In honour of Fashion Revolution week, I’m interviewing the people behind some of my favourite responsible fashion brands. Since Fashion Revolution is all about asking who made my clothes lets get to know the people who make our clothes a little better. Today I’m talking to Shannon from Project Selvage an upcycling initiative from Melbourne.
Could you introduce yourself and tell me about your brand?
I am Shannon from Melbourne and I originally started Project Selvage while studying as a blog about behind the scenes of the fashion industry, but at the start of this year, I turned it into a real-life social business. Through Project Selvage, I aim to reduce the amount if textile waste that ends up in landfill. I do this by holding events, such as clothing swaps, upcycling and sewing workshops, as well as upcycling preloved clothing. I am a massive advocate for education, as I believe it creates behavioural change. Therefore, all of my business events and workshops focus on informing consumers about the ethical and environmental issues in the fashion industry and provoke them to think differently about how they shop.
It’s Fashion Revolution week right now, why do you think Fashion Revolution and the slow fashion movement are important?
It is important for consumers to make a connection with their clothing again and realise that there are real live people constructing these garments. I find there is a distinct lack of disconnect between the makers and the consumer, that has become steadily worse over the past few decades since people stopped making their own clothes and clothing became a cheap, disposable item.
The slow fashion movement and the Fashion Revolution are important tools and platforms to encourage people to appreciate what goes into making a garment, both from the environmental and ethical points of view.
We now live in a world where consumption of fashion is at an all-time high, but it is costing people their lives and precious environmental resources. These movements give a face to fashion and help people realise that clothing is something that should be valued and respected.
Could you tell me about how you ensure your brand remains ethical/sustainable?
Project Selvage tries to be as close to zero waste as possible. That means I don’t discard any fabric cut-offs, as I will later use them for trims and details on other garments. I even keep nearly all the cut-offs from the overlocker! I don’t want to waste anything and I constantly have new ideas about how I can utilise the materials I already have.
Aside from reducing waste, all of my sewing materials and preloved clothing are either sourced second hand or donated to me by family, friends and people in the community. One of the reasons I got into upcycling was I realised we already have an abundance of amazing materials and resource, why would I need to make something from scratch?
Price is often given as a barrier to ethical fashion. Could you tell me the average price of your pieces? (If they are £100+ please explain the higher cost eg fair wages, quality, materials etc)
The average price of my upcycled garments is about AUD$70 [around £40]
What are your top tips for consumers looking to make more ethical purchases?
- Do your research! It takes time but luckily there are a number of great online platforms popping up all the time, such as Rank-A-Brand, the Good On You app and JUST. Utilise these and get to know where your favourite brands stand in regards to ethical and sustainability practices. You will probably even find some new brands to love as well!
- Be a conscious consumer. Don’t mindlessly shop and when you are about to make a purchase, think about your wardrobe and if you really NEED it and if you will get a lot of wear out of it.
- Don’t be afraid to shop second hand. There are so many great op-shops in every city that have a lot of hidden treasures. In my opinion, buying second hand or upcycled clothing is the most ethical and sustainable way to shop. It is especially great if you can’t afford to pay for new ethical clothing, plus you know you will have something unique!
*Photos published with permission from Project Selvage