#8: S L O W FASHION FESTIVAL
A group of designers, makers and entrepreneurs are shaking up the fashion scene in Adelaide this week with the launch of S L O W Fashion Festival - a celebration of ethical and sustainable fashion in collaboration with Adelaide Fashion Festival. Featuring a runway show, panel discussions, a marketplace and a 'Meet The Makers' event, this festival is spearheading the slow fashion movement in Adelaide in an attempt to change the attitudes of consumers, designers and the fashion industry alike.
We caught up with the brains behind S L O W, Emily-lee Sheahan, Anny Duff + Natalie Ivanov for a quick Q&A in the lead-up to tonight's launch.
S L O W // OPENING NIGHT ~ Friday October 6
S L O W Marketplace ~ Friday 6 - Sunday 15 October
S L O W // Presentation ~ Saturday October 7
S L O W Talkers // From Scratch ~ Sunday October 8
Meet The Makers ~ Friday October 13
S L O W Talkers // Worn Through ~ Sunday October 15
What is S L O W? Can you tell us about the project and where it sits within the Adelaide Fashion Festival?
S L O W Fashion Festival is the inaugural project of Anny Duff, of GOOD Studios, Natalie Ivanov of RE-SWIM Club, and sustainable entrepreneur Emily-lee Sheahan. It is a curated collection of quality, ethically sourced and sustainably minded fashion and lifestyle possibilities. Beginning on the 6th of October, at Ensemble Studios on Gilles St, S L O W Fashion Festival will incorporate a wide scope of events, including a marketplace, from the 6th-15th, wherein a collection of labels are participating in the ethos of our festival. We also have a curated runway show, and two moderated discussions and panels, about ethics and sustainability in business and in lifestyles, and also ethics sustainability and fashion in a consumerist society. In a nutshell, S L O W Fashion Festival is an attempt to manifest an attitudinal shift from within the fashion industry, to more conscientious and mindful choices through an engaged and curated way.
S L O W Fashion Festival is officially part of the Adelaide Fashion Festival 2017. S L O W, as an active part of AFF, is an innovative representation of mindful and socially responsible action within Adelaide’s fashion industry. However, unlike AFF, S L O W is independently funded, and we believe, a response to a moral demand from our consumers, stylists and entrepreneurs. We want more from the fashion industry, and the wider society in general, and hopefully S L O W is a fresh alternative for Adelaide.
This is the first year you are presenting S L O W. How did it come about?
Yes, this is the inaugural launch of S L OW. S L OW came about off the back of Swop the Seams, a fashion runway and presentation Emily and Natalie formed as part of Fashion Revolution Week. Aware of Anny Duffs interest and superb background in the sustainable fashion sector, the three of us partnered up to create something bigger and more unforgettable. We wanted this event to shake things up, go against the grain, and make Adelaide stop and think. We were all driven to this concept by our personal desires for wanting more from our retailers, and wanting other viable alternatives as socially responsible consumers. We wanted more conscientious fashion retailers, that weren’t afraid to tell the truth, and try something different. We wanted transparency, and we wanted diversity. We wanted to have a new conversation, and encourage attitudinal shifts to how we viewed style and fashion in today’s society. Essentially, we wanted to create something really special, which was not only weighted in our own personal ethics, morals and ideas, but was aesthetically pleasing, and an event of quality and stature. Amidst tremendous support from other labels, business, volunteers, creatives, entrepreneurs, friends and family, S L O W was able to become a reality.
What has been the response since you launched S L O W?
Humbling. More than anything humbling. To create an idea that you have so truly and purposefully put your heart and soul into, and to have the support, and response from such a wide cadre of people, emphasises how important this issue is, and how much people want be a part of a new conversation. Tickets to our events are selling (CRAZY RIGHT?!?!) as well as huge support and interest from panellists and makers that have wished to come on board. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that you can create a platform like this, and get people excited at the same time. .
What does slow fashion mean to you, and why is now the time to be talking about it in Australia?
Slow Fashion is an attempt to bring sanity, health and awareness back into how we live, do business and consume in our everyday lives. Slow fashion should not be resigned to just clothing, but more of a holistic process, whereby every step you take does help in some way, positive and nurturing. Fast fashion has consumed our lives, yet the clothes we wear are our identity and we should not waste that opportunity. From production cycles to manufacturing to retail, labour exploitation, gender inequality, waste, pollution, and animal cruelty, these are just some the challenges we face everyday in this industry. ‘Why now’ is the excellent point in this question, as we believe that this action has been long overdue for discussion. Australia is making strides in this area, but we can always be doing more in the high-end fashion scene. Collaboration, design, stricter guidelines are always great initiatives.
What's the design community like in Adelaide?
