Who Made My Clothes?
Every garment has a story. More than likely, it was made by a particular worker in a particular factory somewhere across the globe. But by who? And where? These are the questions a number of ethically conscious brands are encouraging consumers to ask.
For decades, many of us have taken for granted that our clothes appear on racks and are readily available for purchase in store and online. Fast fashion and current trends are at our finger tips and we all have certain expectations in regards to the quality. But what about expectations in regards to the environment they were manufactured made in? Would the desire to purchase a particular item still remain if people knew the truth about where and how it had been manufactured?
Organic Crew evolved from passion and purpose. A passion to educate others on the importance of making ethical choices and a purpose to make a difference somewhere and somehow. It is our mission to encourage people to ask the question “who made my clothes?” and “where did they come from?”. With education and knowledge comes great power and we are committed to sharing our story with as many people as possible.
We have taken the time, done our research and manufacture our garments in accordance with the highest of ethical standards. We refuse to compromise on quality and believe it is possible to enjoy luxury without compromising the people or the planet. We source our 100% organic certified cotton from India and it is then sent to Melbourne to be milled and sewn into our garments.
With this in mind, we are delighted to share images with you from a recent visit we made to our factory in Coburg, Melbourne. Below, we introduce you to the people who create the real magic for Organic Crew and the ones we value so highly.
David (pictured below), is the factory manager and the third generation of family who have worked in the factory now owned by his parents. David has memories of playing in the factory from the age of 10!
Filiz (pictured with David), has worked at the factory for 22 years! Filiz is (lovingly) hand sewing our striped lounging around pant.
Organic Crew has also recently been accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia, an accreditation body working collaboratively with local textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) companies to ensure their Australian supply chains are transparent and legally compliant. We couldn’t be prouder to have obtained this high level of accreditation.
Clean Coast Collective x Organic Crew
Harmony with nature, combined with human health and respect for the planet is one of the philosophies of Organic Crew. We are passionate about making a difference and prioritise collaborating with those who have aligned beliefs and share the same vision.
When the opportunity came for Organic Crew to partner with the Clean Coast Collective for their signature conservation project, it was an opportunity that we were beyond excited to work together on.
Every year, the Clean Coast Collective take a group of creative and inspiring Australians known as the ‘Trash Tribe’ on journeys to clean up some of Australia’s most polluted beaches. This year, the Trash Tribe have ventured to the Cape York Peninsula on a mission to remove over 3.1 tonnes of coastal pollution from Chilli Beach.
Once the Trash Tribe have completed their week-long journey, it is their mission to share the experience with the community and spread the message of ocean pollution and plastic waste far and wide.
Australian beaches are continually compromised by the astronomical amount of rubbish dumped in the ocean and surrounding areas, causing devastating detriment to the marine life and water quality. The main culprits are plastic bags, bottles and debris which take up to 400 years to breakdown.
This year’s Chilli Beach Trash Tribe includes:
Georgia, Brisbane – Economics Masters student
Matthew, Brisbane – Intrepid Landcare Leader
Steph, Sunshine Coast – Founder of eco-swimwear label, Oceanzen
Luke, Gold Coast – Graphic Designer
Caitlin, Central Coast NSW – Teacher
Libby, South Coast NSW – Founder of Boomerang Bags Eurobodalla branch
Jemma, Perth – Photographer
Mish, Byron Bay – Photographer
Portia, Sydney – Musician
Harriet, Sydney – Graphic Designer
Organic Crew was fortunate enough to provide the Trash Tribe with custom printed organic cotton tees for the project as well as be a key partner for the cause. We are immensely proud to be part of a movement that represents passion, purpose and education.
We believe small change can make a big difference and it is our mission to continually empower and educate others on the importance of protecting our beautiful planet. We will be sharing more of the experience of the Trash Tribe once they have returned from Chilli Beach.
In the meantime, to learn more about the Trash Tribe and their conservation initiatives, please head to the website: cleancoastcollective.org/
Organic Crew was featured on The Green Hub, the ultimate online resource for smart, stylish eco-conscious urbanites.
LOCALLY MADE ORGANIC CLOTHING AT ITS BEST
Lounging around in a certified organic tee and slacks on a lazy Sunday morning has never looked, or sounded, so good. And you can thank Organic Crew for that.
Their range of on-trend women’s luxury lounge basics comes at a time when we could almost declare Australian clothing manufacturing as a ghost of garments past. But alas, Organic Crew have resurrected hope that the local manufacturing scene is far from dead.
Using certified organic cotton, and manufactured right at home in Melbourne, it doesn’t come much more local than the likes of Organic Crew.
Organic Crew came about very, well, organically.
The two founders’, Mel Lechte and Bannie Williams, paths crossed while working for an organic cold pressed juice company.
Bannie recounts their story, “Mel was the Director of an organic cold pressed juice company and hired me to be their nutritionist. We had so many aligned passions and philosophies, we hit it off immediately. After Mel left the company to pursue the Organic Crew dream, I followed and we partnered.”
