Melbourne-based designer Courtney Holm has taken on the colossal challenge of making clothing in a closed-loop fashion.
Since launching her label A.BCH in 2017, she’s refined the supply chain and processes of her business and made transparency the label’s main focus.
With so much secrecy in the world of fashion, Holm says with A.BCH they “err on the side of TMI”, offering full disclosure as to how each of their pieces came to be.
“Every thread, every fibre, every button is accounted for, because we have nothing to hide,” Holm says.
“And we don’t just talk about ethics and sustainability, we live and breathe them. Our clothes are made in Melbourne from renewable, organic and recycled materials.
“From our buttons crafted from the seeds of fallen corozo fruit in Panama, to our family-owned and Ethical Clothing Australia-certified manufacturer in Melbourne’s inner north – we aim for our production to be as sustainable as possible.”
A.BCH promotes a clean lineup of materials on its website, while also educating on why other fabrics aren’t chosen for their garments. GOTS-certified organic cotton and linen make the cut, as do Lenzing’s Tencel, hemp and recycled PET.
The brand also plans to use silk in some of its garments that, of course, will be ethically sourced.
“Ninety per cent of the world’s silk production is obtained by gassing or boiling the silkworm alive in order to obtain its cocoon, which ensures an unbroken silk fibre,” Holm says.
“We’re not massive fans of that idea.”
The alternative is called Peace Silk, which is created by allowing the silk worm to exit the cocoon before the silk is harvested.
A.BCH’s commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop at the shop, instead they aim to help and educate shoppers on the way they buy, wear and dispose of their garments too.
“The user phase (the wearing part) is often forgotten about, and so are seldom-worn garments left hanging in the wardrobe,” Holm says.
“That is why when you buy any A.BCH piece, we will send you a digital care manual to help you keep it fresh and fabulous for a really long time.
“When it comes to inevitable wear and tear, we offer real-life workshops to pass on the skills of old-school mending. If the DIY approach isn’t your thing, we also offer free repairs for life on any A.BCH garment.”
A.BCH also takes back garments through its recycling program, which may give the garment a second life, help it become a new piece altogether, or allow it to be recycled to become new fibre.
Although, Holm says every piece is totally compostable at home, as long as you cut off the A.BCH logo tag before doing so.
On price, Holm says their clothes are affordable because they don’t mark them up to traditional retail price.
“We’d never want to price people out of making a difference,” she says.
The garments themselves are sustainable by design in that they’re made to be worn and not conform to the styles of the season.
Holm opts for basics in shape and colour, keeping the collection to white, grey and black bar the odd scarf or minimal print that pairs perfectly with the staples.
A quick squiz at the product “code” on any of the A.BCH garments on the website might suggest the brand’s just about nailed their mission of sustainability and transparency. However, Holm says this is just the beginning.
“We work tirelessly to ensure that every step of the journey is as thoughtful and sustainable as possible,” she says.
“But our search for ways to improve is just as tireless.”