Adelaide has some amazing creatives. The availability of designs, ideas and colours can be really great if you know where to look. Yet Adelaide is still only a very small city, and the fashion and design industry can be very competitive. People are often very closed lipped and do not want to disclose any information on their product sourcing, techniques, tactics or materials. Yet this is in complete contrast to the sustainable fashion industry should be about! To get people excited in a slower mind frame, we should be open, enthusiastic and praise what they are doing, and really want to talk about it! The actions you make within the design community are achievements, and should be celebrated as such!
Have you noticed a difference between the attitudes of consumers in Adelaide towards local slow fashion compared to other areas in Australia or overseas?
Adelaide is a localized economy paradox. On the one hand we have so many small independent local labels, sustainable ideals, and lifestyle options that are positively looked upon. Yet front-line support from the majority, as a smaller city, tends to invest more comfortably in cheaper alternatives, larger outlets and more mainstream options. We all love Adelaide to death, but sometimes, our mindsets just a little too conservative or secular for real independent growth and development. Which means sometimes these initiatives move away, or go online. Whereas in larger cities, such as Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, Japan, people are invested in differentiating themselves from the mainstream glug of mass produced and over compensating retailers, and seek their own validity from values, quality and independence.
What do you think are the biggest challenges in changing our attitudes towards fast fashion in Australia?
Structurally, the fashion industry is not conducive to transparency, and availability of information. I believe we all want to socially responsible in our actions with fashion, but the information isn’t readily available. Additionally, the configuration and exhibition of ethical clothing legitimacy often comes to bare minimum baseline accreditation processes. And while such accreditation is a great first step, for example, Ethical Clothing Australia, whereby brands are helped to navigate only their legal obligations, and reveal mapping their local supply chains and labour legal entitlements, it does nothing for the individual entrepreneur that wishes to go above and beyond such processes. For example, the inclusion of animal rights, wastage, and pollution level scaling. Hopefully this kind of channel will not be conducive to companies taking advantage of the title ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’, but rather, produce real attitudinal responses and behaviours from makers and retailers. An option is to keep and eye on Fashion Revolution, and Good On You, and documentaries like The True Cost for example, who regularly promote stories and insights of the entire companies doings, and not just specific processes.
Lastly, as we have become accustomed to the immediacy of fashion (fast fashion trends) consumers do find it hard to shift this attitude of convenience and availability. Ethical and sustainable fashion and slower lifestyle choices is just that - a bit slower. But we need to accept that, and be OK with asking a few more questions, and looking for alternatives. We should have confidence in our decision making abilities, not be swayed and instructed and told what fashion and style is.
What can local designers and consumers do to commit to slow fashion?
Local designers and consumers can work together. Information should not be kept secret. The more this is concept it shared around, and considered the norm for practice as opposed to a ‘speciality’ the better. Be open with your production and manufacturing process - it can even be utilised as a method for promotion for your label - we as consumers WANT this information. It helps us make the decision to buy a better product, as opposed to a cheaper, lacking-in-quality option. Talk to your local maker or label; see how they get into it. For consumers, you can spend more time with your decision-making. Be confident in wanting more from your retailers. Think about your identity more, and don’t be afraid try new things. You can be the odd one out - all consumers are their own change-makers or activists, and we can work together to individualise the economy back to a more value driven enterprise.
As a designer, what are the benefits of running your label in an ethical / sustainable / 'slow' way?
The connectedness with your patrons, and the satisfaction of knowing how you may have made a difference in someone’s perspective and attitude. Sometimes, just understanding that the impact you are making is ethical and mindful to so many parties can be wholesome enough. Seeing the impact of the industry first hand is what can really make you want to be a part of something better and bigger. Natalie, who works within a cut and sew factory, visually understands the amount of wastage and by-product that is created in such industries. By having your own sustainable label, you yourself can try to utilise the waste that we are all creating. It is often very rewarding to make something brand new and unique out of a waste product. Moreover, the creative freedom you can have with such items means they can become a representation of yourself. There is so much creativity when it comes to slower ways of production and manufacturing, just get you thinking caps on!
What are the biggest challenges you've faced with making your label ethical and sustainable?
Changing people’s opinion of what sustainable fashion is, and making it an aesthetically pleasing product that aligns with morals and principles of a more ethical mind frame. Make it look good; make it something someone wants to wear, and not just a title in itself. Moreover, making people realise that 'sustainable fashion' is just still 'fashion'. The hardest part can actually be trying to educate individuals holistically of what sustainability actually is and means, and why we should all be doing it. We should eventually at a point whereby being sustainable doesn't have to cost more than reasonably priced fashion (not fast fashion), it should instead be the norm.
"Locally Made" - the way of the future or a dying industry?
Ha-ha what drastic opposites! Locally made is definitely part of our future, as is smaller, more localised and specialised products, experiences, and the included methods within it. However, we must face the fact that we do live in a consumerist society, and make steps wherever we can-whether that be second hand, sustainably sourced, or utilising waste materials. Everything helps, and everything is a step in a better direction.