‘Back to Nature’ is the theme for this years Royal Queensland Show’s (Ekka) fashion parades. Taking place between August 11 and 20, the parades are celebrating locally sourced fabrics and ethically produced clothing. They are showcasing the connection between farming and fashion, with a focus on Queensland-grown wool and cotton, along with leather, bamboo and silk.
Two prominent names in Australian fashion and contributors to the festival, designers Gail Sorronda and Julie Tengdahl are fierce advocates for sustainable fashion. They spoke to SheBrisbane about their passion for ethically produced clothing and supporting local Queensland businesses.
Julie Tengdahl has established her name amongst the few truly Australian-made luxury labels. Her founding philosophy for her brand is that a garments beauty lies in high quality fabrics.
Her commitment to sustainable fashion is seen in the way that everything is designed and manufactured in Queensland. “We also have a quick response manufacturing process so Tengdahl only produces what our clients need, so there no waste,” Julie said.
“To be honest I love working with all natural fibres, each have their own texture and sensitivity. They also have their challenges in producing the perfect design that will bring out the fibres natural beauty.”
Out of the five fabrics that are showcased in the event, Julie’s favourite was silk, “for its drape like qualities. The wearer truly feels special when putting on a silk garment.”
For people to become more aware of their clothing choices and to purchase more sustainable garments, Julie said that, “knowledge and education is the key, being mindful of our fashion purchases, their imprint on our environment and where the fabric and production originated. I also think looking after our environment is an evolution of our society, given the right choices the community really can make a difference.”
“It’s not always about how many items you can have in your wardrobe. Less is always more. We really have to look at what we need.”
To make sure you’re making the move to a more conscious closet, Julie said, “it’s important to look at the fabric content and where the garment is produced. Treat yourself to the pleasure of wearing a garment made with natural fibres and love.”
Gail Sorronda is another Brisbane based designer with a boutique currently in James Street, Fortitude Valley. Her dark and edgy designs have made waves in the fashion industry, with high profile designers such as Dolce and Gabbana and Karl Lagerfeld recognising her as one to watch.
In the importance of using natural fibres, Gail said, that “besides for sustainability reasons, natural fibres are great for the Queensland climate as the fabrics breathe and are more comfortable on the skin.”
“We support local businesses where we can. Our James Street boutique stocks local artisans including Paula Dunlop and our supplies are all sourced locally. Most of our sampling is done here in Brisbane and some of our production includes screen printing too.”
To convince more people to buy ethically produced clothing Gail said that the key is to, “encourage purchasing pieces that will continue through the seasons that tells an authentic story rather than trend based fast fashion that ends up in landfill.”
“Just like everything has a cycle, there will be a nostalgic return to niche fashion in rebellion to the mass produced.”