Leah Musch has landed her dream job. After a year and half stint working with Brisbane eco retailer Biome, and at the tail-end of her fashion degree with Billy Blue College of Design, she opted for a more practical application for her final assessment. She would create and curate a slow fashion department for Biome.
No stranger to sustainable fashion, Musch runs her own slow fashion blog The Unmaterial Girl where she seeks to educate consumers about the issues in the fashion industry and helps to showcase the brands that are doing good. She appeared in commentary about the ABC’s War on Waste program, and has shared her experience as a fashion student and master mender as she chooses to up-cycle or op-shop before ever buying new.
So I think we can all agree she’s cut out for the job – which includes everything from scouting out slow fashion brands, managing stock, marketing the collection, and organising pop ups – with the added challenge of doing it all from scratch and learning through the process.
Here, Musch shares with us the inception of the slow fashion collection, how she decides if brands make the cut or not, and what people can expect to find.
Q. What inspired you to introduce a slow fashion range at Biome?
A. I had been working at Biome for about a year and a half as their visual merchandiser and I really loved how hard they work as a business to promote ethical and sustainable living. This included selling everything from compostable toothbrushes to a naked beauty bar where you can make your own beauty products, but the only thing that was missing was fashion. Being at the final stages of my fashion degree, I decided that instead of creating a final collection, I would work in collaboration with Biome to introduce a Slow Fashion Department.
What will be your part in managing the slow fashion range?
I basically run all aspects of the Slow Fashion department, which ranges from scouting out brands and buying stock, to coming up with marketing campaigns, photoshoots and organising pop up shops. As a sustainable and ethical fashion blogger, this is basically my dream role.
What did you consider when choosing the brands to stock?
We are pretty strict when it comes to the criteria of all of the products we stock here at Biome, as we need to be able to stand behind them 100%. As you may already know, everything at Biome is palm oil free, toxin free and vegan (with exception to our honey and beeswax wraps which are locally sourced.) This meant that our fashion range would also have to be vegan, and exclude any fabrics/materials such as silk, wool and leather. We also require any cotton to be organic cotton, and for the brands to have ethical practices, sustainability and transparency built into the foundations of their businesses.
What brands are you stocking?
We first started out with 8 brands, which has quickly grown to 10. We stock a mixture of established Slow Fashion brands such as New Zealand label Kowtow, and emerging labels such as Nya, who has just launched their first range of Australian sewn and printed garments. I am always on the hunt for diversity in what we offer, so I’m currently seeking out more Menswear, as well as brands that stock more inclusive size ranges.
Where can people shop the range?
The Slow Fashion range is currently exclusively available online, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s physically impossible to fit any more products into our brick and mortar stores (and as the VM, I can assure you this is true). Secondly, although it would be awesome to have a dedicated retail fashion store, it’s still very early days. We did however, host a Pop Up Shop in our Paddington Collective space, which gave customers a chance to try on and buy the clothes in person. I can see us doing more pop ups in the future, so stay tuned so you don’t miss out!
What’s the price range of the clothing?
Pricing has been one of the greatest challenges in creating the Slow Fashion Department, because there really is no such thing as “cheap” slow fashion – and for good reason! I hope to use this as a way of educating people about why something costs more, and why we should be more shocked by a $10 dress than a $150 one. Currently, garments range from $59.95 for an Australian made organic cotton tee (THE MNML), all the way up to $299 for an Australian made and hand screen printed linen jumpsuit (FARN).
In a lot of ways, it still feels like very early days, and there are a lot of hurdles to overcome. My hope is that I can continue to work with Biome to champion emerging and established brands who are pioneers in the slow fashion space, and to continue to educate people about why need to to change the way we are currently creating and consuming fashion.
Biome’s Slow Fashion range is available online now.