Skip to main content
News_

Finding the perfect outfit is about to get harder

10 August 2015
Ethical and eco-friendly clothing on the rise

A growing number of sustainable fashion companies entering the Australian market are set to shake up the way we shop, according to a University of Sydney doctoral student.

Models in clothing by Clean Cut, an Australian sustainable fashion label, at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2014. [Image: Clean Cut]

PhD candidate Lisa Heinze, from the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, will share her research into changing consumer fashion trends at the Sydney Environment Institute panel, Beauty Without Harm, on Wednesday 12 August.

Heinze joins Australian fashion icon Kit Willow Podgornik, founder of WILLOW and new label KITX, Ethical Sourcing Manager at David Jones Jaana Quaintance-James, and Dr Frances Flanagan from the Sydney Environment Institute for a talk that will unravel the stereotypes of sustainable fashion.

While many people face the daily struggle of what to wear, few are in a position to make informed fashion choices, with no national accreditation body currently certifying clothing which is both environmentally sustainable and ethically produced.   

“It’s very rare to find a label or a garment that is ticking all the right boxes. It’s quite common to find a brand that is dedicated to being sweatshop-free, but their environmental credentials won’t be as strong,” said Heinze, author of Sustainability with Style.

Most people don’t want to buy something that’s made in a sweatshop – it’s not that people want to choose that as an option – but it can be really difficult to know how something was made.
Lisa Heinze

Currently only one certification – Ethical Clothing Australia – provides information on working conditions for accredited brands and manufacturers producing garments in Australia.

Following the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, there’s been a marked change in how people make their fashion choices, said Heinze.

“Consumers have little patience for companies that don’t know how their clothing is produced. But at this point they also don’t seem to be aware of how deep and complex the fashion supply chain can become.”

The days of daggy eco-fashion are numbered, with an increasing number of sustainably- and style-conscious retailers bursting onto the Australian fashion scene. So far, Heinze has interviewed 25 sustainable fashion designers, labels and retailers to present an accurate overview of the industry today.

“All of the retailers I’ve interviewed acknowledge that we need to move beyond the old stereotypes of what eco fashion looks like,” said Heinze.

“There’s a recognition that aesthetics and style has to be as good as everything else that’s out there. Price, style and availability tend to be the top three issues when choosing fashion, and many people aren’t even aware of the sustainability factor.”

As major global labels like H&M launch their ‘Conscious’ Collection, the opportunities for making sustainable fashion decisions are likely to increase in future. Heinze believes the first step towards change is to increase awareness among both consumers and the industry.

“The answer is not to make people feel guilty about shopping for pleasure but rather painting a realistic picture of fashion consumption, and in doing so it will make it easier for people to consume fashion sustainably,” she said.

The panel is co-presented by Sydney Ideas and the Sydney Environment Institute at the University of Sydney.

Event details

What: Beauty Without Harm’ panel

When: Wednesday 12 August, 6.30 to 8.00pm

Where: Law School Foyer, Level 2, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney

Cost: Free, registration requested

Podcast: Listen to the audio online now

Emily Jones

Media and Public Relations Adviser

Sydney Law School

Related articles

30 August 2015

Sydney alumni echo our vision of leadership

We celebrate the achievements and values of our students and alumni in a campaign that rolled out on campus, online, and on train stations, buses and street posters across Sydney last week.

27 August 2015

Athletes score for disability and donors

Wheelchair basketball athletes from the NSW Institute of Sport and Wheelchair Sports NSW showed their support for the Pave the Way campaign this week.    

14 August 2015

18 of our most exciting scientists on Twitter

It’s National Science Week this week from 15-23 August and for all you science lovers, we have created a list of the University of Sydney’s most exciting scientists on Twitter.

24 August 2015

Five things to think about when choosing a university course

How do you choose the right university, or the right degree, for you, asks Professor Duncan Ivison, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research). 

11 August 2015

How Einstein could help unlock the mysteries of space travel

Warp drives might be the stuff of science fiction, but they could be a step closer to reality if we look to Einstein's theory of gravity, according to a University of Sydney researcher.

25 August 2015

University of Sydney offers industry training to Radio Beijing Corporation

An industry training experience devised by the Department of Media and Communications is pairing RBC delegates with the latest broadcasting industry insights and research.

19 August 2015

Winter Sleepout in the Quad

Eighty University of Sydney students will sleep under the stars in the iconic Quadrangle this week to raise awareness of homelessness.

06 August 2015

University of Sydney celebrates Sydney Science Festival

From Einstein's theory of gravity to Aboriginal astronomical knowledge, University of Sydney researchers are proving there’s no single formula for exploring a love of science this National Science Week. 

07 August 2015

Partnering with Japan’s largest bank

The University of Sydney has partnered with Japan’s largest bank, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU) to provide students international internship opportunities.

17 August 2015

Urban myth-busters set the record straight on the real city problems

Are foreign investors forcing Aussies out of the property market? Will building more houses bring prices down? Does building more roads really reduce traffic congestion? These questions and more will be tackled at the University of Sydney’s second Festival of Urbanism from 1 - 10 September.