There’s been a lot of talk about ethical and sustainable fashion recently. The industry is no stranger to scandal and allegations including of inhumane treatment of workers, contributing to landfill and pollution.
Consumers are demanding more from the fashion world; calling out for brands to develop a set of principles they can abide by. More and more, consumers are increasingly choosing to support ethical designers. Paradoxically, while designer clothing isn’t the cheapest option, it often turns out to be more economical in the long run as designer pieces tend to stand the test of time, keeping their quality and style for years. In the words of Vivienne Westwood, “Buy less, choose well, make it last.”
Luckily Perth has no shortage of ethical brands, so you can support local businesses, and feel good about it. Explore five WA fashion labels working hard to be part of the solution.
In 2016 Stephanie Chandra initiated a collaborative project with traditional local artisans in rural Indonesia. Having grown up in Indonesia, Germany, and Australia, Chandra has always aimed to integrate the three cultures. Her journey to do so led to the creation of the RŪPAHAUS label.
Decidedly a slow fashion brand, RŪPAHAUS is a home for naturally and ethically made products. Working with an intimate team of traditional Indonesian artisans, the brand produces collections for men and women, as well as homewares. Small scale production allows for full control over the product and wellbeing of the workers. Chandra has made it her responsibility to support the artisan’s communities and improve their local economy. In addition to the initial salary set by the workers, 5% of product revenue is reinvested into their communities.
Based at their home studio in Perth, RŪPHAHAUS provides artisans with a platform to exhibit their art and craftmanship with the aim of stimulating growth, social and environmental sustainability awareness, and encourage the preservation of traditional skills for future generations.
“RŪPAHAUS is all about incorporating traditions and heritage into our modern lifestyle, creating a beautiful reminder of where we came from and where we are going.”
Check out their website to peruse their designs.
Established in 1998, Empire Rose is the artistic expression of designer and owner Kathryn Cizeika. The brand has developed a cult following thanks to their glamorous collections and passion for sustainable, locally made fashion. Every piece of Empire Rose clothing is ethically designed, made, and sold in their North Freo studio turned retail store.
Cizeika says she’s always been an advocate for the slow fashion movement because it allows her to listen to clientele and adapt based on their feedback, as well as supporting future fashion stars from WA.
“Dramatic pieces that play with structure, volume and texture exude elegance and sophistication for striking entrances and events, whilst sports-luxe pieces encourage relaxation and ease for daily life and serious downtime.”
Empire Rose is an unwavering presence in the local fashion industry, continually releasing vibrant new lines that the community can enjoy.
Shop Empire Rose or in store at 38 Pearse Street in North Fremantle.
Aptly named, Dyspnea designer pieces take your breath away. The brand is owned and designed by friends Jameen and Rach who met while studying Advanced Fashion and Textiles in Perth. From the beginning, Dyspnea aimed to reduce waste and be as inclusive as possible, featuring enough ruffles and sparkles to please even the biggest of divas.
Each of their garments is made in Indonesia by a small team of Balinese women who specialise in hand beading, a tradition passed down through generations. The Dyspnea team is dedicated to fostering a safe, comfortable, and fulfilling workplace for these ladies who they consider to be part of the label family.
“Working alongside women who are independent and empowered through running their own business has a contagious effect on us. Every day we feel honoured to create magic with them, and we believe that this harmony is reflected in the high quality craftmanship of every Dyspnea piece.”
On their journey to sustainability the label chose to use compostable and re-usable packaging, as well as creating a made-to-order system that minimises fabric waste. Monthly Instagram sales allow Dyspnea to prevent deadstock while making their items more accessible. Ensuring the love and hard work put into each of their pieces continues on, the brand also encourages re-selling through avenues like Depop.
Dyspnea is an incredibly fast-growing label, welcoming everyone to their uniquely dreamy world that’s girly, wild, edgy and soft, all at the same time.
Shop Dyspnea's designs here.
After meeting while studying fashion design in Perth, duo Erin Taylor and Kate Wilks founded the label ILKA. Refined, complimentary, and uncomplicated pieces are the foundation of ILKA, all featuring the common element of wearability. The pair of designers are dedicated to the slow fashion movement, creating a brand that focuses on fair trade production, sustainability and community.
ILKA uses a variety of fabrics through their garments. In an effort to reduce their carbon footprint and support local producers, ILKA uses 100% Australian made cotton. Other fabrics are carefully chosen to create garments that stand the test of time. Purchasing fabric as needed and using a specific system when creating clothing patterns means ILKA produces little to no waste during the cutting process.
With experience in the retail industry and a community of support behind them, ILKA opened a retail space in Mount Hawthorn. They also display 20 other local brands including Clean Slate Skincare, Hickey Designs, and ByHelo Jewellery (find the full list here). They also offer an in-store alteration service so you can purchase a piece that’s tailor-made to fit you.
Shop ILKA by visiting their website or in store at 377 Oxford Street in Mt Hawthorn.
At _BAIS sustainability is the norm. The label was founded by fashion stylist and designer Sylvia Bogdanowski. Aiming to solve the familiar problem of having a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear, _BAIS is designed to fill in the gaps and be the foundation of your wardrobe with a stylish edge.
“We want to be part of the solution not the problem. Sustainability to us means treating people and the planet with care and respect, being careful and considerate of environmental impact and constantly evaluating how we do that.”
All of their garments are designed and constructed with the intention of longevity. Timeless pieces with a wash and wear philosophy are their product, a majority of which has been created with sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, and linen. These fabrics use less pesticides and water in their production process to reduce waste. Further pushing to prevent waste, _BIAS only creates small batches of garments that are designed to suit most body shapes. Earth Packaging compostable bags are used to deliver these sustainable goodies, reducing plastic pollution.
“We want you to sail through life with comfort and confidence in your style, knowing that you have purchased from a brand that is conscious of its impact.”
Shop _BAIS through their website.