That One Time Sustainability Was Described As “Annoying”

A Magazine|June - July 2020

That One Time Sustainability Was Described As “Annoying”
Designers Down Under reveal how they strike the tricky balance between creativity and sustainability. A Magazine reports from the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.
Aaron Kok

Right before the world went into lockdown, Melbourne hosted its annual Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, where we saw collections from more than 50 designers. Initially slated to run over 10 days, the event was cut short due to government restrictions in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the city’s brightest design talents were ready to impress, and let us in on how they have kept their brands earth-friendly.

For one, much public misconception about circular fashion remains — a topic Courtney Holm tackles through her three-year-old label A.Bch, which champions timeless, minimalist cuts in a largely neutral palette. As she says: “People call themselves a circular business if they’re reselling or renting clothing, but that’s not necessarily true. That’s part of the recycling economy but it’s not circularity; eventually those flows will stop even though they’ll loop for a while.”

When Holm describes circular fashion as “the heartbeat” of A.Bch, it’s no lip service. Customers are made aware of production details, from how the cloth is woven to where the threads were sourced. The brand also publishes a full list of materials used in supply chains on its website, with each expounding on the pros and even cons of specific materials.

One example is bamboo, a material many leading fashion brands actively promote as eco-friendly. Holm likens it to a masquerade, because these brands neglect to explain how the process of turning bamboo into soft fabric generates harmful chemical waste. All this can create conflicting messages and leave consumers confused and misinformed.

To better educate its customers, A.Bch employs lifecycle assessment tests that include verifying how it biodegrades and ensuring that it doesn’t require specialised washing on every material before it reaches the retail floor.

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June - July 2020