A sustainable story

A sustainable story
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Every season we hear about what’s “in” and now “so so out”. What was yesterday super fashionable today is no longer part of the wardrobe of the fashion forward. These trends fuel the impulse overconsumption of pieces where the craftsmanship expires just as fast as the hype. Has the love for the timeless piece gone? The piece with a story, made by hand, with love, handed down from grandmother to granddaughter. I know it hasn’t and I am excited at how the love for the story has comeback is in full swing.

What’s behind the label

I am loving the fact that slow fashion has made a resurgence over the last 10 years and the growing voice of the discerning sustainably conscious, bringing back a love for the artisan, the old, the minimal and the fight against wastage. Many designers are reviving the old techniques that produce pieces that are hand stitched, produced to be timeless and durable. Where less of an environmental footprint is part of the production ethos and where collaborating and co-creation only makes the movement stronger.

Living in Melbourne I loved the genuine appreciation for going local. So many people want to know the story behind the brand, why you create what you do, what inspires you and where it is made. There is a huge respect for the effort that goes into making local and also a pride for wearing something ‘Australian made’.

Many of the boutiques that stock Hills & West actively source local to ensure that makers have a platform to connect with other people. Like Esther’s wonderful store in South Melbourne Market, Theo the Label. Esther curates sweatshop-free staples for the everyday wardrobe and makes the effort to know her maker’s stories so she can share them with her customers. Once you start a conversation with Esther you are taken on a journey behind each individual piece and gain a greater understanding of the passion and care that goes into their creation. It is really special.

Fashionably conscious

Slow fashion values are not always meant to be a one-size fits all solution however can encourage creativity and often require more consideration. There is often a greater story, purpose and journey that powers the conscious maker’s journey.

What’s beautiful about crafting the conscious piece is that each is uniquely different, has its own quirks and imperfections. Very different from the mass-produced, throwaway pieces for franchise brands that are made for a moment.

At Hills & West I always try to design for purpose. Where there is a need I start to concept my next design. For example, one day I was wearing my Morgan 3 in 1 Backpack and carrying my grocery shopping in plastic bags. I thought this isn’t right, it was time to design a shopper that could be used everyday. That was the birth of the Hills & West Everyday Shopper (very creative naming I have to say :). I wanted to create a durable shopper I could carry my shopping in and also take with me when I needed excess bags for running around or overnights. After a few prototypes were created and tested, I added reinforcement in the base so it could withstand any load, a closing stud at the top so things did not fall out when rushing about and handles that could be worn different ways to give it some versatility. A bag to withstand my clumsiness and look super stylish when I looked like the ultimate bag lady.

By creating lifestyle accessories for longevity and versatility across different outfits then began a wardrobe review, making me consider the same principals across all my wears.

Striving for the sustainable wardrobe

Over the last few years I have been doing a lot of reading on slow fashion, minimalism and the capsual wardrobe. Reading believers and writers like Joshua and Ryan, The Minimalists, environmental scientist Katie Roberts, Sustainability in StyleAnuschka Rees from The Curated Closet, Wendy Mak, The Capsule Wardrobe: 1001 Outfits from 30 Pieces and fashion and sustainability pioneer Kate Fletcher. They write about sustainability, simplicity and the capsule wardrobe technique each with their own tips to try and onboard.

What I loved discovering was that Susie Faux owner of London boutique called “Wardrobe”, created the capsule wardrobe concept in the 1970’s.  According to her the capsule wardrobe is a collection of the essential and timeless few items of clothing and accessories that do not go out of fashion, ever.

I try to curate my wardrobe with this in mind. Buy only when necessary and ask the questions of where it was created, will it be timeless, versatile and put a smile on my face. Following a formula of less “must have” and more ‘must have beautiful, sustainable and local’ that will last a lifetime. A reduced ‘only wear once’ wardrobe filled with clothes and accessories that make you feel fabulous (and fashionable conscious) everyday. It’s a work in progress but it is definitely in progress.

As my wardrobe decreases, the love for the simplicity of getting ready increases. Each with a story contributing in their own way to someone’s local community or a community who needs it more.

“If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, then this is the best season of your life.”

Wu-Men

This change of mindset was initially challenging as I slowly cleansed and took the direction of quality over quantity. Pieces that are handcrafted with durable high quality materials, that at the end of the day, dressed with your own personal touch and creativity, can make a bit of a difference to your happiness and even more so our environmental footprint.

I believe it’s worth investing and championing the ethical and the sustainable. I will continue to strive to do this with everything I create and buy. May this movement grow and the love for the unique piece with a story, continue.

Thanks Profile Mag for including Hills & West in your piece on Fashion Conscious and encouraging me to put my words down.

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