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MBFWA 2015: Clean Cut Talk Sustainability in Australian Fashion

Ahead of their panel discussion at MBFWA 2015, next Tuesday.
By Courtney Sanders, 07 Apr 2015
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MBFWA 2015: Clean Cut Talk Sustainability in Australian Fashion

L-R: Kowtow winter 2015, Cue winter 2015

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It started with food: a slow but sure awakening of our collective conscious to the fact that what we put into our bodies is very important, and we should therefore probably know what's in it, and where it comes from. We've now started to realise that it's also important to know about what we wear, you know, those things we put next to our skin every day.

But the fashion industry is vast. So many resources and people are involved in the creation of all of the pieces that make up one item of clothing, it's really difficult to unpack what clothing is and what clothing isn't sustainable.

Enter Clean Cut (like them on Facebook too), an organisation who are committed to raising awareness about ethical and sustainable fashion initiatives and the clothing companies behind them.

Clean Cut are hosting a panel discussion at MBFWA next week called Future Talks, where representatives from Cue Clothing, Kowtow, Nobody Denim, and Kit Willow will discuss the future of sustainability in fashion. To attend, simply subscribe to Clean Cut's newsletter over on their website.

Here Kelly Elkin, co-founder of Clean Cut, discusses what the MBFWA Future Talk is all about, and who are leading the charge into sustainability, both here and internationally.

What is Clean Cut exactly?

Clean Cut is an industry organisation connecting Australia to the global sustainable fashion movement. We encourage the local industry to make sustainable and ethical choices in their supply chains and support the pioneers of our industry already doing so. We connect the dots!

Why did you decide to start Clean Cut?

Clean Cut was founded by four sustainable fashion advocates. After experience both overseas and in Australia we saw the need to build community, support and awareness surrounding honest and good fashion. Australia was lagging behind and those that were pioneering the movement here weren't getting the support and awareness deserved.

How did you become involved with MBFWA?

We officially launched Clean Cut at last years MBFWA. Since day one our main aim was to de-stigmatise ethics and prove there's no need to compromise your style, brand or business. By partnering with MBFWA we can make sustainable accessible to the mainstream industry by giving practical examples.

You're hosting a panel discussion about sustainability in fashion at this year's MBFWA. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

The focus of this year's panel is the future. As this is the 20th anniversary of fashion week here in Sydney we thought it was appropriate to reflect, but look to the future. How can we change the current fashion landscape into one that positively effects our industry, those that produce our clothes and minimize the effects on the planet? How can we ensue the future is bright?

You have four guest speakers: Kit Willow, Cue Clothing Co., Nobody Denim and Kowtow. Why did you choose these four speakers and what do you think they're each bringing to the industry?

We wanted to show examples of brands of all shapes and sizes approaching sustainability and ethics in a different way. Each label has a unique take on integrating a responsible supply chain into their business, whether that's through local production, ECA accreditation, working with artisans or new technological advances there is not just one way. We also wanted to show brands at all different spectrums – showing that every bit counts, making realistic steps for long term positive change is important.

Why do you think it's important for industry events like MBFWA to discuss sustainability and ethics in fashion?

We as a society have progressed, our industry has evolved, yet we are still stuck in a rather archaic supply chain model. It's integral to the future success of our fashion industry that we embrace innovation and new ways of doing business that goes beyond pure profit. MBFWA support innovation and are working with us to bring sustainability to the table.

How do you think Australian designers perform with regards to ethics and sustainability? Are we better than the global average? Worse? Is it even possible to make this comparison?

It's hard to define, however Europe and USA have both experienced a huge wave of progress over the past decade, slowly but surely Australia is embracing change. There has always been a healthy underground movement here, however the past two years we have seen a shift in the mainstream, big businesses are getting excited about organics, transparency and fair and social practices.

Can you pull out a few local companies who are doing really great things around ethics and sustainability in fashion?

Designers like Kuwaii, A part of me and Vege Threads embrace local production, Yevu and X support communities in Africa and India.

Bigger brands taking steps or featuring organic items include Bassike, Gorman, and ECA accredited brands include Ginger and Smart, Bianca Spender and Scanlan and Theodore.

And what about international examples?

Suzanne Rae definitely one to watch! Honest By are revolutionizing transparency, Organic by John Patrick gives a sleek look for sustainabilty, Stella Jean supports her native Haiti, Kowtow has been killing it in the international scene being 100% organic and fair trade certified for forever!

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Liked this? Read these articles about the fashion industry:

1) Why Are We So Obsessed With Physical Fast Fashion?

2) I'm Sick of People Thinking the Fashion Industry is Stupid

3) Stella McCartney is an Ethical Fashion Success Story, Says BOF

4) Unpacking Pre-Collections, Via Chanel's Metier D'Arts Show

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