From your personal experience, what are the hardest aspects of running your business with sustainability in the forefront Vs profit?
The cost of fabric is higher; brand representation and presence in commercial media limited; and access to educating the customer on the product is minimal. To counteract these aspects time and money can be spent to promote your business and consumer more, but its not always reflected in sales and or presence, so at present being sustainable is purely a personal motivation and basic standard, but I believe it informs my designs and practice, which makes SZN unique from other labels.
Which manufacturing practices do you see as the biggest environmental threats, and which do you try to avoid?
Mass production, especially for products that are not guaranteed purchases or their lifetime use determined. SZN has tried different approaches with each collection, and as more information on environmental impact surfaces has evolved. For example our first collection used only pre-consumer waste, the second upcycled post consumer waste and current collection organic fabric in zero waste design. New information regarding the discovery of micro-plastic shed over the life-cycle of synthetic garments has informed our move to ultimately use the least toxic textiles available.
Do you believe that hiring labour in third world countries (upholding fair trade) is a positive thing? Or does come with its own social and environmental downfalls?
If companies forge good transparent relationships that can be monitored and provide for a healthy lifestyle for all of their labour force then I see that the skills, traditions and existence of international labour markets as necessary for the fashion industry. Unfortunately Australia has a limited manufacturing capacity and has not been able to technologically evolve to meet the standards, capacity and or skills of countries that have maintained their manufacturing industries. I also prefer to not differentiate labour as from 'third world countries' since ethical labour practices are more nuanced and poor conditions can be just as apparent within more developed nations.
In your opinion, has fast fashion been created by consumer demand? Or is it an invention of the industry?
No, fast fashion is a reflection of our times and lifestyles. Markets fail to account for the 'true cost' of resource-use, so they are able to be exploited without the impact considered in the pricing of the goods. Also the cost of living has changed dramatically so that disposable incomes must stretch to cover more. And marketing has targeted satisfying desire over the provision of quality goods from reputable companies.
Whose responsibility is it to change the attitude towards fashion consumption? Consumer? Manufacturer? Marketing companies? Bloggers? Social media influencers? Celebrities?
It is all of our responsibility to make sure that we consider the impact of our behaviour towards consumption - we should be the change we need.
How interested are millennials in being environmentally and socially conscious? Do you think awareness has become better or worse over the past few generations?
I'm really not sure, I feel that with the internet and individuals being able to best represent alternative views of the industry, awareness has increased. But at the same time the cost of products have dropped, marketing increased and populations grown so the environmental impact of our consumption has not reflected this increased awareness. Some people are not interested or informed of the impact of their purchases, so I still feel more needs to be done at the regulatory level to prevent markets from allowing business practices and resource use that is un-environmentally sound.
If you could change one thing about the fashion industry on a world-wide scale, what would it be?
Costing of resources. The life-cycle of resources should be economically considered at the input stage, so that manufacturers and consumers are responsible for the whole life-cycle of a product, including its disposal.