Thanks to the ABC’s War on Waste and a whole raft of hard working advocates who have been working in the fashion space (think Clare Press, Emma Watson, Amber Valetta and Livia Firth), ethical and sustainable fashion has reached a tipping point and is beginning to go mainstream.
This not only encourages existing brands to question their operations but also expands the market for the makers and labels who value sustainability and are open about their ethics and supply chain.
One such label is TALOMA, a Melbourne based label specialising in luxe wardrobe essentials. We caught up with Justine, the talented and passionate woman behind Taloma, to find out more about her label, the importance of ethical and sustainable manufacturing and how she would like to see her label grow.
Leiden: The Taloma philosophy centres around using sustainable fabrics, promoting fair work conditions and creating timeless garments that are made to last. What first lead you to consider ethics and sustainability in fashion?
Justine: The label began as a solution to the problem of struggling to find stylish, quality wardrobe essentials. As I began the journey of putting the label together I learned a huge amount of what goes on behind the scenes of the fashion industry which caused me to start asking questions I’d never asked before. I began to understand the disparities between what I assumed was happening and what was actually happening. I quickly resolved myself to develop a business that reflected my values of doing the right thing above all else and thus forging a different path.
L: Tell us a little about your design process and the production cycle of your garments.
J:The design process is very considered. The process starts with our customer front and centre — looking at their lifestyle, how they like to dress, the wearability of the garments they need. From there, finding the very best fabric quality, 100% certified organic yarn and fabric construction as this is a critical component to the longevity of any garment. I then design core shapes into a few different styles which work well alone as well as come together cohesively, with the goal to always offer versatility and longevity. From these core shapes, we start to look at colour and detailing that will elevate the pieces to offer something unique to our customer. Waste is very important in the pattern making phase to ensure we maximize fabric utilization.
Our aim is to work up to a couple of small releases each year and for all our garments to work seamlessly together year on year, for an understated, relaxed look.
L: Your fabrics and garments are manufactured in Australia. How important is it to you to have these processes carried out locally?
J: The TALOMA brand values are really a reflection of my own and so it is incredibly important. Supporting local industry and local jobs as well as the quality control that can be gained by working so closely with your manufacturers is what we are all about. The fabric quality that we have engineered with our Melbourne based knitter, is out of this world! They have 30+ years of experience in the industry and understand their craft intimately. It is amazing to work so closely with them on product development, and I believe it is this working relationship that allows us to deliver such exceptional quality.
L: How do you hope to see the broader fashion industry change with regards to how sustainability and ethical practice is considered?
J: I hope that over time consumers demand more and more information about the process of clothing production and how garments come to be which will in turn mean brands will have no choice but to improve their practices. In some cases, the increase in wage from a minimum wage to a living wage in developing countries has a huge impact on the individual worker who receives it, but it doesn’t translate into a huge chunk of profit for large multinational retailers, or even smaller ones and so that is really great news!
L: How would you like consumers to consider these issues?
J: I think the very first, biggest hurdle is for people to actually spend some time considering the process that goes on behind the scenes to bring their garments to life, or any other product for that matter. Until recently little thought has been given to how things are designed, produced and packed — it is not a natural reflex or thought process to think about these things but that is starting to change. If people considered the full life cycle of the things they buy right through to what happens to it after they are finished with it, the grim reality is quite compelling. If consumers thought in depth about the fact their unwanted goods will likely sit in a hole in the ground for eternity (a hole that is not a bottomless pit) then I think considerations like quality and necessity, or lack thereof, would start to come into play.
Simply turning our attention to these issues leads the way for change as I believe it is inherent in all of us to look out for others and our future on this planet. If people can start to engage with what is sometimes a very dark reality then I think change will follow.
L: How do you hope to see your label expand?
J: We are committed to providing quality wardrobe essentials and so we will continue to focus on our signature organic jersey ranges. We are all about relaxed style so I see us evolving to include collections that fully encompass this lifestyle, while remaining true to our versatile, trans-seasonal ethos. We will move into a greater size breadth too in our future releases.
I would like to partner with, and support boutiques that share our passions for sustainability and ethical practices and work together to drive a shift in consumer behavior to one that is more considered.