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ECA Week Worker Story: Simone from A.BCH

By Worker stories
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ECA Week Worker Story: Simone from A.BCH

This is a featured post written by Simone from A.BCH, an Ethical Clothing Australia accredited brand.

My name is Simone and I am the Head Machinist at A.BCH. My job involves manufacturing all the garments we make in-house, including all of our custom pieces. I also do sampling of new styles and some repairs by hand. I enjoy problem solving and figuring out the best way to achieve the results that Courtney (the Founder and Director of A.BCH) wants for the garments.

I started sewing as a teenager and I always loved the idea of being a garment technician.

Simone, Head Machinist at A.BCH

I was born in Toronto, Canada and moved to the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne in 1997. I started sewing as a teenager and I always loved the idea of being a garment technician. Something about following instructions and finishing something perfectly has always been really satisfying to me. After a lot of trial and error at uni, I finally finished my Bachelor of Fashion Design at RMIT in 2018. However, working as a machinist wasn’t really promoted as a goal at uni, so I didn’t seek out a position right away.

I started out doing a lot of freelance work, from pattern making, to textile design, to working as casual machinist doing small runs for local brands. I started working at A.BCH just over a year ago.

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I learnt a lot about industry standards of sewing while at uni, but I had a really great knowledge base from Judy, who was my beautiful sewing teacher of many years. All the best tips and tricks that I’ve learned are from machinists, tailors, and anyone I could convince to teach me about whatever they were doing at the time. The rest is practice, practice, practice, trial, error, another error, and you can find a tutorial for almost anything on YouTube.

All the best tips and tricks that I’ve learned are from machinists, tailors, and anyone I could convince to teach me about whatever they were doing at the time.

Simone, Head Machinist at A.BCH

My current favourite piece from A.BCH is the A.38 Raw Denim Trench Coat. It is such a stunning piece, and you feel like such a boss wearing it. It’s beautifully tailored and the denim is just so lux. I love it because I could easily see it being part of my wardrobe forever.

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ECA Week Outworker Story: Kim

By Worker stories
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ECA Week Outworker Story: Kim

My name is Kim. I’m originally from Vietnam and I now live in Melbourne

I’ve been working as a sewing machinist for a long time! I started working in my 20s, so I have been doing this job for over 20 years. I started working in the industry because it was the family business. My cousin had a factory and many people in my family worked there. Some of my family members are still working in the industry here and back home in Vietnam, but I’m the only person working from home (as an outworker) in my family.

Before this job, I was being paid per garment, but now I have a signed agreement and part-time hours. I have more job security, better pay, and other entitlements.

Kim, Homeworker

I have five kids and used to be a full-time mum, though I did occasionally do a little bit of work at a clothing factory. I used to work long hours, sometimes until 2am, to get sewing jobs done. When a lot of the machinist work went offshore, we had to take a lower pay because there wasn’t enough work. Now there is a shortage of skills in the industry because people left it. I did too – I went to work in a bakery and as an Uber driver for a while, but I came back to sewing because I love the work.

Working from home suits my schedule and lifestyle. I have two girls in primary school and working from home allows me to drop them off and pick them up from school. When they’re sick, I don’t have to take sick leave because I can look after them while I work. Being in my own space and managing my own time is important to me.

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Apart from sewing, my favourite thing to do is cook for my kids. We’re a big family and we love to eat together. On the weekend, my older children come over to my house and they always ask for special meals to take home with them. Their favourite dishes are phở (brothy rice noodle soup) and crab or pork bánh canh (thick noodle soup).

For me, it’s not about the money, it’s about whether my work looks good or not.

Kim, Homeworker

I have never worked within an Ethical Clothing Australia supply chain until now. Before this job, I was being paid per garment, but now I have a signed agreement and part-time hours. I have more job security, better pay, and other entitlements.

