Good News: H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection Launch

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H&M have launched their 2016 Conscious Exclusive Collection (which will be available in Australian stores next week!).

Described as a merging of history and modernity, the H&M team have delved into the Musee des Arts Decoratifs collection of archival fashions, to inspire the collection’s key pieces. In fact, the launch coincides with the opening of the museum’s exhibition- 300 Years of Fashion– to which it pays homage.

The fluid and easy styles revolve around languid dresses, kaftans and sculpted skirts- with pieces turning into works of art with pops of colour and surprising print. Botticelli’s ‘Three Graces’ even adorns one of the dresses, as a nod to the link between old and new.

The forever stylish Julia Restoin Roitfeld who is the face of the campaign, said one of her favourite pieces from the range was a mini asymmetric dress which is inspired by a painting of Gustav Moreau.

Importantly, sustainability stays at the heart of the style. H&M Creative Adviser, Ann-Sofie Johansson said, “Working with innovative sustainable materials and ornate embellishment, the collection is a layering of references, shapes and textures topped off by intensely decorative accessories and deco-inspired bijoux.”

The materials used to create the collection include organic silk, hemp, recycled linen and Tencel blends, as well as beads made from recycled glass and ‘Denimite’- a new material made out of worn out denim, which is being used for the first time by the iconic fashion company.

H&M are also dipping into the green wedding trend, with three wedding dresses forming part of the collection for the ‘eco bride to be.’

The H&M 2016 Conscious Exclusive Collection will be available in stores from 7 April, but in the meantime, fashionistas can catch the collection’s ‘Behind the Scenes’ video on YouTube.

Images courtesy of H&M. 

 

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Good News: Indigenous Fashion at VAMFF

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This year’s Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) features one of the strongest Indigenous and cultural programs in its 20 year history.

On Thursday 3 March, the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) Fashion Performance –Birrimbi Dulgu Bajal– showcased the vibrant cultures of North Queensland through dance, song and style.

Eleven designers collaborated to showcase wearable fashion which included felting techniques from Mornington Island, beading, feathers and bright colours to represent the tropics and the Great Barrier Reef and fibres, stencils and hand dyed fabrics, to reflect the northern rainforest environment.

Curated by designer Grace Lillian Lee (perhaps best known for her gorgeous woven accessories), the unique experience featured 20 models from North Queensland and the Torres Strait, who all received modelling and choreography training in the lead up to the event.

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CIAF Artistic Director Janina Harding said, “this performance fulfils the CIAF vision: as a platform for Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to present and promote their distinctive artistic and cultural expression.”

In addition to Birrimbi Dulgu Bajal, VAMFF will also feature the ‘Global Indigenous Runway‘ this Tuesday 8 March, as part of its off site runway series.

The ‘Runway’ is a modern interpretation of Indigenous fashion from around the world, where designers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA and Pacific Nations, will honour ancient cultures and traditions in new and contemporary ways.

Delivered in partnership with Global Indigenous Management, the showcase will exude boldness, personality and of course, fashion flair.

Great to see Indigenous design being celebrated at such an iconic event!

Find out more about the VAMFF Indigenous & cultural program here.

Being Bashful with Teresa Redrup

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Winter has well and truly settled itself into Sydney, bringing with it biting winds and frosty mornings. One of the upsides of the cooler months however, is the stunning selection of styles full of chunky knitwear, lovely layers and diverse textures.

In preparation for the change of season, I like to stock my wardrobe full of colourful cardigans, scarves and tights and as an avid online shopper (the internet is full of bargains!) I am always on the hunt for new stores full of sustainable fashion.

Teresa Redrup is the brains behind Bashful Garter, an online shopping destination that supports local Australian and New Zealand designers. It is fast becoming one of my ‘go to’ sites as it has a unique aesthetic and a strong commitment to quality design, boasting labels like Kowtow, Penny Sage and Romance Was Born (along with a pretty awesome blog!)

Here, Teresa talks about the birth of Bashful Garter and shares her tips on conscious consumption and creating a chic winter wardrobe!

I have been in the fashion, bridal or costume industries my entire working life.

I have also acted in a few roles which saw me having to communicate with a number of offshore manufacturers. In the last few years working in these roles, I came across more and more information about poor working conditions in various places around the world and it made me think about how little I knew about the people I was working with. It also made me realise how hard it is for consumers to get a good idea of what’s going on given they are even further removed from the process. I considered getting out of the industry for a while but I couldn’t imagine what else I would do with myself!

I guess the idea for Bashful Garter stemmed from a desire to work in the field that I knew and loved, but to do so with a clearer conscience and with more control. I wanted my business to be thoughtful and considered as well as beautiful.

