Recently I was interviewed by the Fashion Advocate who advocates specially for Australian ethical and sustainable fashion. Weekend reads of what is so close to our hearts.
Helen Atcheson isn't concerned with trends or fads, contrary to the popular fashion model. Helen is an art lover, an environmentalist, and the passionate mind behind Love Linen, an ethical fashion label.
Helen is inspired by all things natural, and her designs reflect the balmy days and sticky nights of her Western Australia lifestyle where some winter days are a beautiful 29 degrees. In that kind of environment, linen is a must, and it's the only fabric Helen chooses to use in her range.
She's a passionate supporter of local craft herself, and she lovingly pours her passion for sustainable fashion into her range.
Love Linen's Belle Dress may have been designed for the warm and sticky weather of Helen's hometown in Broome, but I live in it, even when it’s winter in Melbourne. That’s the secret of a sustainable wardrobe; buying pieces you can layer and mix and match season after season, all throughout the year. I’ve teamed it with an old white skivvy, and it would look great with a pair of boots and tights too, but it’s perfect with swimwear in summer, or flats on a sunny Sunday.
It's my favourite pick in the Love Linen range, and a sustainable wardrobe staple too. I recently picked Helen's creative brain on her love for linen, and what it means to be a conscious fashion label...
Why are you passionate about ethical fashion?
Well, we could be here for some time! The fashion industry is well known for its exploitation of human and natural resources. It is something that is not thought enough about when purchasing, but if most people did, they would realise they are largely supporting slave labour (the majority of which are women and children), and it's not a pretty thought. We all have an obligation, to take responsibility for every purchase we make and who or what we are supporting with our dollar vote. Ethical fashion is not just about supporting fair wages and working conditions, and it is very hard to imagine this is even an issue in this day in age. Rather, it is supporting the bigger impact of these conditions. If something is not made ethically, to a large extent it will not live a long life. Then the circle continues of unsustainable waste and pollution, of which the fashion industry is number two in the world. This has to change. We feel education is the key and we are very proud to be part of this movement in Australia. Thankfully we have advocates such as The Fashion Advocate, in addition to an Australian accreditation body representing this and we are proudly new members of Ethical Clothing Australia too.
Why do you think sustainability is important in the fashion industry?
We all need to realise that sustainability has been a gross afterthought. With the explosion of technology, synthetic textiles and fast fashion particularly over the last 20 years, it is only just recently that we are turning things around and realising that the way we're operating - can't continue. The fashion industry does not currently support sustainability. Consumers are encouraged to follow trends and seasons and to keep up with whatever is new. But sustainability in the fashion industry is no longer a choice; it is an obligation. We cannot continue on our current wasteful path. Among many disturbing facts and figures, more than three-quarters of clothing ends up in landfill or incinerated within its first year – and this has to change. So, we've turned towards natural fibres and quality made clothing designed to last. Sustainability within the fashion industry, must go hand in hand with an awakening of what you may say is trending – minimalism, a slower, considered and more conscious way of life. It's a better way of consuming. As consumers, we must take this responsibility in everything we do.
Who or what inspires you?
In addition to the above, I love what I do. I love being part of the slow fashion movement in Australia. I love supporting our beautiful country and keeping it small, keeping it real, keeping it Australian made and operated. I love natural fibres; linen just may be my favourite! I have always been a little arty so putting my creativity out there in the world through fashion, although a little scary, is very fulfilling. Most of all, my inspiration comes from my beautiful home town of Broome. Broome is pretty much summer all year round and natural fibres are all you want to wear in tropical, hot climates. The natural qualities that only linen possesses are how Love Linen came about.
How do you spread the word on the slow fashion movement?
Our focus is on classic styles and functional designs which are made to last a lifetime. We do not follow fashion trends or seasons and we aim to produce timeless essentials through our love of linen. Those familiar with linen, know that part of its beauty is that it gets better with time. We also focus on short-run production which means we only make a few of each style in carefully chosen quality linen fabric. We are always looking towards supporting more earth-friendly and sustainable ways of everything we do and communicating it too. Around 91% of all clothing sold in Australia is imported, but if consumers made a commitment to shop local and Australian made, slow fashion would naturally become prominent. With making more local, conscious purchases also comes added variety, quality, uniqueness and authenticity from supporting local Australian businesses. We are very proud to be a part of this by sharing our story, and while we may be one of few, I believe if we stand together, we can make a world of difference.
Where does your love of linen come from and why do you champion this fabric in your collections?
What’s not to love about a fabric that gets better with time?! There are so many reasons why we are so passionate about linen; it is sustainable from harvest to production, and we value the time, care and skill (almost ancient) required to produce quality linen. It is also extremely durable and it possesses intrinsic qualities as the world's oldest fabric. We believe it is the most loved, natural fibre available, and we believe there is so much more we can do with linen that has not been explored yet. This is just the beginning for us and we are so excited about our journey. Love, through linen, goes into absolutely everything we do.
Support a sustainable fashion future and shop the full Love Linen range here.