I specialise in sewing stretch fabrics and I prefer to sew simple garments – I make hoodies, jersey dresses, T-shirts, and women’s clothing. I get an order from the company and make some samples, usually in a size 10, 12 and 18. I send the samples over to the company, and they check the fit of the garment on their fit models. If there are any issues, they mark up the samples and send them back to me for adjustment. After doing the sampling, I receive the full order and a timeframe to finish the job. When I get an order done ahead of time, I get to take some time off!

I believe in being a responsible and reliable worker. If the company says there is something wrong, I’ll be there in half an hour to fix it. For me, it’s not about the money, it’s about whether my work looks good or not.

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Accredited Brand Spotlight: Teshani from Luna and Sun the Label

By Business spotlight
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Accredited Brand Spotlight: Teshani from Luna and Sun the Label

This is a featured post written by a team member at Luna and Sun the Label, an Ethical Clothing Australia accredited brand. 

My name is Teshani and I am the founder and designer of Luna and Sun the Label. I was born in Sri Lanka and my family moved to Brisbane when I was three. Ever since I was little, I knew that I wanted to start my own fashion label.  

Before creating Luna and Sun the Label in 2019, I studied fashion and completed several sustainable fashion courses, then did a lot of research on the industry. After learning about the negative impacts the fast fashion industry was having on people, animals and the environment, I decided to not only start a fashion label but also create a community to give women easy tips to live more sustainably. 

I have always loved fashion and how clothes can make us feel more confident, and I care deeply about sustainability. My clothing label incorporates both of these passions.

Teshani McManus

I discovered I was pregnant shortly after launching Luna and Sun. It was a surprise, but I believe that everything happens for a reason. Despite a very challenging pregnancy and birth experience with my daughter Mya, it opened my eyes to what was missing for women going through a similar experience. What got me through the difficult moments was the support and love of my husband and the strong women around me. I’d love for Luna and Sun to be that rock to other women – whatever stage of their motherhood journey they may be on. I design and test each Luna and Sun piece (as many times as it takes to get it perfect) on many different women and at varied stages of motherhood. I have worked hard to create pieces that adapt to a changing body and are also breastfeeding-friendly. 

I have another job and with my little one Mya, each day at work is a little different for me. On the days I’m not working at my other job, I usually work on Luna and Sun while Mya is napping or when she’s asleep at night. During this time, I answer emails, work on social media and newsletter content, and package orders. 

Being of South Asian background myself, the hardships and inequalities that women face when working in the garment industry are close to my heart. This drove me to build Luna and Sun on transparent and ethical values, and I’m proud to say all our clothing is made in Brisbane by a manufacturer that is compliant with the Australian labour laws. I wanted to empower women, and not just the women who wear my brand, but those who bring the clothing to life. 

I decided to get my label accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia because I felt that it was important to ensure that our manufacturing supply chain was ethical, as I know that ECA does all the appropriate checks. My experience has been that customers love to support people and businesses that are committed to manufacturing fashion ethically and locally. 

There are so many benefits of having our ECA accreditation. Customers know it's a thorough process so they can be assured that we are committed to ethical fashion.

Teshani McManus

My current favourite item from Luna and Sun is our lightweight linen Ceylon Shirt in the colour seaweed. This shirt is so versatile and can be worn all throughout the year. They are a wardrobe staple, and I wear mine all the time! 

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Accredited Manufacturer Spotlight: Jac from five.one.six

By Business spotlight

Accredited Manufacturer Spotlight: Jac from five.one.six

This is a featured post written by Jac at five.one.six, an Ethical Clothing Australia accredited manufacturer.

My name is Jacinta (Jac), and I’ve been running five.one.six since 2021 (it’s still a baby!). I started five.one.six hoping to meet the demand for small scale localised production, as well as to provide access to industrial grade facilities to support other small businesses. It’s been a privilege to facilitate this space and produce work for brands and people that I love.

I primarily work with small start-up brands based in Melbourne and currently work as a sole trader. It’s an honour to be a small yet important part of such a conveyor belt and watching this space grow has been the biggest joy. Melbourne has a relentlessly creative pulse – always on the next thing, always feeding itself.

