At the risk of stating the obvious, the clothes we wear matter. And not just in the sense of sartorial splendour and self-expression, but for those across the supply chain and beyond working towards a more sustainable fashion future. To celebrate these creatives putting people and planet first, we’ve introduced a new digital series called Nice Rack! (…get it) so we can go behind the seams with some of our favourite sustainable brands, together.
Hailing from Melbourne and created by founder and designer Amelia Mercoulia, Baaby’s range of ethically manufactured womenswear, menswear and swimwear will get you seamlessly from beachside days to balmy nights. Catch some waves in a range of Econyl, regenerated nylon togs before relaxing in soft and fluffy terry towelling tops and shorts. The versatile womenswear collection – made in Australia using natural and recycled fabrics – includes puff-sleeve blouses, high-waisted pants and frou-frou skirts for pops of colour and fun in your everyday wardrobe. All this plus compostable packaging and zero plastic? Baaby’s got your back!
photos of soiree collection SUPPLIED
Tell us about yourself…
I am a local Melbourne girl with a love for creativity and design. Summer is my favourite season and I love to be by the beach in a Baaby bikini – I do love the winter outfits though! I love animals, the outdoors and our beautiful planet, so I strive to always make the most sustainable decisions for my business.
I aim to create beautiful quality garments that can be passed down generations.
What does sustainable fashion mean to you?
Sustainable fashion is a bit of an oxymoron in a way as the fashion industry itself is so excessive and unsustainable with fast fashion being a big contributor to waste and landfill. But for me, sustainable fashion means to create pieces slowly, not in excess, locally and from sustainable materials that will break down quickly at the garments’ end-of-life when they eventually have no use for anyone. I aim to create beautiful quality garments that can be passed down generations – I have one of my yiayia‘s (grandma’s) wool coats from the ‘50s that I wear all the time and it’s in perfect condition! Seventy years of wear to me is very sustainable – and I hope to pass this down again.
When did you know you wanted to get into fashion?
I knew from a young age; I always loved clothes and getting dressed up. I used to make all of my own clothes when I was younger – I had a collection of dresses that I had made and my sisters, friends and I would all pass them around and wear them to parties. During school holidays I would often be sewing outfits. I went to fashion uni straight from school.
I find inspiration strikes often when I am not searching for it. It might be a book I am reading and I get a good visual, a movie I have seen, a place I have travelled to or people I meet.
Why were you inspired to start your label and what continues to inspire you as a designer?
I really love the creative side of owning my own fashion label. I have the freedom to be creative and design what I like, I style all of my own photoshoots, and I have even started doing some of the photography. It’s really a multifaceted business. It can be difficult to find inspiration to keep coming up with good ideas – that are also wearable! I find inspiration strikes often when I am not searching for it. It might be a book I am reading and I get a good visual, a movie I have seen, a place I have travelled to or people I meet. I travelled to Greece for work recently and found the people and the scenery so inspiring, and a lot of my new collection is designed around this.
How do you incorporate sustainability/ethical practices within your brand?
I use only natural fibre fabrics, mainly linen and silk, deadstock fabrics and then recycled fabrics for my swimwear. These fabrics are considered to be more sustainable than other fabrics and use less water, chemicals or energy to create. Deadstock fabric is making use of fabric that is already out there in the world and keeping it from ending up in landfill. My swimwear fabric is all made from recycled nylon which is helping to clean up our oceans as a lot of the recycled plastic comes from the sea. I manufacture locally in really small runs and a lot of my garments start as made-to-order only. This means I can gauge consumer demand for different styles before I make them in a factory. I choose to make locally so I can be present in the factories and ensure working conditions are of a high standard. It is expensive to make locally but it’s worth it to have peace of mind. I also have the freedom to make a small number of garments whereas offshore there are often high order minimums which creates a fast-fashion environment of making more and selling more at a cheaper price.
READ MORE: Nice Rack! Karishma Kasabia Felt Unseen by the Fashion World… So She Started Her Own Label
Tell us about any standout moments in your career…
A standout moment is happening right now actually! Melbourne Fashion Week has asked me to be involved in the festival this year. We are hosting an event on sustainability and fashion, it’s called A Sustainable Fashion Journey and is being held on Thursday 13 October. Being invited to be part of M/FW is so exciting and something I am really proud of. It’s great to be recognised by M/FW and really amazing to be part of the festivities this year! I am hoping it’s the first year of many. Tickets to our event can be found on the M/FW website or the Baaby website, they are $10 and $5 from each ticket is going to charity!
What are your favourite Baaby pieces to wear?
In the summertime, I live in my terry towelling outfits. They are so comfortable and made from 100% cotton so nice and breathable. I also love to team a Baaby top with a pair of vintage jeans or some Baaby trousers. This summer I have some really fun new swimwear coming out so I daresay I’ll be spending a lot of time in that!
Who are a few of your favourite local designers?
I am usually wearing Baaby or something vintage from an op-shop, but for my photoshoots, I love to team up with Post Sole Studio; they have amazing Melbourne-made shoes!
What do you think needs to change in the Australian fashion landscape?
I think we need more support for local and sustainable designers, and I think that there should be regulations on sustainability for Australian-owned businesses including shops and big online retailers. Certain requirements that Australian brands have to meet – 50% of fabrics used are sustainable, no plastic packaging, for example. Things like this could really make a difference on a larger scale!