Published on 12/12/18
When Sample Room became ethically accredited in 2009 it wasn’t a huge leap, as its practices were already in line with Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA®) standards.
Located in Brunswick East, Melbourne, Sample Room has carved a niche for itself as the only end-to-end production house in Australia.
In addition to offering services, training and consultancy in the applied technical skills that underpin a clothing label, it’s the home of two successful in-house brands, Winterluxe and Sha-De.
With 100 per cent of its operations in-house, Sample Room is proudly committed to local manufacturing and skills development, ethical workplace conditions, and producing high-quality garments.
“Sample Room started with just me – the conditions had to be good, because I was working in them! Today my team numbers somewhere between five and ten, and everything we do is done in-house here in Brunswick East,” says owner Julia Van Der Sommen.
It also mentors designers through the startup phase of creating a label through its Fashion Label Launchpad. So far, more than 300 mentees have completed the six-month online program.
“We teach mentees how to be organised and prepared so that they can be a great person to work with, and encourage them to give the people helping to make their label happen the respect and recognition they deserve.”
Julia thinks the benefits of developing strong relationships with local makers, and developing an in-depth understanding of all the businesses – and their practices – in a supply chain are not considered enough by businesses that choose to manufacture offshore.
“I’ve found that often people want to make it cheaper, so they engage unethical suppliers. Labour is a label’s biggest cost – when you say you want to make production cheaper; you’re saying you want to pay people less,” says Julia.
“How about instead of paying people less, we look at your brand and your niche and create a desire, then we tell the story so that people understand the cost? It’s about flipping the story.”
Julia believes consumers are increasingly concerned to ensure that product has been made in fair and safe conditions, and are willing to pay more for an ECA accredited product.
The ongoing success of brands who’ve kept their production in Australia – including Julia’s own two in-house brands – stand testament to this.
“I want to work in an industry where people are proud of the partnerships they have. I believe in promoting everybody, so we can build our local industry and grow its reputation, and that means acknowledging and valuing everyone in the supply chain.”
Business type: End-to-end production house, label studio
Services: Pattern making, sample making, grading, production preparations, consultation and assistance
In-house brands: Winterluxe and Sha-De
Location: Brunswick East, Melbourne
Accredited since: 2009
Social media: instagram.com/sampleroom/