How to become an Aussie eco-fashion designer

Excuses, excuses, excuses! Do you dream of becoming an eco-fashion designer, but you don’t know where to start? We get advice from key players in the Australian eco-fashion arena on how to address the daily excuses that prevent the dream from becoming reality!

models wearing eco fashion outfits

Eco fashion how-to

For all the burgeoning fashion designers out there, Christina Lew of Green Eyed Monster and Rachael Cassar of Rachael Cassar give some advice on how to become an eco-fashion designer. They address the excuses we make that prevent us from reaching our full potential… You know, the excuses that usually start with ‘but…’ and end with self-pity and a loss of ambition?

“BUT… I don’t know enough about the industry”

Answer: Neither do most people!

Worry not. The ethical fashion industry is itself new and still growing at an alarming rate. This is partly because of green celebrities who spread awareness on environmental issues.

According to Christina Lew [one half of Green Eyed Monster], the industry is definitely on the upswing. “Five years ago, there may have been only a handful of eco-fashion designers in Australia but now there are a number of designers and retailers who specialise in eco-fashion,” she says. Although it is more established overseas, ethical fashion is gaining more coverage in Australia right now. One example is the inclusion of ethical clothing in this year’s Melbourne L’Oreal Fashion Week 2010.

In spite of this, Rachael Cassar makes a valid point in saying that although “eco has fought for a place in the fashion industry… in terms of eco really moving forward as a leading accessible choice in our industry… this is yet to happen [because] it is still singled out as just ‘eco’ and not really fashion.”

Evidence of this can be seen in the way that “eco brands are not put on an even playing field with non-eco designers”, she says, which prevents it “from truly being part of the fashion industry like any other brand would.”

In other words, eco-fashion is still facing an uphill struggle. You need to ask yourself if you can be excited about being a part of this developing underdog-esque subculture that falls under the massive umbrella that is the fashion industry.

“BUT… I’m not sure I should do it”

Answer: Follow your passion!

First of all, are you a designer by nature? “Designing has to come from within,” Cassar says. “I really don’t think anyone who doesn’t have a natural ability to create can just do a fashion design course and come out the other end as a designer.”

Instead, “you have to have an inherent relationship with shape, form, texture and colour”, which may need formal training. Cassar went to university to learn how to pull all of these elements together and “create a successful cohesive story”.

Be inspired by your love for the environment, let it inspire you, and believe in your cause. Without an authentic passion for what you’re doing, your label will lose credibility.

For some, like Cassar, it’s ingrained. “The process of recycling and re-using has always been a passion and an intrinsic part of me. After studying and learning more about our global environmental issues, I could not help but feel responsible and obligated to use my ability to re-use and up-cycle to create an alternative fashion solution.”

For others, like the designers behind Green Eyed Monster, a little push was needed later on in life. Christina Lew says that the environmental conscientiousness of her and her business partner, Anne Ryan, increased “after becoming mothers” because “you think a lot more about the future you are creating once you have children”.

Next: Where to start>>


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