Where do your clothes come from?

Our decisions can have an amazingly positive impact on our world when we inform ourselves. We get to choose where our money goes, and which businesses receive our love and support. There are so many wonderful textile options out there if you but take the chance to look past the big box.

Its so important for us to understand where our textiles come from. We try hard to source products that are both environmentally and socially ethical. We have worked hard to connect with the makers of the textiles we use for Sew Knit Love. I love the process of being involved at each step and we have developed many beautiful friendships because of it.

One friendship which is close to our hearts, is that we have with White Gum Wool and August Bird. Nan (White Gum Wool) ethically farms her sheep on her property in the Tasmanian midlands and Bec (August Bird) hand dyes this yarn in Adelaide Hills, South Australia. They are amazing women who are trying to do the right thing and producing the most beautiful yarn. I feel so lucky to have been able to design and make from their beautiful products. Its experiences like these that have made me really appreciate what is behind a garment, from the sourcing of raw products through to the end product.

We can turn Augustbird-dyed and White Gum Wool-grown boucle yarn into…
Garter stitch shawl Simple garter stitch shawl Simple triangle scarf Garter stitch shawl pattern Simple triangle shawl pattern Garter knit shawl Knit shawl pattern bulky yarn Easy garter stitch shawl Triangle knitted scarf pattern Triangle knit shawl Triangle knit shawl bottom up
Gorgeous shawls!

But not all my clothes in my wardrobe are made by myself, by people I know or from happy fabrics. Whilst I don’t take part in fast fashion, I do have clothes that I don’t know where they were made or who made them. Embarrassed by this, I started doing more research into the garment industry and gosh was surprised by what I learnt!

Are your clothes dirty?

Did you know that, the garment industry is the second largest polluter after the oil industry? A whopping 75 million people work in the fashion industry (80% of them are women).

Worldwide consumption of textiles is about 73 million tonnes annually and growing (White Paper Revolution). Australia is the second biggest consumer of textiles buying on average a 27 kg per person a year (Textile Beat).  Australians discard 6000kg of clothing and textiles every 10 minutes to landfill (War on Waste). Two thirds of those discarded are made from synthetic fibres which may never breakdown!

This is just the tip of the ice berg, there is horrible human rights abuse and terrible environmental impacts as an outcome.

I’m not sure why these facts initially surprised me, considering everyone wears clothes! However, its definitely made me take stock and have a serious think about my role as a consumer and designer.

But where to start?

Its pretty easy to become overwhelmed, particularly when its so hard to buy ethical. For me the key thing I have learnt is to slow down and really consider my purchases, buy less, buy better and invest in those that care.

Thanks to movements like Fashion Revolution, we are being encouraged to be curious about OUR clothes.  They urge us to start turning our clothing inside out and looking at YOUR label. This will tell you in which country your clothes were made and what it is made from.

But it wont tell you the who, when and how it was made.

By being interested in the answers to questions like these WE are taking the first step towards making brands accountable (#whomademyclothes). And in turn,  WE are helping change the story for the people who make our clothes and reducing the environmental impact.

So now when it comes to making your next purchase ask yourself, do I really need it? Can I make it? Can I buy it second hand?  When buying new,  try to buy local or Australian and do a little research. This doesn’t have to be hard and there are some fab resources out there (Ethical Clothing Australia and the app Good On You) to help you.

Yes its still hard to buy ethical but if we all ask these simple questions we are making the first step to change! Ultimately is comes down to us the consumer for the industry to change.

About Suki

I’m a mum to Evie and Arlo and furkid Gatsby, and partner to the lovely Stephen. I love to sew for my little people, my and close friends and family because of that warm cuddly feeling you get when someone you love falls in love with something you’ve made especially for them. Such a beautiful exchange! Doesn’t matter if it is as small as a brooch or small toy; that love is still the same. I love the process of designing new patterns, this normally begins with a piece of fabric or skein of yarn which informs the pattern design. Simplicity and quality are integral to my design philosophy.