Published on 31/10/19
The Social Studio is a not-for-profit social enterprise based in Collingwood, Melbourne, where its manufacturing studio and retail store facilitates a fashion-based education program for refugees and new migrants, and its own in-house fashion label.
Since its launch The Social Studio has been accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia – making ethical production part of its foundation. In this feature we look at this unique organisation and fashion brand and manufacturer as it celebrates its 10-year anniversary.
The Social Studio supports young people from local refugee and new migrant communities to learn new skills, with more than 700 people having participated in its fashion-based education and employment programs to date.
The Social Studio’s Chief Operating Officer, Aleksandra Nedeljkovic, explains that their fashion-based education program, ran in partnership with local university RMIT, is at the heart of The Social Studio.
“The fashion label allows us to create design and production jobs, internships and mentor programs. The label also opens up doors for our students to participate with the local fashion industry,” says Aleksandra Nedeljkovic.
For students, this means gaining exposure to the industry, and the opportunity to build networks through external collaborations.
“Our students surprise and inspire us every day with their passion, creativity and drive. They are the lifeblood of The Social Studio and we learn just as much from them as they do from our school.”
Ensuring that the people making the clothes are treated fairly is vital to The Social Studio’s ethos – hence its longstanding accreditation with Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA®).
“Accreditation fits directly in with our ethical business practices and helps us contribute to a stronger, more ethical industry in Australia. It demonstrates the value we place on the people who make our products.”
The Social Studio’s fashion label is also sustainably focussed, with all manufacturing completed on-site using upcycled deadstock fabric donated by local industry partners.
“For manufacturing clients, we offer ethically and sustainably produced, small to medium runs with flexibility. We work closely with each of our clients to tailor our production approach to their values, such as zero production waste.”
The Social Studio is also contributing to a growing entrepreneurial spirit in the community sector, investing in community development work and supporting other communities to start up similar models from the get-go.
“We’ve discovered the importance of ‘scaling deep’ rather than ‘scaling up’, and have begun sharing intellectual property, such as our expertise on social enterprise and community development.”
As a social enterprise, The Social Studio’s key measure of success is its impact.
The Social Studio values the role education plays in breaking down barriers and our social impact can be seen in the opportunity our students go on to. Past students have now started their own labels or undertake further study in a variety of fields, including and beyond fashion. Everything we do ties back into creating education and employment opportunities for refugee youth.”