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SLOW Fashion Festival | Meet The Designers

Date: 06 Oct 2017

In a world that seems to be perpetually speeding up, the fashion industry is no exception, operating on a more rapid turnover than ever before. Bucking the trend is the debut of the SLOW Fashion Festival, an event dedicated to reshaping the way people think about sustainability. We spoke to three of the local makers and designers involved about what they’re doing to change the pace.

These days, you’d be forgiven for always feeling one step behind the fashion industry. In a world where chain stores are omnipresent and the existence of 52 “micro-seasons” (one for every week of the year) exposes us to a constant influx of new garments and trends, it’s a wonder anyone can keep up.

But should we even try?

The creatives behind the Slow Fashion Festival – running as part of the Adelaide Fashion Festival program for the first time this year – have different ideas.

This event is a collaboration between a group of Adelaide labels that prioritise mindfulness and sustainability: RE-SWIM Club, Good Studios, Weft Textiles, B.B. Shoemaker, Emma Sadie Thompson and SWOP Clothing Exchange.

Although innovation is often associated with making things bigger, better and faster, there is something refreshingly progressive about intentionally heading in the opposite direction.

Natalie Ivanov, festival co-founder and the brains behind local label RE-SWIM Club, is all for simplifying when it comes to her practice. “I work in a cut and sew factory, every day I see how wasteful the industry is. By creating my brand RE-SWIM Club I am personally trying to lessen my footprint on the world. I have also created processes in the factory to help eliminate waste in other areas.”

She reflects this by only releasing pieces on her label that are made from offcuts and recycled fabrics. Rescuing castoff materials that might otherwise never see the light of day again, Natalie gives waste a new life by purposing it into beautifully made swimwear.

Beccy Bromilow, the owner of independent label B.B. Shoemaker and SLOW participant, operates on a similar ethos. “What I do is such a slow process anyway, making shoes by hand instead of manufacturing. But it allows me to put plenty of thought into where the materials come from, how they were made and the story driving each item. It’s important for me to communicate that to people."

And it’s not just the fashion industry that is becoming more mindful. Samia Fisher of Weft Textiles, a homewares and bedding studio, has always been dedicated to high quality products borne from ethical practices.

Her participation in the event signifies that the shift is a broader one. Elements of sustainability can encompass everything from the way you clothe yourself to how you adorn your home. “The concept of slowness within my practice is about being conscious of what I am creating and how it is being made. I feel that as a designer I have the responsibility to create wears that are embracing renewable resources, using natural fibers and environmentally friendly dyes,” she says.

With more people than ever now aware of the environmental ramifications of fast fashion, SLOW represents a cultural shift amongst makers and consumers alike. But as appealing as they may be, are ethical practices conducive to creativity?

“A lot more time, research and energy is involved when you have the intention to be an ethical label which, in turn, leaves you with a much broader understanding of the industry and the costs involved,” says Samia.

Beccy sees ethical practice as a driving force behind creativity, sparking the process rather than inhibiting it. “When you have ethical considerations, it really narrows your options down. But it’s positive in that you’re always searching for new and better ways of doing things. For me personally, it has made me so much more passionate about what I do.”

A strong sense of community has been important in propelling this movement forward, especially since for the most part the concept of “slow fashion” is yet to catch on in the mainstream.  

“The program has been completely independently run with no funding of any kind. It has only been made possible by the support of brilliant and likeminded Adelaide talent who have generously donated their time,” says Natalie.

“This community has proven to me just what people are willing to do for a subject that is obviously so important to so many. We hope to be back even bigger and better next year”.

 

The SLOW Fashion Festival is running at Ensemble Studios on Gilles Street from 6-15 October 2017. A runway presentation styled by Sharmonie Cockayne will also take place at Chateau Apollo on Saturday 7 October.   

 

Image (banner): Beccy Bromilow of B.B. Shoemaker in her Studio. Photographer Aise Dillon. Images (top to bottom): SLOW Fashion Festival campaign. Photographer Eric Brumfield; Model wearing bikini top by Natalie Ivanov, RE-SWIM Club. Image courtesy the artist; Samia Fisher of Weft Textiles. Image courtesy the artist; Shoes by B.B. Shoemaker. Photographer Aise Dillon.