I like to think we are creating our own little Bashful Garter feel and aesthetic which is very important to us.

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(photo of Teresa Redrup)

We are guided by the desire to be as responsible as possible, which makes us a little different from many online stores.

We choose to work with local Australian and New Zealand designers that manufacture locally, as the industry here really needs the support. I also feel like I can stand by these products as being well made. We love working with designers who are championing fair trade and organic fabrics and dyes.

It’s also important to me that they manufacture to a certain quality as I want everything we stock to have a decent life-span. I think really highly of all the brands we stock and am pretty pleased to have them in our little shop!

It’s really easy to walk into a mall and find $50 jeans and $15 tshirts at the moment. Sadly, that’s the extent of ‘the story’ shared with the customer.

I think it’s easy to ignore some really poor manufacturing practices when people are so disconnected from the ‘story’ of their clothing.

The garment industry here is not that big and most people today don’t sew at home. That can mean we have less understanding of the process of creating fabrics, dying and printing fabric, creating a pattern, cutting and sewing a garment and that lack of understanding can make it harder to see the value in items of clothing.

I’ve always found so much joy in making things and spending time with other makers. Making is magic to me! It’s a form of meditation and expression. It has been my means of income for years and also my hobby.

I love documentaries about craft and couture and have a shelves full of textile books. To me fashion and textiles was always this really romantic thing. I felt the ‘story’ was great and something that should be shared, not something to be swept under the carpet.

It’s something I am trying to communicate more and more on the website as I feel like it’s a massive part of appreciating things. And I feel that if more people appreciate what they have then fast fashion wouldn’t be the norm.

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There are lots of easy, little ways of being more conscious in how we consume fashion. My biggest tip is to buy the best quality you can afford.

I know everyone has different budgets, but try to think long term and spend a bit extra on things you truly love and will wear regularly. All fashion has some impact on the environment, so make sure that what you do buy is well made so it won’t fall apart easily.

Take care of your things- learn how to darn or find a good alterations place that can do repairs and wash delicate items by hand.

I try to select versatile pieces for the shop that can we worn in different ways in different situations, dressed up or dressed down. I’m not really into dress codes as such. I tend to just wear what I want and put more effort into my hair and make up and sling on some heels if I am attending more of an ‘event’. I don’t like having clothes sitting in my closet waiting for an appropriate occasion. Only buy things you love and wear them.

Merino wool and boucle are big favourites of mine for Winter.

I love the Penny Sage jumpers and big boucle coat. I like the slightly looser shapes for winter so I can layer up underneath. I really like the cold and tend to go to town with layers. My feet need to be warm, my head needs to be warm and my coat has to have pockets!

There is a great material that a few of the designers have used this Winter- a bonded nylon, which is a bit like scuba diving material. I’m loving it as it’s thin and achieves a tailored look. It stands away from the skin but is really insulating. The cold wind doesn’t get through it at all. It’s also really easy to care for, easy to wash and hard to damage.

Lately I’ve been wearing…

The Romance Was Born Mr Bears a-line skirt on high repetition and the Arnley Rivoli dress. It’s the perfect little black dress for Winter as it’s great as a dress with tights and also with nice pants underneath.

And finally, it’s not strictly a style tip, but one winter I couldn’t shake the cold and seemed to be sneezing and coughing for months. A friend recommended I put Vicks VapoRub on the bottom of my feet before putting shoes and socks on. Best advice ever! I do this all the time now and it really does keep my feet warm.

Shop for your winter essentials at the Bashful Garter online store.

Loving the Great Barrier Reef with Liv Metter

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Liv Metter loves the Great Barrier Reef. As a young environmentalist and member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), she is passionate about ensuring Australians truly understand the imminent threats to the Reef’s survival. Although Liv is close to graduating with an arts degree majoring in human rights, she has taken this year off to dedicate herself fully to the fight against climate change.

She, along with a whole host of others, will be giving up life’s little indulgences, to raise money for the AYCC’s new campaign ‘For the Love of the Reef’ which begins on Monday (which also happens to be Liv’s birthday!). Here, Liv talks about her involvement in the climate change movement, her personal fundraising efforts for the Reef (with her team- ‘Charlie and the Fundraising Factory!’) and shares her thoughts on what all Australians should know about one of our most iconic natural wonders.

I have always been concerned about social justice issues, but it wasn’t until I got to university that I began to realise the link between social justice and climate change.

Climate change is an issue that is going to affect everyone but it is already affecting those who are most vulnerable. Understanding that really sparked my motivation to work toward a more just and sustainable future. My passion for this issue has grown steadily, so I have taken a hiatus from study to commit myself to the climate fight with the AYCC. I am still working casual shifts but don’t expect to go back to uni anytime soon. (don’t tell my parents!…)

In 2009, as a high school student, I went to a national summit in Sydney called ‘Powershift’ and was completely blown away.

