RANT Clothing is a company producing 100% Australian made and designed clothing that is breaking the chain of fast fashion. Sustainable and ethical design is at the centre of their ethos as they strive to create garments with a considered approach. All workers are paid fairly and often work locally to produce high quality fabric and clothes. For RANT slow and sustainable fashion is an expansion on other sustainable practices that have begun to change the way people see the world and live their lives. Recently, a representative from RANT was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the brand’s relationship with sustainable fashion and how the movement is changing the fashion world.
What do you believe is important about the sustainable and ethical fashion movement?
Sustainable Fashion is playing its part in a more general move towards restoring fairness in our global economy. For too long big corporations have reaped large profits while destroying our natural environment and enslaving poor communities into producing disposable products as cheaply as possible.
How do you think sustainable fashion has the potential to transform the fashion industry? Do you think this is something that could realistically happen?
The very fact that people are interested and discussing alternatives to fast fashion is the first step to realistically transforming the fashion industry. The more consumers think about and discuss the impact that their purchases have on people and the environment, the bigger the impact and the potential to transform our industry. So with continued education, discussion and financial pressure on big companies to change, the possibility of cleaning up fashion is definitely achievable.
“Sustainable fashion means looking at the entire lifecycle of a product. It starts with using quality material and designing with longevity in mind, rather than obsolescence.”
What does sustainable fashion mean to you?
Sustainable fashion means looking at the entire lifecycle of a product. It starts with using quality material and designing with longevity in mind, rather than obsolescence. Producing locally is also a huge part of what sustainable fashion means to us, valuing the skills required to make a garment by paying Australian wages (many fold higher than overseas manufacturing). This means that every seam is considered in detail because of the much higher price we pay for sewing, which in turn minimises the resources used but also the distance travelled by a garment before arriving to the customer. We also work with the Australian knitting mills, not only buying their locally made fabric, but repurposing some fabric that may be faulty through uneven dyeing etc. So we design prints to give these fabrics a new life.
What is your process for creating clothes, and how does this process reflect the slow and sustainable fashion movement?
We are not trend driven so we have ongoing styles and classic shapes that we continue to produce after a number of years. This is very different to the fast fashion cycle, with involves a much shorter lifetime for a style (around 6 weeks). Using fabrics that are high quality helps our customers to enjoy their garments for a much longer time as well. We still inject new styles and prints to create new collections, and Sarah always starts designing with a fabric in mind first. Our styles all mix and match easily, with colours blending between collections so customers can give new life to their garments from previous collections easily also.
“In terms of fibres used, one of the main reasons for beginning BESTOWED was to create a naturally vegan-friendly range with a focus on organics, with the majority of our Australian made knits being GOTS (global organic textile standard) certified, which covers the dye used in manufacturing also.”
How are you making sustainable fashion an accessible movement?
We spend an increasing amount of time responding to enquiries about how to best care for garments, as well as writing blog stories to help people maximise the life of their garments. Our customers sometimes ask advice on how to repair their garments if they have damaged them, so will help as much as we can with these sort of enquiries too. We began a second label called BESTOWED Clothing, which is a more casual range and extends our minimalist design approach, though is still 100% made in Australia. The design and fabrication help this label be more competitive pricewise for wider appeal, though is made using all pure cotton, mostly certified organic cotton that is milled in Melbourne. We find this is appealing to a slightly younger market and is naturally vegan friendly (RANT uses a small amount of ethical wool and silk). So I guess BESTOWED was created to fill an ethical niche in the market with a focus on organics and continuing to educate customers on caring for their garments to maximise longevity that was started with RANT.
One of your main focuses is on ethical practices surrounding fashion. How does Rant utilize ethical and inclusive practices?
The main ethical practices we focus on are the conditions our sewers work in. With all our production taking place within 30km of our home studio, all the sewers are similar to us in that they work from home so they can spend time with their families when needed, take holidays when they like and enjoy all the benefits that working in Australia bring (higher wages and superannuation for example). In terms of fibres used, one of the main reasons for beginning BESTOWED was to create a naturally vegan-friendly range with a focus on organics, with the majority of our Australian made knits being GOTS (global organic textile standard) certified, which covers the dye used in manufacturing also. Our high quality bamboo and wool jerseys we used for RANT and also made in Australia.
What benefits come with wearing and creating ethical fashion?
I think from the feedback we have received from customers over the years it is that once they start looking into making better choices with clothing it can often have a flow on effect into their lifestyle. It is the feel good factor that some enjoy, but other customers may already interested in the slow food movement so clothing is a natural progression, or similarly some are yoga or pilates teachers so looking for healthier fibre choices for the clothing. We are also hearing from customers who have suffered skin allergies from the chemicals in synthetic fabrics who are excited to be able to buy clothes again and feel confident they will be safe with their choices. This is because many of our garments are prewashed in harvested rainwater (all our cotton garments in particular are prewashed at our home studio) and we use high quality natural fibres. One interesting note on synthetic fibres is recent research showing that the washing of synthetic fibres is contributing to the plastic pollution accumulating in our ocean. The threads shedding from a garment during its washing and the extremely long time these fibres take to break down unlike natural fibres, so the benefits of creating sustainable fashion are increasing.
Why is ethical fashion in particular such an integral part of the sustainable fashion movement for you?
I don’t think you can really separate ethics in sustainability as they go hand in hand. Ethics really comes down to making choices that consider the impacts on other humans and the environment, rather than just money. There is the obvious balance as you need to have a viable business, though we believe you can have a successful business that is not solely profit driven and there are many great examples of brands we see achieving this (Toms Shoes is just one example that comes to mind).
You focus on the entire process of making and owning a garment rather than just the garment itself. Why is it so important that sustainability is reflected in the process of making, producing and owning a garment?
It is important for everyone to have responsibility for the part they play in the impact a garments makes. We are seeing lots of great information coming out to help inform these choices, including the water and energy useage of different fibres, though it seems the biggest impact over the lifetime of a garment is actually how the customer washes their garment. So as much as we try to minimise waste and make smart choices with fabrics etc, like all aspects of sustainability really, it comes down to the everyday choices we make as individuals when purchasing products. Caring for your garments correctly is the best thing to reduce the amount of clothing that is going to landfill.