The Aussie Designer Embracing Life in the Slow Fashion Lane

Sustainable Australian Fashion Slow Fashion By Freer
Marie-Antoinette Issa

Lifestyle Editor

May 03, 2024

From farm-to-fork feasts to thoughtful travel, the mindful living movement continues to gain momentum. With slow fashion among the fastest growing examples to prioritse sustainability, ethics and conscious consumption. With its emphasisis on transparency, quality over quantity, ethical labour practice, eco-friendly materials and longevity (all while aiming to educate consumers about the impact of their purchasing decisions on both the environment and the economy) a growing number of Aussie creatives are seeking to make their mark in the industry.

Among them is Lesley Watson. The Co-Founder and Creative Director of byfreer, a sustainable Australian fashion brand, that’s particularly passionate about embracing “life in the slow fashion lane.” With a career spanning over 40 years, Lesley’s journey is a testament to her commitment to creating clothing that transcends trends. And, instead focuses on timeless elegance and sustainability.

It all started in 2014 with a single luxurious silk tee, Lesley’s first design under the byfreer label. This inaugural piece marked the beginning of a revolution in everyday clothing, where style met opulent fabric. Today, Lesley’s approach to design continues to be uniquely unstructured. Driven by a passion for creating clothes that not only look good but also serve a purpose and solve problems. For Lesley, designing is about practical creativity. Because, “at the end of the day, people have to wear clothes,” she says.

Central to the ethos of byfreer is the commitment to Australian manufacturing. Collaborating with local makers Lesley ensures that every garment by byfreer is designed in Paddington and made in Sydney. This supports the community and also ensures that the brand maintains control over the quality and sustainability of its products.

Sustainable Australian Fashion Slow Fashion By Freer

Over the years, byfreer has evolved into more than just a fashion brand; it’s a movement towards slow, sustainable fashion. Lesley’s designs continue to be inspired by organic and soft textiles. That feature natural finishes, raw edges and distinctive stitching to embody a gracefully rugged aesthetic. Her small team meticulously craft each piece to stand the test of time. Offering an enduring appeal that transcends seasons and trends.

In an industry dominated by luxury conglomerates and fast-fashion brands, Lesley’s deep understanding of aesthetics, coupled with her unwavering commitment to sustainability, sets byfreer apart. With two boutiques in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, the brand remains steadfast in its commitment to small-scale and sustainable production values.

Ultimately, for Lesley, fashion is not just about looking good; it’s about feeling good and making responsible choices. By prioritising ethical production practices and creating clothing that celebrates the beauty of imperfection, byfreer is paving the way for a more sustainable future in fashion. One slowly-yet-stylishly crafted garment at a time.


By Marie-Antoinette Issa

Lifestyle Editor

Marie-Antoinette Issa is the Lifestyle Editor for The Carousel and Women Love Tech. She has worked across news and women's lifestyle magazines and websites including Cosmopolitan, Cleo, Madison, Concrete Playground, The Urban List and Daily Mail, I Quit Sugar and Huffington Post.



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