Shroud The Label was founded by Aussie designer Jessica Kite in early 2017 as part of her graduating collection from Sydney’s leading fashion institution The Fashion Design Studio. The collection is a glorious pastel wonderland of structured whimsy and disruptive silhouettes. Shroud’s unique designs defy the minimalistic and monochromatic trend of classic capsule wardrobe styling, a direction the industry has been cruise-controlling down for many years. The brand recently made an appearance on the runway at Australia’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week earlier this year and having discovered the designer’s interest in sustainability, I wanted to press Kite further about her label.
Kite launched her fashion brand with the intent on being at least 65 percent ethically and sustainably driven after being inspired by conscious fashion pioneer Stella McCartney. As many emerging designers can relate to, achieving this has been a challenge.
“I found [it] to be an incredible struggle,” acknowledges the designer. “This was due to the lack of information, the lack of local sustainable fabric distributors, the cost and the constant fight between my big ideas and allowing the design to still be realised sustainably.”
The financial demands of establishing a label is a reoccurring roadblock for many designers, but a sustainability-focused brand faces even more uphill pressures, in the higher cost of textiles and the sheer number of resources required to create fashion responsibly; from the fair labour, research time and weighing social impacts, sustainability and ethics.
“The sourcing side is the part I particularly struggled with,” Kite explains. “I would be up at early hours of the morning scouring through Google in search of sustainable textile manufacturers.”
Fabric minimum quantities also cause a hiccup with fashion brands, with textile companies unwilling to be flexible with their minimum quantities of 1000 metre, a huge outlay in the initial stages of a label when financial resources are already stressed to its limits.
Despite the challenges, Kite is determined to create an eco-conscious label for forward and future thinkers, those who protest and challenge current political, environmental and fashion-related issues. Giving birth to romantic modernity and protest, Shroud The Label conveys satirical contradiction of societal norms visually presented in a manner of severe proportion manipulation.
“Through any story I create, I always begin with an issue in our societal structure; for example, in this collection, I aimed to highlight the growing segregation between the wealthy and the disadvantaged. This notion is then dramatically shown through the pieces or layering thereof.”
The range is a unique mixture of wardrobe must-haves and wearable art, turning to a slow-fashion non-trend driven manifesto, purposely limiting the production run of garments is evidence of affirmative action centred on the belief that slowing down the desire for consumption is the essential way forward. Kite continues to choose sustainable textiles where possible and focusses on waste reduction and manufacturing locally in Sydney. In this way, human impact is observed and carbon emissions are controlled and monitored by the designer.
On moving forward with her label, Kite says, “I am hoping to work with great designers practising sustainable design for the next few years. Then, when I feel I am comfortable with the knowledge I have obtained, I hope to branch out and join the faces of sustainability by reintroducing Shroud The Label to its former glory.”
It’s understood we need not another natural fibre basics ethical brand, but what we do need are sustainable designs that push our fashion imagination forward, that enable us to act out our art and helps us express ourselves creatively rather than uniformly; because after all, fashion is a medium of artistic expression and in it we find our sense of individualism.
Now if designers continue to demand and share interests in sustainability with suppliers, it will increasingly become the norm and barriers to eco-friendly supplies will be diminished. If we want to build a sustainable fashion model that empowers our emerging designers, then conscious fashion enthusiasts and industry experts should lend their support to ensure that our next wave of fashion talent are able to flourish and continue their work in fighting for fashion ethics and design integrity, and a better Australian fashion industry generally.
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Title photo by Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images