For too long, as consumers, we have been protected from witnessing the harmful side effects of our clothing addictions.
She continues, “The fast fashion industry is heavily saturated. Yet many people are unaware of the detrimental effect these garments have on the environment. Not to forget to mention the people who manufacture them too. Cheap clothing and their by-products pollute water and soil, as well as contribute to a devastating number of negative health outcomes. Not only is the garment quality poor, but it would no doubt have a cost to someone’s life, somewhere.”
Change can only come as more consumers are made aware of the reality of fast fashion. In turn, they will be able to make more educated and informed decisions about where they purchase their clothing from.
BEING THE DIFFERENCE
As daily challenges crop up in the running a new business, their inception has nonetheless been positive. Careful not to get swept up in the surreal experience of a successful launch, the ladies are keeping their feet firmly on the ground by reminding themselves of their intentions. It’s this passion to make a difference that keeps them grounded and focused.
Bannie explains, “We started Organic Crew because we believe it is possible to enjoy luxury, without compromising the environment or people in the process.”
Following the wise words of John Bell, Organic Crew encourages you to join the movement and to “Be informed, Be Involved and Make a Difference.”
Our Director Mel was recently interviewed for est. Read the full interview below.
Mel Lechte is the type of woman who makes you genuinely inspired to lead a more conscious, ethical lifestyle. As a mum, a business owner and the co-founder of Melbourne-based apparel brand Organic Crew, Mel is a proponent for making better choices in everyday living, and with her locally and ethically-made collection of basics she has made it easy for others to do so.
We chatted to Mel about her journey in bringing Organic Crew to life, ethical choices and what makes living on the Mornington Peninsula special.
Where did the idea for Organic Crew first come, and what led you to decide to pursue it?
A few years ago I launched an organic juice brand and saw the movement towards organic in food and then skincare. The natural progression for me was apparel that is less toxic and mindfully manufactured; we wanted to create a brand that cares for the planet and the people.
How has being a mother influenced your values as a small business owner, and in your pursuit of creating a product that is organic and ethically-produced?
Being ethical is so important to me, especially after having children. In previous businesses I had seen children working in sweat shops in parts of Asia, which upset me. I manufacture in Melbourne and can visit my factory at anytime so I feel completely confident in the ethics of what we are doing. Being organic is kinder on your body and reduces the intake of harmful chemicals that stay on clothing for years.
How does the production of one of your pieces differ from a conventionally, mass-produced equivalent?
The main difference is the use of chemicals in the production of cotton when not organic. These chemicals not only damage the environment (it's the second largest polluter globally) but also harm the workers that handle the materials and will also be absorbed into the skin of those that wear the garments. I had no idea when I started out that these chemicals absorb into the skin years later! The skin is the largest organ in the human body, it makes sense to wear organic. The other difference is the true cost of these mass produced items. When produced and sold at such a low cost, someone is suffering. We choose to produce ethically and our pricing reflects the true cost of quality, locally produced clothing.
Who are some other people or businesses that inspire you (international or local) in driving positive change?
Internationally I love what Emma Watson and Leonardo DiCaprio are doing to increase environmental awareness. I also really admire Stella McCartney who has created a monumentally successful brand that has ethics, always. Locally I love spending time with Aimee Marks who created TOM Organic, she is a pioneer in the organic space and a lovely, inspiring human!
Drawing from your business mantra of 'being informed, be involved and making a difference', what are some other ways consumers can drive change and make a difference in their everyday choices/purchases?
I like to think always using the 80/20 rule and making a small difference where you can. Start by changing some food choices from mass produced processed food to more unprocessed, organic options. In this way, you are reducing your daily intake of chemicals. This adds up and makes a difference to your health and wellbeing. Organic really should be the norm and using chemicals in foods and clothing the very uncool option!
Mel's guide to the Mornington Peninsula:
Where do you live in Melbourne and what do you love most about it?
I have just moved to a place called Mount Martha on the Mornington Peninsula. I absolutely adore being by the water. I feel like I am on a permanent holiday - It’s very relaxed, no traffic battles and I have all I need here. Life is great!
Favourite place to eat:
The wineries nearby in Red Hill or I’ll go to Volpino for a great gluten-free pizza.
Favourite place to drink:
Store 15 in Mornington for great coffee, amazing juices and stunning healthy food.
Favourite places to shop:
There is a new concept store in Mornington called Spa Co which has great clothing brands (including ours) and homewares, plus a cafe where I can grab a delicious juice or salad. The IGA in Dromana is a MUST too for grocery shopping. I have never seen a concept like this in Australia. It's quite theatrical - the way the shopping experience should be!
My walk along the beach track is my daily ritual that I will not miss! I take my dog Maggie and breathe in the salty air, I feel so lucky to live here. When you live down here a place like Tully's is a delight. It's like old school shopping in a big barn! Tully's has several different little businesses which offer amazing fresh produce, a juice bar, a cafe with great coffee and a florist to die for.