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4S: RETHINKING TEXTILE WASTE IN THE YEAR OF THE PANDEMIC

· SDGs,social enterprise,sustainability,circular economy,4S suppliers stories

4S: Sustainable & Social Suppliers' Stories

A FITTING CONNECTION

FIXING FASHION
Ahh fashion! There’s nothing quite like the extra confidence a snazzy new outfit gives. Looking a-la-mode provides a certain joy and puts a spring in the step. But there’s a dark downside to fashion that is ruining all the fun.

The textile industry is believed to be the second largest polluter in the world. In Australia alone, it is estimated that around 6,000 kilograms of clothing and textiles are sent to landfill every ten minutes.

It’s a shocking statistic, and one that makes it increasingly difficult to participate in the fashion industry with a social conscience.

Enter, A Fitting Connection

Katrina Naish has worked within Australia’s fashion industry for over 20 years. Her business, A Fitting Connection, helps get local fashion and textile brands to market by connecting them with fabric suppliers and manufacturers and overseeing the various practical steps that need to happen to bring a sustainable-fashion vision to life.

A Fitting Connection works primarily with local businesses and has a strong bent for helping brands with a sustainable-production vision. Even if products are produced in a sustainably-conscious manner, there is a waste problem when those garments arrive at the end of their life.

Katrina Naish - a fitting connection co-founder

Katrina Naish - Co-founder of A Fitting Connection

THE PANDEMIC RE-THINK

Like so many businesses, A Fitting Connection was hit hard by Covid-related shutdowns in 2020. Supply chains dried up as textile factories closed, and local clients slowed product development amidst the economic uncertainty. Rather than panic, Katrina decided to use this downtime to realign her fashion business to better reflect her values.

At the same time, in Australia, locked-down Melbournians were turning to old-fashioned pastimes such as breadmaking and sewing. Not only to giving them something to do, these activities also enveloped a new appreciation for ‘making do and mending’, as jobs fell by the wayside and the importance of local sustainability, rather than relying on imports, became more apparent.

An opportunity arose for Katrina to present a series of DIY workshops for the local Nillumbik Shire Council, showing viewers how to upcycle discarded textiles into fashionable accessories. The workshops were well received, and Katrina was named Nillumbik’s local artist of the month.
This gave Katrina the idea she was searching for to push back against fast-fashion: an upcycled fashion label.

The time is right to start a fashion revolution. During 2020, Melbournians were isolated at home for the best part of seven months, giving people time to detox from our fast-paced consumer culture, and to re-think what truly matters on a personal and community level. In recent years locals have embraced reusable shopping bags and keep cups with vigour. It is now time to bring the same ideas of sustainability into people’s fashion habits.

A fitting connection - rethinking textile waste

A fitting connection, working on their 'Refashioned' brand

GOING CIRCULAR

The path to rethink textile waste has two main challenges:

  • Linear industries: the current fashion model is linear: create-wear-waste. The industry needs to evolve into a circular model, where textiles can be upcycled.
  • Scalability: to think of something that works, it is necessary to find a solution that can be applicable at scale.

Katrina believes that the solution has to start locally.

To start with, A Fitting Connection has created a line of upcycled fashion and gift items using reclaimed fabrics, marketed under her own ‘ReFashioned’ brand. These include scarves and beanies made from discarded knitwear, and handy wrist bands with a key pocket for wearing during exercise, created out of old activewear. There are also children’s fabric art kits, which use repurposed sheets as their canvas.

Then there’s the ‘Fundraising With Purpose’ campaign, which enables local schools and businesses to make money twice – first by being paid to donate old textiles, then again by selling the products created by re-using them. Even better, Katrina can work with the organisation to develop a product that is just right for their community – such as those handy wrist bands for joggers.
For now, all of this is done on a local scale, based in Melbourne’s north-eastern suburbs. This allows for experimentation to see what ideas will fly, and eliminates resource-intense transport issues.

HOW YOU CAN BE FASHION-FORWARD

Katrina plans on using her fashion networks to soon start upcycling on a grander scale and is seeking local brands to partner with.

If you are a Melbourne-based fashion or textile seller who has excess stock you would like to recycle rather than waste, then Katrina would love to talk to you. There may be an opportunity to take those extra fabrics and turn them into something new that can be sold by you or others.

For local organisations in search of an environmentally sustainable fundraiser, there is also the Fundraising With Purpose program.
Contact Katrina via her website and make sure to follow her on social media!

A NEW ECOSYSTEM FOR SUSTAINABLE AND SOCIAL SUPPLIERS

givvable is an innovative technology platform helping businesses capture and track the sustainability credentials of suppliers.

Founded by Frances Atkins and Naomi Vowels, givvable is an ecosystem bringing together sustainable and social buyers and suppliers. These two sisters are on a mission to help businesses spend with impact!

givvable is supported by the University of NSW, Singapore Management University, the Impact Accelerator, X15 Ventures, Optus Future Makers and Microsoft Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship.

 

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