The summit went for three days and was full of inspirational speakers, educational workshops and even a flashmob at the Opera House. It was here that my mind was opened to the concept of climate change. I came back home with a new found feeling that I can only describe as a mix of fear, hope and inspiration.

I began volunteering with the AYCC and over the years have become more experienced, confident and knowledgeable. I’ve had different leadership roles in the organisation and have been the Schools Coordinator and the Volunteer Support Coordinator.

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Liv speaking at an AYCC event.

I am now one of the Victorian State Coordinators of the AYCC.

I’ve been in this role for about six months and work alongside my best buddy Erica. What I love most about it is the opportunity to oversee what’s happening in a whole state, working closely with the national staff team and Victorian volunteers. I now get to oversee a whole variety of groups that I once volunteered in- to make sure that everyone is happy, confident and carrying out the campaign effectively.

The role involves a lot of strategic thinking, planning, training volunteers, facilitating meetings and coordinating actions and events. I have gained so many skills I would not have learnt anywhere else and I am so grateful to the AYCC for the experience. I hope that I’ve been able to give back to the Victorian volunteers and to the climate change movement more broadly.

Young people have an incredibly strong voice in the climate change fight and AYCC is a place for that voice to be heard.

We are creative, dynamic and passionate. Whilst we are fighting for those who are already affected by climate change, we also recognise that our future and that of our children, will be in jeopardy if we don’t change our ways. We can also tap into new forms of communication and can sometimes be a little bit cheeky when confronting power holders. We have the time and creativity to get things done in new and positive ways.

I’m about to give up coffee, beer and chocolate for the ‘For the Love of the Reef’ campaign.

The campaign is a fundraising challenge where we ask people to give up something they love between May 18-31, to raise money for and awareness of the Reef. We believe stopping the construction of the world’s largest coal port right near the Reef is critical. We are up against some pretty powerful organisations so our campaign needs a little extra funding to make a difference.

All the money raised will go to supplying resources and training volunteers on the ground to help roll out the campaign. The AYCC is a deductible gift recipient charity so all donations over $2 are tax deductible!

The things I’d like people to know about the Great Barrier Reef are that…

It is currently under threat from coal port expansion.

The Reef is already sick from ocean acidification and a changing climate. If plans to expand coal ports go ahead, it could be catastrophic. A major part of this is because of dredging. Dredging involves digging up the sea floor in shallow waters, so that ships can travel through. The process unfortunately stirs the ocean floor, allowing sediment to rise and cloud the water. The cloudy water limits the amount of sunshine coming through which means that coral can’t photosynthesise and the Reef begins to deteriorate. Dredging would be a necessary part of this coal port expansion and the estimated ship traffic would be around 7000 ships a year.

There’s a serious reason why we are asking people to give up coffee, chocolate and beer.

Food security is a major issue related to climate change. It will have devastating effects on agricultural communities around the world. Climate change is already having an impact on the things we love- like coffee beans and cocoa. That’s why we’re saying to people- ‘if you love the Reef, then join us and go without something you love, that will be affected by climate change.’

We need to stop investments coming from Australian banks.

If you are with one of the major four banks in Australia or one of their subsidiary branches, there is a link to Reef destruction. None of these Australian banks have ruled out funding the risky coal port project. This is shameful. Not only is the Reef a national icon, it is also home to thousands of species of marine life and provides 60,000 jobs in the tourism industry. We have seen eleven major international banks rule out funding this project and we are now calling on Australian banks to follow suit. That’s why we’re also running the ‘Dump My Bank’ campaign that calls on Australian banks to simply back away from this project.

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You can find out more about the ‘For the Love of the Reef’ campaign, make a donation and sponsor a participant on their website.

‘EnviroTrending’ with Janina Byrne

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A few years ago, Queensland entrepreneur Janina Byrne decided to combine her environmental conscience with her love of practical items to create EnviroTrend. The innovative company offers a range of backpacks, bags and other carry items that aim to bring a more stylish edge to the standard ‘eco green bag.’ Now that summer has well and truly arrived, EnviroTrend have released their new Pack & Go Collection featuring five lightweight (and lovely looking!) bags. I recently caught up with Janina to chat about the launch!

Can you tell us a bit about the new range and what inspired it?

Our new Pack & Go Collection was inspired by our busy lifestyles and designed to have multiple uses.

