Published on 19/11/19
Sydney-based womenswear brand and manufacturer The Social Outfit partners with iconic brands to create positive outcomes for women and families in refugee and new migrant communities. This year, the label celebrates its fifth anniversary.
Carla Zampatti and Bianca Spender are just two of the Australian fashion icons who have collaborated with The Social Outfit over the last five years and are also ECA-accredited.
Partnerships play a key role in helping the label to create social cohesion and inclusion.
“We want to show that fashion is about collaboration and creativity. So many of us in Australia have a migrant background and relate to this experience. When brands hear our story, they want to work with us,” says The Social Outfit’s CEO, Camilla Schippa.
Inspired by The Social Studio in Melbourne (another proudly ECA-accredited business), founding CEO Jackie Ruddock launched The Social Outfit in 2014. Jackie built on her experience in social enterprise, developing a model that provides employment and training opportunities for refugee and new migrants, with a focus on women.
“Many of these women have experience sewing and the label works to build on their existing skills. When you come to a new country, building on the strengths you already have increases your confidence and makes learning other skills – like English – easier,” says Camilla.
Retail and manufacturing accounts for 70 per cent of the activities conducted by The Social Outfit, with training programs accounting for the remaining 30 per cent. Garments are manufactured on site, in the workroom above the label’s retail store in Newtown.
“Customers are able to meet and talk with the makers, it provides complete transparency. In turn the makers take pride in seeing customers wearing the clothes they’ve made,” says Camilla.
In this way, The Social Outfit celebrates the people behind the clothes it makes and provides complete transparency. Accreditation by Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA®), which the brand first gained in 2017, is a vital tool for communicating the ethical practices at the heart of the label.
“Having ECA® accreditation means our customers can be confident that when they shop with us, they are buying ethical. We are also a charity, so for the funding bodies that support us, accreditation provides confidence that we respect and uphold workers’ rights,” says Camilla.
Of the 23 refugees The Social Outfit has employed, Camilla says four are still employed by the label and 19 have been transitioned to other paid employment.
“Working for the label helps the makers understand Australian workplace practices, it has a positive impact on the women and their families. Seeing a mother work empowers her children, a further step towards successful integration. By bringing refugees of different backgrounds together with Sydneysiders, the work of The Social Outfit helps build social cohesion,” explains Camilla.
The employment model also facilitates sustainable change.
“Working at The Social Outfit builds confidence and a sense of community – of women coming together to celebrate how far they’ve come. Our work enables refugees to look forward. And by wearing the colourful The Social Outfit garments customers can take a stand for refugee rights, fair and dignified employment and women’s empowerment. What’s not to like?”