Photo by Terry Russell
Thanks to the commitment and passion of a select number of fashion-forward individuals and organisations, an Ethical Fashion Evening was born. Hosted by QLD Fair Trade Collective and sponsored by Peppermint Magazine held at The Stitchery in Fortitude Valley, I was fortunate enough to have been present and to have had the opportunity to listen to some of the most socially thoughtful and inspiring talks ever to be held during a fashion evening.
I listened to Peppermint magazine founder Ben McGill describe his journey as fashion designer in the maze of a fast-fashion explosion only to renounce this world and launch a publication that mirrored his ethical and eco fashion ethos. I was inspired by Paula Jones, the Industry Liaison to the Council of Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia and co-founder chairperson of Fair Traders of Australia, who provided well-rounded information of the burgeoning ethical fashion trade in Australia.
But the highlight of my evening was meeting Cecilia Granadino, the CEO of MINKA, a Peruvian company specialising in knitted clothing made from alpaca wool (more precisely, alpaca hair). I gained insight to her culture (“we Peruvians are practical and had to learn this thing you in the West call ‘fashion’ “), her smile was contagious and so was her upbeat bubbly personality (which hid a quiet wisdom derived only from a woman who has witnessed oppression and injustice). Cecilia, through her fair trade business, has been able to enrich the lives of her workers, many of whom are women in the highlands of Peru. In just a few hours, she made me laugh, she made me (almost) cry but most of all, she made me think.
So when I wake up in the morning, I know I can make a difference in the world simply by what I choose to wear. And you can too. Whether it be a vintage silk dress from the local op-shop. A fair trade hemp bag purchased from your local Oxfam store. Or even a MINKA scarf, ethically made by a community of Peruvian women using organic alpaca wool 🙂