Globally, we’re producing more than 100 billion garments every year. That’s a precedent the fashion industry set in 2014, and high street fashion houses show no signs of slowing down.
But despite the volume available when it comes to filling our closets, we’re left with a surprising lack of variety and individuality in the clothing we consume (not to mention the mountainous 6000kg of clothing sent to landfill every 10 minutes in Australia alone).
It’s this feeling that’s sparked a movement of Australian designers to create unique and bespoke pieces that restores individuality and expression in the way we dress. Across the country, designers are turning to textiles with a story, and creating custom clothing that restores individuality. In addition, these brands are tackling the fashion industry’s waste problem by upcycling vintage and deadstock fabrics, and producing quality clothing with care. It’s a subsection of the slow fashion movement we can all get behind.
No mass production here, friends. Spunky Bruiser sports unique Australian fashion, tailored to individual requirements. Their small team hand-makes everything ethically in New South Wales from sustainable, upcycled materials sourced within Australia. Keeping it all made to order also means they’re able to significantly lower the waste they produce. Spunky Bruiser says it designs to your style and in timeless, comfortable cuts further minimising the brand’s environmental impact. The result is some epic ’90s-inspired upcycled fashion that’s anything but fast.
Seasoned designer Alice Veivers is injecting a little bit of history into her label’s garments. Opting for quality vintage fabrics, her clothes are more short stories than they are another addition to one’s wardrobe. For her feminine pieces, Veivers focuses on reclaiming and reusing as many secondhand and vintage fabrics as possible. She also uses factory excess and deadstock fabrics for her garments, which are all ethically made in Brisbane by the designer herself.
Brisbane-based slow fashion advocate and designer Naomi Huntsman makes unique women’s fashion from deadstock and upcycled fabrics. Her self-confessed colour and print obsession forms the style of garments she likes to create, which are all made slowly in her home studio. Huntsman’s garments are a range of smock dresses, tops and matching sets, in bright colours and classic cuts.
Sarah Hutson of SFH Designs says her garments are “a global take on vintage and traditional fashions”. She’s a lover of wearable art, importing and making hand-embroidered Mexican dresses, one-of-a-kind beaded collars and upcycled vintage Afghan wedding dresses with recycled denim. SFH Designs is particularly popular for it embellished denim jackets that feature upcycled denim, hand-embellished by Hutson at the SFH Designs boutique in Brisbane.
Azul is the first Australian brand to specialise in vintage denim jackets for weddings and makes them available for hire as well (for bride only, couples or entire bridal parties). The jackets are all second hand, hand picked and sourced especially for you. Each piece is decorated with custom lettering, ironed and hand stitched with embellishments to suit your needs.
Coy Street Clothing’s very wearable nostalgic shapes are made with self-expression in mind. The mix is sweet sentiment and contemporary edge, with each garment handmade from a charming combination of vintage remnants, recycled textiles and handpainted fabrics. Designer Libby Frederickson is self-taught and works in her home studio here in Brisbane, designing and making original pieces of slow fashion. Her small batch collections always start with an interesting vintage find, such as the recent Summer Club, and develop into a beguiling story of colours, patterns and prints. There is an exciting emergence of Brisbane fashion labels which are putting creativity front and centre, and showing an inherent commitment to low-waste production models.
PapaDrew produces ’70s-inspired button-up shirts in West End, Brisbane. The designer and maker behind the brand is Andrew Carpenter, who started off as a cutter in a clothing factory when he was 18 and says he still uses a pair of 150-year-old Heinisch tailor’s shears. His original PapaDrew short sleeve shirts are made from reclaimed vintage and salvaged fabrics (found by Andrew), so no two shirts are the same.
For Whadjuk Ballardong Nyungar woman Bec Barlow, a fashion label was the perfect amalgamation of her family, culture and hobbies (which include upcycling, fashion and travel), as well as the opportunity to give back to a cause close to her heart – increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwives. With her label Deadly Denim, Barlow seeks out vintage and secondhand denim and fabrics to turn into unique and custom creations. The designer has partnered with Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund, which works to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to qualify as midwives and remain in the profession.