Stepping outside the forest

It’s been a little while since I wrote about the label. That’s in part because, while a lot has happened, I’ve experienced a bit of a setback.

Recently the designer that has been working on the project became unavailable due to other work commitments. While we’ve made significant progress on the designs, there is still a lot to do – selecting fabrics and finalising the patterns among them.

My initial response was one of disappointment. This possibly (probably?) means that I won’t have a range ready for the Summer 09/10 selling season in February.

Although it’s a fair way away, the combination of this being the label’s first collection, ethical manufacturing lead times, and just generally the fact that I’m not on the project full time, mean that the delay in finding and engaging a new designer, and pattern maker (as the pattern maker was of close relation to Susan) means that we just won’t be ready in time.

However, after that initial sense of disappointment, I’ve come to realise that perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise.

In stepping back, outside the forest as it were, and re-assessing things I’ve realised that, in my rush to meet a deadline, I’ve lost sight of some of the initial vision that I had for the business.

I was, to an extent, falling into the trap of doing things because “it’s the way it’s done” rather than being true to my original vision for the label. I was also trying, I think, to force some things, rather than letting them unfold in a more authentic and organic way.

So I’ve decided to “ship when it’s ready” rather than trying to meet some arbitrary deadline. Of course, I’ll still need to take into consideration the realities of selling into a wholesale market, but I want to do things differently, and I’ll need to learn to be patient (not one of my strong points, I must admit) and let it unfold, rather than pushing things through for the sake of it.

Anyways… I’m currently working on doing a merchandising project for Mars Hill Cafe, and I’m catching up with Timo Rissanen, a PhD candidate at UTS who’s sustainable menswear exhibition “Bad Dogs” I caught last week, to see if there’s some way we might be able to work together.

So, in other words, keeping busy and keeping moving things along 🙂

Fashion Exposed

Last weekend I went to the Fashion Exposed exhibition at Darling Harbour. The last time I attended the event was in Melbourne 4 years ago. If nothing else, this year’s event was a firm indicator of how little has changed.

Granted, there were a few booths with organic cotton, hemp or bamboo offerings. Bamboo Body were there, along with Eco Wear and Pure Pod – but there were probably less than a dozen offerings in the full exhibition center area, and of those only one had menswear (tshirts).

The organisers claimed that there was an “eco-fashion” precinct – but this turned out to be 6 stalls, one of which was linen, and the other was Drizabone – included because they use Australian sheep which is a “natural fibre” (supposedly we’re meant to overlook the immense damage sheep grazing causes on the environment.)

I spoke to a couple of merchandising and shop-fitout suppliers at the show, and it seems that they haven’t yet received word that “green is the new black”. Not one could answer even the most basic questions about eco-friendly shop fittings – they had none. One at least made an attempt, claiming their mannequins were recyclable, but I’ve yet to find evidence to back up that claim.

There were two paper bag companies I spoke to – one responded to my question about recycled bags with “you’d want to look at our natural finished product”. When I asked about the recycled content of the bags, he acknowledged there was none!

Paper Pak, on the other hand, seemed to have a good range of blended recycled material with sustainably managed virgin pulp – and the sales rep didn’t try to bullshit me. He explained that they used water based inks, improving the enviro credentials, but that the adhesives were problematic from a biodegradability standpoint. Still more research to go, but a good start at least on that front.

Overall it was worth the visit to review – but not overly inspiring. I’m currently also reading Eco Chic which serves as a stark reminder as to why I got into this game in the first place. But more on the broken-ness of the system in another post…