with us to pay for it and organising our first runway show was daunting to put it mildly. Navigating the politics of the fashion industry, was intense, this was unchartered waters for us and we needed to prove that what was happening in this parallel universe of ethical fashion was worth noticing.
We had a wonderful bunch of people at the time eager to help and make this show successful. Because you see, in this space people are passionate about the plight of the global community, planet earth and fashion. It was an incredible experience, a total love job. Louise was sales manager at the time at IMG and connected us with a wonderful human in Tiana Wallace whom she knew was also passionate about entering this conscious space. Tiana styled the event and worked tirelessly to help us make this show stack up to the mainstream brands, whilst having a strong impact to the media coming to a sustainable showcase for the VERY FIRST TIME.
We partnered with Elena Antoniau (now Mightly Good Undies) who did an incredible job of getting the right industry to our event, and creating buzz pre and post event aswell!
Lush, Ecostore and Ethical Clothing Australia all helped in financially getting this show off the ground. And all other work was done pro bono. From memory the event cost approx $14k and not a single dime was left to pay anyone for their time once all the key bills were paid. It was an epic collaboration of passionate people who believed in a cause so strongly and knew their skill set would contribute in some way to creating change.
The runway was at The Hughes gallery in Surry Hills.The brands on the runway were Kowtow, Ovna Ovich, Rachel Cassar, The Social Studio, Bhalo, Goodone, and Lalesso. I spoke at the event to introduce Clean Cut and our ambitions for the future as a company, but ultimately for the future of the fashion industry.
"Clean Cut came together as a group of passionate sustainable fashion advocates, but also as a group of fashion lovers. We knew then, as we do now, that if we are to truly transform the fashion industry toward a more sustainable future, there can be no compromise in aesthetics, quality or style." It's strange as i peer back at what we were fighting for back then. It was for fair trade, sustainable fibres, innovation of course. But primarily it was recognition and awareness of this movement in fashion. On reflection, just now as I am writing this piece I realise how far the industry has come. It's transformed from trying to get people to notice and be aware that a movement like this is in existence, to now truly being innovative, transparent and circular in a swiftly changing retail environment.
"We know that not all labels can do all things, but we are here to celebrate the steps that have been made, and to encourage and support further sustainable choices as the industry progresses." This line is still rather poignant to the industry, however it is humbling to see major brands admitting their sustainability journey has only just begun, and that hey have a long way to go. And let's be honest this path of improving our footprint and social stand will evolve forevermore.
Clean Cut curated 3 seminars in the 3 consecutive years post our launch in 2014. Clare Press moderated 2 and Kelly Hush one of these. All on schedule and attracting great numbers for a seminar component at fashion week. Proud. Maybe it was the goody bags or the brochures so meticulously put together. Or was it that our industry was hungry for something more than just a pretty dress.
Clean Cut is currently taking a hiatus as all the directors have since become mothers, which of course is our greatest achievement.