This space has allowed me to elevate so much as an artist and assist others to achieve creative and technical outcomes for their own practices as well.

Jac Lombardozzi

My background is mostly in fashion, though I love to learn and take in as much as I can. My fashion studies (a Bachelor of Fashion [Design] [Honours] at RMIT University) were interrupted by the pandemic, which is why I decided to gain back some control and start my own business. It was the best decision I’ve made and at the most unexpected time.

I think it’s important for workers to be paid fairly through ethical manufacturing. The price of garments should reflect the true cost of manufacturing, and that we should respect the work that goes into production. Fast fashion brands often hide their unethical practices, and I think it’s important to fight against that trend. I believe in consuming more slowly and in a considered way.

I recently moved from my studio in Brunswick into a larger space in Fawkner. I’m renovating my new workspace to add a cutting room, as I’ve heard from businesses that they would love to have a cutting service available. five.one.six has plans to expand beyond sole trader ownership, so accreditation is important to me. I would love to hire a fabric cutter and another technician or machinist to assist with my bookings and production runs.

ECA is an integral part of making sure businesses like mine are stipulating industry regulations to make sure workers are being cared for and paid correctly, myself included. It’s all about regulating fair work.

Jac Lombardozzi
Faye 2022 Merino Country

Worker Story: Faye from Merino Country

By Worker stories

Worker Story: Faye from Merino Country

Faye 2022 Merino Country

This is a featured post written by a team member at Merino Country, an Ethical Clothing Australia accredited brand.

I started working as a sewing machinist in the 1970’s and learned on the job. I had decided that I didn’t want to go to school anymore, and my dad said, ‘If you don’t go to school, you have to go to work’.

My first job as a sewing machinist was at a factory underneath the Story Bridge in Kangaroo Point, Brisbane. I have worked as a sewing machinist ever since for a few different companies. I started working with Merino Country making thermals for their contract with the Australian Defence Force in 2010.

These days, I help make everything in Australian Merino from Merino wool undies (Wundies) to T-shirts. Overlocking (sewing the edges of fabric to prevent fraying) is my specialty. Even though I could have retired by now, I enjoy coming to work for the company, friendship and laughter!

My favourite Merino Country piece is the Short Swing Jacket as it is easy to wear and keeps me warm, and it looks great paired with the Merino Leggings.

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Worker Story: Kym from Merino Country

By Worker stories

Worker story: Kym from Merino Country

This is a featured post written by a team member at Merino Country, an Ethical Clothing Australia accredited brand.

When I was 16 years old, I finished school and I had the option of working in a few different areas, like retail or hospitality. I chose to pursue work as a sewing machinist because it was something I loved to do, and still love 44 years later!

My first job was making bras at a big international underwear company. When I first walked into the factory, there were so many machines lined up on the factory floor and I thought that it was huge and daunting. This was the job that taught me everything I needed to be a sewing machinist. After I’d been at the factory for a few years, the work was moved offshore like a lot of manufacturing in Australia. After that I worked with another manufacturer for many years where I made Merino Country’s first pairs of Merino wool undies (Wundies) in 1998.

Kym 2022 Merino Country

I’m now working at Merino Country, and I love my job! It is so fulfilling to make something from pieces of fabric and transform it into something beautiful and useful. Working as a sewing machinist is classified as a “factory job” and I think there is still a lot of stigma around that. To me, these jobs are vital. Especially for fashion – you need to learn a bit about every process to make a garment – not just the design part.

My favourite piece from Merino Country is the Pocket Dress. It’s a very versatile piece that you can add layers to, plus it’s comfy and looks great too!

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Outworker Story: Anh

By Worker stories

Outworker Story: Anh

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We would like to introduce you to Anh, who is a Melbourne-based outworker.

