Have you ever stopped to think, “Who made this outfit I’m about to purchase for this weekend (and likely only wear once) or the fashion piece you picked up from a chain retailer?” Unfortunately when it comes to fast fashion manufacturing there’s a lack of ethical standards and a horrific environmental impact, but this is what urged the Adelaide three girls behind From Found to establish their creative, ethical and sustainable clothing label.
The label is the creation of three women – sisters Lauren Bonnet and Annie Graetz, and their family friend Hannah Materne – who have collective experience in the fashion industry along with marketing, social work, human resources and business management.
While working in community development and having friends from refugee background, Lauren noticed the challenges women in particular faced when entering the workforce but also realised their strengths in sewing and creativity. This is where the initial idea of creating a fashion label that ethically employed these women as garment workers in Adelaide and used “found”, recovered and recycled textiles stemmed from.
From Found’s philosophy is to bring creative, ethical and sustainable clothing to the mainstream fashion market through the employment of refugee and asylum seeker women.
“We hope to see these women, empowered with further skills and training, to transition into the mainstream workforce in Australia, and to educate and inspire consumers to choose sustainable and ethical fashion,” Hannah says.
They plan on seeking remnants of fabric from never completed projects, leftovers from collections or old clothing that’s made with good quality fabrics – Hannah says sourcing these found fabrics is “a labour of love”.
You can expect their pieces to be truly one-of-a-kind and full of colour and creativity. Hannah says the brand is for “the groovers who like to stand out from the crowd and stand up for what they believe”.
To get things going with the not-for-profit label, the girls are preparing for a crowd funder campaign through Start Some Good – a crowd-funding platform exclusively for social change initiatives. This is so they can raise funds to purchase equipment and pay the initial wages of their garment workers before opening their workshop this July.
They’ll be employing these seamstresses with the help of the Australian Refugee Associations, and Hannah adds that they already have inspiring women involved in From Found, including their strong, pioneering board member Mardiya.
Hannah explains how Mardiya is orginally from Iraq and her story shows how important it is to help empower women so they can thrive in a new country.
“In 2009, she started studying at university, despite many saying she would not be able to complete a semester let alone four years,” Hannah says. “She worked incredibly hard, through language barriers and family commitments, to gain her degree in Social Work and through this inspired many other women of refugee backgrounds to undertake further study or seek out employment.
“She bravely demonstrated what a woman could do if given the opportunity, and empowered others to do the same.”
The From Found team hope their label will allow them to be leaders in the slow fashion movement and see other brands actively work towards reducing their environmental impact by not contributing to the already huge amount of existing waste and instead using recovered textiles, organic fabrics and natural dyes.
“We also want to consumers to stand up for what they believe, shop consciously and challenge brands about their practices,” Hannah says.
They’ve just received the digital and film shots from their first shoot where photographer, and environmentalist, Issie Hume captured Mia Gaynor donning their pieces of mismatched patterns with the natural beauty backdrop of SA’s Port Willunga beach at sunrise.
“As our brand revolves around female empowerment, it was important for us that the right women were involved [in the photo shoot], who believe in our brand values but also embody the creativity and fun of our designs.”
We can all get our own piece of From Found when their online store launches with its first collection in October and you’ll also see them around the place at local design markets in Adelaide. If you’re keen on getting behind this empowering, local initiative, follow From Found on their social channels and keep your eye out for their upcoming crowd funding campaign.