The journey to create sustainable and ethical fashion
When the concept of Flaxbloom first took root, I was determined to produce clothing that I could be proud of.
With no real prior knowledge, I began to delve into what makes a product ethical. I ended up in many fabric warehouses, in New Zealand and Asia, feeling weight and weave of fabric and asking lots of questions.
The point where I was bought back to earth was in a warehouse in Indonesia where I was shown “linen from Italy”. It felt beautiful and had *Made in Italy* woven into the selvedge. I was impressed until I realised the staff were laughing. When I asked what they were laughing at they admitted that the linen came from China but such labelling “was good for business”.
This was the point where I decided unless I saw it with my own eyes, not to believe anything I was told.
My immediate inclination was to find plant-based dye production and so began the search for origins of fabric.
We found a small NGO in Bali using natural dyes to dye fabric. They were dying in very basic concrete tubs but were providing training for women who had grown too old to work on construction sites.
I met the “chemist”, an older woman with knowledge of cultivating plants for dyes and how to process plant to fabric and she laid out the different colours of yarn and the plants she used.
We then went to a commercial natural plant dye house that produced large runs of fabric. The scale was impressive and too the colours.
This is part of the processing plant with the raw plants on the floor waiting to be broken down.
So began the journey into how to produce clothing.
The two workshops I work with pay their workers above award wages and provide medical care for them, their partners and up to three children. They have well-lit, well ventilated working areas and are happy places run as family concerns. I love being there!
It's not been an easy journey but it has certainly been a challenge and an adventure. And seeing the Flaxbloom brand grow and women loving what they buy makes it all worthwhile!