* SAKitToMe and EnviroChill Maxi are perfect for groceries as well as weekend leisure, such as picnics.
* EnviroChill Mini can be a lunchbox or used to take a 6-pack to a party.
* PAKitToMe Backpacks and FoldAway Travellers can be your ‘around the world’ travel companion, daily gym buddy or sleepover bag. Whatever you use them for, they fold away to almost nothing and don’t clutter your home.

The colours and prints were inspired by spring and summer. The Apple Blossom print is just about as girly and pretty as you can get. The stripes collection, while not specifically aimed at men, didn’t offend the blokes we surveyed who said they’d be happy to carry it for their female counterparts. Both are also easy to spot amongst drab luggage colours on an airport luggage belt!

Can you talk us through how your products are made and what makes them environmentally friendly?

Our products are made from high quality fabrics and workmanship and while they are inexpensive, they are designed to last. Our SAKitToMe bags are specifically aimed at replacing supermarket plastic bags. The fabrics are made using a portion of recycled material and because they are so strong they will last a long time and replace many plastic bags over their lifespan. Not all of our products are purely environmentally friendly –we have a two pronged name – ‘Enviro’ refers to the eco side of our business and ‘Trend’ refers to the groovy, compact and travel products in our range.

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EnviroTrend has been around for a couple of years now. What first sparked the idea?

We first saw a gap in the market around 2006. So many people were using the awful green supermarket bags for so many things other than the groceries. In fact, we did ourselves and from that we came up with the EnviroShopper- a more attractive version of the utilitarian supermarket version. From there we developed the range and branched out into compact products and travel products. We love anything that’s practical and makes our busy lives easier and less cluttered.

What are your favourite products and why?

At the moment, the FoldAway Traveller is my absolute favourite – it has saved me a couple of times recently. Especially with excess stuff that didn’t fit into my carry-on bag which I was able to check in.

Lastly, what are your top 3 tips for people wanting to live a greener, cleaner life?

* Always have a compact bag (preferably our SAKitToMe!) in your handbag, car or attached to your keys so you don’t need to use the plastic bag offered by any shops, not just supermarkets.
* Think about whether you need the bread, eggs and milk you’ve just popped in to buy in a plastic bag. Surely you can carry them to the car and into the house without a bag!
* Recycle and compost. It’s so easy these days!

Shop the full Pack & Range on the EnviroTrend website.

Blogging about Sustainability with Nicky Felton

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One of the reasons I started this blog was to connect with like minded people who are passionate about big ideas for social good. So, when NZ based blogger Nicky Felton emailed me a few weeks ago, I immediately wanted to share her story. Nicky is 21 years old, has a keen interest in sustainability and fashion and describes herself as an ‘ideas person’. With a sparkly and adventurous blog called Little Felton, Nicky is busy documenting her adventures, searching for a more sustainable lifestyle and planning her next career move. Here is Nicky’s story in her own words…

I’ve just finished my Communications Degree and am now looking at what to do with my life!…

I love the idea of sustainability on all levels and as the years tick by, I’m starting to become more conscious of how I can involve it into aspects of my life. I’m starting to feel more responsibility and recognising the ability I have to make choices or do things that can have a widely positive impact on the world. That’s an exciting thought! With a background in business and a keen entrepreneurial flair, I’m looking into ways we can easily incorporate sustainability into our lives. I’m excited that there’s so much emerging interest out there and that young people are starting to create a bit of a movement.

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Although I haven’t worked out exactly what I want to do, I’m starting out by profiling businesses, brands and people, who incorporate sustainability into what they do…

Simply bringing sustainability to the attention of others, will go a long way to improving the culture around this topic.

In the long term I hope to create a business based around social good, working with isolated communities to create handmade goods which are marketable and saleable. I’d love to use my skills to help others.

Through my blog Little Felton, I’m creating opportunities for myself and gaining experience, which are both great things…

So far, Little Felton is a collection of all the things that I love, things I’d like to do and general life thoughts and musings. It’s actually a great way of identifying my areas of interest and a fantastic exercise in personal development.

Behavioural change is so much more achievable and measurable on social media- just think of the ‘ice bucket’ challenge that has taken off this year. People like to be seen to be doing good things on Facebook and it’s so easy to type up a status or share a post, which can go a long way to creating awareness of a cause or creating hype or even fundraising.

My personal style would be a’young professional’ look that is fresh and fun…

I generally try to buy a few quality statement pieces which I’ll pair up with relatively neutral, inexpensive basics to create my outfits.

I love mixing a piece with bold colours or pairing prints with plain white or navy; I love navy!

I’m a big fan of wearing tops and pants rather than dresses for everyday wear, simply for practical reasons- oh and I love jumpsuits!

Keep up to date with Nicky on her blog Little Felton.