Sustainable Fashion Futures

Haley Richardson Photography 2011

Hannah Parris, Director of homegrown eco-fashion label Audrey Blue (which is the only Aussie label to have achieved full GOTS certification!) says more can be done in Australia to encourage sustainable practice. Having recently attended Ethical Fashion Forum‘s 2013 SOURCE Summit in London, Hannah is bringing her knowledge and inspiration from discussions around the future of sustainable style back home. We caught up with Hannah to find out how she hopes the Australian market might respond.

What lessons do you think there are for Australia from events like the SOURCE Summit?

There are many lessons for Australia. A key message from the day is that the fashion industry is already undertaking changes to make it more socially responsible and ecologically sustainable – and more and more widespread change is inevitable. As leading brands such as Puma, H&M, Levis, Stella McCartney and many more engage with the sustainability agenda, it is likely that Australian brands and retailers will need to adopt some or all of these practices – either because it underpins future competitiveness with international sources of clothing or because they are pressured to do so by the public.

The good news for Australian companies is that many of the challenges to sustainability – such as upscaling, cultural change, communication, sourcing etc – are being worked through and solved on an international scale. In many cases, it’s just a matter of adapting them to the Australian context.

What would you like to see Australia do more of to support our ethical and eco fashion industry?

We have a lot of really good eco-fashion labels in Australia (and New Zealand). It would be great to see large retailers and brands helping to upscale them for mass market distribution – this is one way we can really make a dent in the social and ecological impact of our clothing industry.

What do you think are our big challenges and opportunities?

The level of awareness around the social and ecological impacts of garments is relatively low in Australia, so a big challenge to the eco-fashion industry in Australia is sharing the story of why this is important. This is key to creating a mainstream market for eco-fashion. The opportunities, though, are huge – we are behind the UK and the US, which means we can learn a lot from them and bring innovative practices back to Australia.