Anh learned how to sew and tailor clothing back home in Vietnam when she was a girl. She moved from Vietnam to Melbourne in 1991 after marrying her husband and started working in a clothing factory in Melbourne. After having her daughter, she decided to become an outworker so that she could look after her daughter at home. 

Anh is a skilled worker and makes high-end fashion garments for women, including dresses, shirts and jackets. She receives the cut fabric in bundles and sews together the garment, which includes everything except for the buttons, buttonholes, pressing and trimming. 

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Working from home meant that Anh was isolated and without support, because she no longer had people at work to talk to. She was put in touch with the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union, and has since received a lot of support and information about outworkers’ rights.  

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Anh is pictured in her home workshop with Nguyet Nguyen, an Outworker Outreach Officer on the compliance team. 

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RAW TO A T event wrap up

By Events

RAW TO A T event wrap up

The Ethical Clothing Australia team had the opportunity to exhibit at RAW TO A T in Melbourne during May. 

Run by RawAssembly, RAW TO A T is a conference and circular sourcing event for the fashion and textiles sectors. 

ECA exhibited on the industry-only days on 24-26 May alongside ECA accredited businesses Knovus (formerly Knit Melbourne), The Social Studio and ABMT Apparel.

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Molly and Patricia from Knovus, a knitting development house.

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Andrew from ABMT Apparel, a specialist textile manufacturer.

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Dewi from The Social Studio, a manufacturing studio, fashion label and retail space.

Amanda Bresnan was also asked to speak at a Collarts panel on one of the consumer-facing days of Raw To A T. 

Amanda panel

Chaired by Sarah Conners (Head of Fashion & Sustainability at Collarts), the panel also included Teslin Doud (Sustainability Specialist for Projects at Country Road Group & David Jones) and Ben Kaminsky (Cofounder of Textile Recycling Australia). 

The panel involved a discussion around whether we value style over substance in fashion, the role that fashion media and education can play in rethinking the value of fashion, and how collaboration can improve the current state of the industry. 

Many thanks to RawAssembly and Collarts for having us!

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Australian Defence Apparel factory tour

By Uncategorised

Australian Defence Apparel
factory tour

The Ethical Clothing Australia team recently had the opportunity to head out on a factory tour to Australian Defence Apparel in Bendigo, Victoria. We were greeted by David Frith and Kerry Hodges, who showed us around the factory and introduced us to some of the workers.

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During the factory tour, we had the opportunity to walk through the different parts of the factory, discuss the functions of the machines and speak to the people who operate them.

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Sue working on a pocketsetter machine.

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Tim, who has been a Patternmaker for 30 years, laying out a pattern for a camouflage coat.

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Some of ADA’s workers on the factory floor.

During our tour, we got to hear Kerry’s story of how she became the Factory Manager at ADA.

She started working at the business as a sewing machinist in 1988 and worked her way up. She has held many different roles at ADA over the years and did work in quality inspecting and supervising before becoming the Factory Manager over 15 years ago.

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This is Australian Defence Apparel’s new embroidery machine that they are currently setting up and about to launch.

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Kerry showing David, Amanda and Jason some fabric for fire resistant garments.

Thank you to Australian Defence Apparel for showing us around your factory!

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RAW TO A T announcement

By Events
Event

RAW TO A T announcement

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We are excited to announce that Ethical Clothing Australia will be exhibiting at ‘RAW TO A T’ in Melbourne next month!

The conference and sourcing event, which is run by RawAssembly, is a regenerative and circular sourcing event for the fashion and textiles sectors. It was created to increase the awareness of sustainable solutions and to drive forward new collaborations and opportunities for a regenerative future facing fashion industry in Australia.

‘RAW TO A T’ brings together a diverse range of stakeholders across the ecosystem to explore how, what and when the fashion industry can transform its current model of production and consumption to a system that better protects people and the planet.

Ethical Clothing Australia will be exhibiting 24-26 May 2022 on the industry-only days.

To learn more, head to the ‘RAW TO A T’ website.

📸 @atongatem (Atong Atem), BETA STH BNK by Hanover House