The Many Hands Behind Farn
You can’t miss the bold patterns and vivid colours of Melbourne based screen printed textiles and clothing brand Farn. The brand was founded by fashion buyer turned textile designer Amanda in 2018 after she took a career break to study Textile Design at RMIT. As part of our March focus on the many hands that contribute to the making of an ethical and local garment, we spoke to Amanda to learn more about the brand, to meet the markers and to understand why ECA accreditation is important to her business.
Farn became accredited with ECA in 2020, can you tell us a little about why you sought ECA accreditation and why it is important to you and your business?
The extended lockdown in Melbourne in 2020 was an opportunity for people to slow down, reflect and take pleasure in the world around them. For me it was a chance to think about why I started Farn, what I want the brand to stand for and how to establish those values as the business grows. I was beginning to notice that the words ‘ethical’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘considered’ were being used more frequently by fashion brands but they were not being held accountable to what this really meant. Being accredited by ECA was a way for Farn to establish authenticity around my values on ethical manufacturing. Accreditation meant ‘ethical’ wasn’t just a word used to describe how I preferred to work, it became the foundation of how I work and continue to evolve my business to make better decisions.
”ECA Accreditation meant ‘ethical’ wasn’t just a word used to describe how I preferred to work, it became the foundation of how I work and continue to evolve my business to make better decisions.
This month we are spotlighting the many hands that go into making a garment locally and ethically. ECA’s accreditation program maps a business and their supply chain. Can you tell us about the workers in the Farn supply chain from design to dispatch?
I work very closely with everyone who contributes to the production of Farn garments. I treasure every relationship and consider Farn a collaboration with everyone in my supply chain. I design all the garments and prints in Farn ranges and work with a local patternmaker who brings my sketches and ‘specs’ to reality with paper patterns. I used to do all the patternmaking myself in the beginning but through word of mouth I found Helen who has been working with small and large Melbourne businesses for decades.
In my four years of business, I’ve found the Melbourne creative community to be incredibly open and generous in sharing information, experiences and contacts, I couldn’t imagine my business operating anywhere else!
I generally design prints and products at the same time and during lockdown when everything was closed I had to problem solve how I was going to get my designs on screen. I ended up hand-painting each of my screen separations separately on gaff film, which took a few days to complete but was a great learning experience on manual separations.
My designs are then exposed onto yardage screens using photo sensitive emulsion that reacts to lights that etches your design onto screen. I work closely with Nadia and Jason who print my designs onto fabric.
My printers studio is just a ten-minute bike ride from my studio so it’s always easy to pop down to check colour strike offs or collect fabric rolls. I cut all samples and production in my studio in Fitzroy and sampling is either handled by myself or one of my two makers who will be making final production. I fit and amend all sampling in-house before I pass the finished patterns to Holly who also has a studio across the road from me, where she works on her own label and helps me out with sizing.
Once fabric is ready and patterns are available in their full-size range, I cut everything before passing to Neroli who works from her studio in Brunswick or I drop the rolls and patterns off to Vanessa who works from her studio in Heidelberg. I generally only cut and produce 2-3 of each size in my first production run, only recutting when sizes have sold through. Luckily, I also work with small makers who don’t have MOQ’s so I can be quite reactive and rarely have stock left over.
How many hands are involved in the making of one Farn garment? Can you explain the process from initial design to final garment?
I’m going to use the sleeveless midi dress as an example as this sold-out in my first production run and I am about to start the recut. There’s five people who individually contribute to the production of this dress. First the fabric is printed, this dress has four colours, and each colour is printed separately with a different screen. It’s quite a magical process to witness as you slowly see each colour printed and the final print is only revealed with the last screen. The fabric is then heat cured, setting the printing pigment to the fabric. I then take the roll up the road to my studio and begin cutting the dresses. Each dress uses around 3m of fabric so the 20m roll disappears quite quickly!
The patterns of this dress were made by Helen and the sizes were graded by Holly. Once cut, I bundle each size up along with labels, threads and production sample and take them to Neroli who sews each dress from her studio in Brunswick. 1-2 weeks later I collect the dresses, take them to my studio for a final press before they go online!
”Humans are naturally empathetic creatures so if we’re forced to face the harsh reality of these conditions we would (most of the time) be less-likely to support brands that are stripping away the humanity to make room for high volume, low-cost ranges.
ECA is continually educating the general public about the importance of shopping ethically and locally, as a smaller Australian brand why is it important that shoppers consider who made their clothes when purchasing?
Education is so important in knowing where our clothes were made and the conditions they were made in. Humans are naturally empathetic creatures so if we’re forced to face the harsh reality of these conditions we would (most of the time) be less-likely to support brands that are stripping away the humanity to make room for high volume, low-cost ranges. By purchasing locally and from brands accredited by ECA you know you’re supporting businesses that are doing the right thing and by wearing our garments you are an advocate yourself.
I encourage everyone to make one item of clothing to understand the true cost, you’ll be surprised at how much the raw materials cost alone without even considering the time it took you to make it. How much is your time worth?
100% of Farn’s products are proudly made in Australia and accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia.