Australian Fashion has shifted to local manufacturing in the past year, seeing local new and emerging designers strengthening our economy. If you check the care label on the inside of your clothing, you might notice most of your clothing is made in a country other than where you are residing. In Australia, the boost of the 21st century meant that many Australian fashion brands moved their manufacturing offshore, in search for competitive pricing and fast turnarounds.
But now, we are beginning to see a shift back to local manufacturing with a reported 11.1 percent decrease in overseas production in the last year. Homemade Australia fashion is picking up again, with many new and emerging designers looking to make on home turf instead.
We spoke to local designer Courtney Noble of Noble Label about her experience with manufacturing Australian fashion in her home city of Sydney. Noble Label has a sustainability-first mindset, with making local an integral part of that process.
Have You Seen More Australian Fashion Brands Returning To Making Locally?
We have noticed a growing demand for brands and designers looking for local manufacturers, for sure. When we started Noble a few years ago, our fabric cutter would tell us how much business had slowed down for him. He used to have a booming business in the eighties and nineties, but then everyone began moving their production offshore. But over the last year he has been completely flat out again with new Australian fashion brands looking for local production.
Why Did You Decide To Make Locally?
For us at Noble, making locally was a natural part of the process. We wanted to have a business that emphasised a strong relationship with our makers. Being able to talk with them face to face, knowing their families and day-to-day lives is a really important part of the process. It also ensures that any hand that helps in the making of Noble is paid properly and working conditions aren’t compromised to get product out the door. As emerging designers, we have a lot to learn, so being on the ground with our makers helps us refine our production process without making costly mistakes.
Is It More Sustainable To Make Locally?
Producing locally means we don’t need big order quantities that most overseas manufacturers need. We only make what we need and if we sell out of a product quickly, we can then go back and produce another small batch.
It has also reduced our carbon footprint and allows us to implement small-impact measures, like not individually wrapping products in plastic. We are also able to salvage our fabric off-cuts and turn them into smaller products like scrunchies and tote bags so nothing gets wasted.
What are the pros and cons of manufacturing Australian fashion locally?
While there are many pros to producing locally, there are so many skills and crafts that come from artisans overseas such as embroidery, weaving and hand-looming that we can’t forget about. We believe in the balance of global and local production so that artisanal skills and techniques aren’t neglected and smaller communities with these crafts can thrive.
Local manufacturers can also be difficult to find. We are fortunate to be able to make our clothing in a bustling Sydney hub of manufacturers and suppliers.
Do you think local manufacturing is the future of fashion?
I think, this past year in particular, we have seen a shift in the way customers shop. As online shopping increases, customers are able to have a more direct relationship with brands and are asking questions regarding the sustainability and practices that are carried out in the business.
We’ve seen how customers react when we post a photo of our makers at work or the deadstock fabric warehouses we visit. For us transparency is key, and our customers rely on us to be responsible, both socially and environmentally.
Manufacturing locally is a great way to access the kind of transparency customers are looking for.