A commitment to sustainable fashion can mean anything from ethical, onshore production, to choosing environmentally friendly materials, to making postage bags out of recycled books. For Melbourne’s Shy Hero, it’s all of these things.

Founded by friends Karina Newnham, Hilary Green and Amy Masterson in early 2017, the brand is centred on minimising its impact on people and the planet, with a special interest in catering for curvy bodies and celebrating diversity.

“We were each inspired by fashion in different ways,” Hilary tells me.

“I have a particular interest in wearable art through textile design. Amy has studied fashion design and loves bold, statement pieces. And Karina loves classic designs and environmentally friendly fabrics.”

Between the three of them, they decided they wanted to create a fashion label that was as ethical as possible. They also wanted an avenue to cater for curvy bodies and celebrate diversity in women through their imagery and designs.

Their label, Shy Hero, was born after deciding they would be strongly aware of the women who wear their clothes – women who make small but important, ethical decisions about their purchases.
Shy Hero models in dresses

A crafty collab

Like lots of budding designers, the Shy Hero founders kick started their label by making all orders by hand in their home studio spaces, often cutting their designs on the kitchen table.

“Karina and Amy both have industrial machines and are very particular about quality. But this year we have been able to move to a new model of operation where we can also support one of our favourite ethical businesses – The Social Studio,” Hilary says.

“It is an NFP organisation that trains refugees in fashion manufacturing in Melbourne, and provides ongoing education and employment.”

Hilary says that with The Social Studio on board, the Shy Hero team will be able to free up time for designing their future collections.

When it comes to textiles, Shy Hero has opted for a mixture of high quality linen, with some wool thrown in for winter wardrobe pieces.

They say that linen was an easy choice as it’s less harsh on the environment (than cotton) – using less water and resulting in a stronger, durable fabric.

Their garments are digitally printed in Melbourne using water-based inks.
Shy Hero Model on steps

Waste warriors

Like a lot of eco conscious labels, the Shy Hero team plan their pieces and designs to make sure there’s as little textile waste as possible. But where there is, there’s an opportunity to upcycle.

The designers have branched into scrunchies as a means to make use of the fabric off cuts and all of their linen scraps are sent to a textile artist who weaves the fabrics into new materials.

To avoid plastic packaging for posting online orders, Shy Hero takes recycled books and handcraft the satchels themselves.

The colourful and attractive designs put out by the label have already attracted attention from around the country, and Hilary says they hope to continue growing, and for Shy Hero to be accessible to any age and eventually any size.

“As our designs are both playful and classic, we think they are perfect for women who are wanting strong staples with adjustable features or a bold favourite outfit to keep forever.”

Shy Hero is currently available in sizes 6-20.

Shy Hero Model

Shy Hero is a finalist in the Frankie Good Stuff Awards for 2019. They would love for you to vote for them, which you can do here

Find out more and shop Shy Hero here