Canberra’s sustainable fashion on show at Fashfest

As a sustainable fashion blogger I don’t often expect to see much that I am willing to buy on the runway. This was an assumption that I made based on my knowledge of the fashion industry. But I didn’t take the time to investigate whether this was the case. So I was delighted to hear that Canberra’s glamorous fashion event Fashfest would have a whole show dedicated to sustainable and slow fashion labels, which I was invited to see for myself.

Fashfest held six shows over three nights, with one of the six shows dedicated to sustainable and slow fashion brands. That fact alone renewed my hope for change in the industry. One sixth of fashion brands showing is a significant proportion.

Canberra's fashion runway event Fashfest

Perhaps unsurprisingly, my highlight of the night was Pure Pod, one of the pioneering labels of the Australian sustainable fashion scene. Designer Kelli Donovan’s collection did not disappoint, featuring indigo shibori, nature inspired prints, and comfortable tailoring that is equally at home on the runway, in the office, or at the park.  But it was Kelli’s collaboration with botanical installation artist Field & Coppice and sustainable jewellery designer EcoBling that enabled the collection to steal the show. Kelli’s garments were beautifully complemented by upcycled jewellery and accessories, and intricately sculpted botanical headpieces and wings that evoked scenes of garden nymphs and faeries.

sustainable fashion label Pure Pod at Canberra's Fashfest

sustainable fashion label Pure Pod at Canberra's Fashfest

Another personal favourite of mine was Edition by Canberra-based zero-waste designer Alice Sutton. Alice employs Selvedge 2 Selvedge pattern making techniques to ensure that each garment can be cut from one continuous piece of cloth, without any pieces of fabric being wasted as off-cut. This is is important because traditional pattern making wastes up to 30% of the fabric as off-cuts. The result of this type of pattern making is intricate and unique designs, which take great skills for the garment maker to bring to life. Alice’s attention to sustainable textile choice makes her beautiful designs a worthwhile sustainable investment. If in Canberra, you can find her garments stocked at Braddon boutique Assemblage Project.

Zero-waste sustainable fashion label Edition at Canberra's Fashfest

Zero waste sustainable fashion at Canberra's Fashfest

Another Canberra-based designer showing on the night was slow fashion label Karen Lee. I absolutely loved the detailed tailoring which interacts beautifully with the female form, in all of it’s expressions. The designer showed her commitment to this, with the most inclusive selection of body types and sizes of any of the labels on the runway. (Although I must say that many of the sustainable labels did quite well on this front).

Inclusive fashion on the runway at Canberra's Fashfest


Slow fashion on the runway at Canberra's Fashfest

Karen Lee’s collection is ethically made, good quality, timeless style. As far as I can tell, specific attention isn’t given to sustainability in textile choice, but if you browse through her range you can probably find a few garments that would meet your expectations on sustainability. Certainly the timelessness and quality would make them a garment that you invest in for a decade of wear. The label is stocked at the designer’s Canberra boutique Assemblage Project.

From further afield was Melbourne-based sustainable fashion label SZN by designer Susan Dlouhy. The tailoring in her unisex garments caught my eye, but I am not sure there were too many garments in her collection that I would personally wear. She also featured the most ethnically diverse collection of models of all the labels on this night, so the designer must be applauded for her inclusivity. When is came to her designs, there were few too many jumpsuits for my liking. My friend even went as far as to suggest the that white ones looked like hospital suits and a white jacket with crossed-detailing too closely resembled a straight jacket. Interestingly, when the colour of the garment was other than white, they didn’t evoke the same associations. The talent of the designer clearly showed through, and I cannot deny her skill, even if only a portion of the collection appealed to me. We all have our preferences, and I am sure each of her garments will find their fans.

Sustainable fashion label SZN at Fashfest

Sustainable fashion label SZN at Canberra's Fashfest

These were not the only sustainable fashion labels on show, but they were the highlights for me. It is wonderful to see sustainable fashion brands coming to prominence. It makes me hopeful that sustainable fashion will continue to grow as consumers come to learn that the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. Seeing these sustainable fashion alternatives making a splash on the runway will certainly help to convert a few more fashionistas over to the cause.