I meet some interesting people in the ethical fashion space.
Some are rebels in that badass I-don’t-give-a-flying-f@#$ kind of way.
There are others that are all “look at me, look at me, look at me.”
There are those who actually identify as hippie; all peace, love, and vegetables.
And then there’s Megan O’Malley, one of the coolest chicks I’ve encountered on this ethical fashion adventure of mine. Megan describes herself as a dork. I’d call her quirky. If she were an actress I’d cast her in a role playing the sweet nerd girl in an indie film. Oops, getting off topic.
Anyway, I met Megan in 2013 whilst volunteering for a non-profit ethical fashion organisation based in Europe known as The Future Threads Project. While many of the members were based in Europe and in the USA, Megan, like me, lived in Melbourne, Australia. Megan, an ex-professional dancer, owned a cute (and short lived) online business called Rex Loves Vintage while simultaneously completing a uni degree. (Megan’s quirkiness was evident from the very beginning. Rex was the name of the green dinosaur figure that she appointed as her vintage shop’s mascot).
Fast forward to today and Megan is now a researcher at JUST, a platform that helps consumers make better shopping decisions by providing a range of information on fashion companies and brands with regards to ethics, sustainability and supply chain transparency. Megan has been involved in the research of each of the 60+ fashion brands currently on the JUST platform.
A massive effort indeed, but one that pales in comparison to Megan’s next ethical fashion challenge: Walk Sew Good.
Walking with purpose
After reading an article in Dumbo Feather magazine about Satish Kumar, an Indian activist who trekked 13,000kms to raise awareness of nuclear disarmament, Megan became inspired and thought: I could do the same for sustainable and ethical fashion.
“Most people are aware there are awful practices in the fashion industry today. Mass exploitation of people and natural resources are happening at extreme levels in the fashion supply chain. The problem is, people feel disempowered to do anything about it. They don’t know where to start,” says Megan.
People often question what they’re doing with their lives but most people don’t take action to find life’s meaning. Megan is not like most people. She got to thinking about walking with fashion purpose and the more she thought about it, the more convinced she was that her crazy plan could work. But which of her friends would be crazy enough to join her?
The walk would be excruciating enough without a drag of a friend dragging her down. Megan knew she’d ask Gabrielle Murphy (Gab), a woman who knows little about fashion but has a great sense of humour and a big heart. They met as undergraduates, both studying Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) at RMIT. One view of their nutty YouTube video and I could see why Megan chose Gab as her walking buddy. Together the pair of them are hilarious. Each time I watch the video I crack up laughing.
Now this zany pair who’ve dubbed themselves Walk Sew Good will be embarking on a one year walk throughout Southeast Asia – Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand. The aim of their travels is to interview, speak and learn from the people that are making fashion in a positive and responsible way. The keyword here is positive. They aren’t looking to explore the negative impacts of fashion on communities and the environment a la The True Cost. They want to focus on the determination, stories and the spirit of the people who make our clothes. More about hope. Less about heartache.
“We don’t want people to feel helpless or make them feel guilty. There’s enough of the negative stories already. We want to show the positive side of fashion to inspire people to make better choices and celebrate the work that some people are doing. That’s what this walk is all about,” explains Megan.
The women will also be filming the journey so that they can share these stories with us via YouTube. By the looks of their crowdfunding video, I’m betting the ensuing YouTube series will have the same comedic vibe.
“We want to connect people with the stories of those working hard to create fashion in a sustainable and beautiful way. The aim of Walk Sew Good is to start a conversation with our followers and show them how they can support a fashion industry that has a positive impact,” adds Gab.
This project is a massive undertaking requiring equal parts of faith and grit. But they can’t do it on their own. The women also need our help. They’ve launched Walk Sew Good as a crowdfunding project and need to raise $9833 if they are to set on their sustainable fashion adventure in October.
With only 9 days left and another $4,589 to reach their campaign goal, let’s help them get there!
If you’re keen to help Megan and Gab, please donate what you can to their crowdfunding campaign pozi.be/walksewgood and make sure to share it with everyone you know.
And if their story inspires YOU to commit a random act of bravery in the name of sustainable fashion, I’d love to hear about it, so please leave a comment below.