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I recently joined Mark Philpott, on his Global Business podcast, to discuss how COVID-19 has affected different businesses around the world.

Listen as I share going through the emotions, of denial through to panic, as fashion events are cancelled, orders put on hold and shops closing down worldwide. I also discuss the idea of sustainable fashion and what “Australian made” actually means.

Slip Dress design by Lucy Laurita

Looking at the bigger picture, I’m not alone. it’s not just our families, it’s the greater community, it’s the entire population of the world we are talking about and their safety.

I started my career with lots of boutiques open to the general public, before online shopping was even an option. Going through so many life changes such as online shopping closing stores, the Global Financial Crisis and becoming a new mum means I know I can cope. I know we will get through this as we are the sum total of our experiences.

I have found this downtime a chance to pause. A chance to invest in my education, learn new skills and look after my physical and mental health. A time to gain clarity and focus on what is important. A time to discover and embrace new opportunities. A time to find a support network. A time to try something new.

I worry about peoples mental health during this time. We must be actively doing something to feel connected to society and it is uncertain how long until life will resume as it was.

You have heard the saying ‘Think Big’ does it give you that get up & go feeling or does it overwhelm you? Tapping into your local niche and growing your brand audience at a sustainable pace is the way to gain small business longevity.

Now is the time to find a way to do what you love and connect with people. This is the time to believe in yourself and give it a go.

BUBBLE-GOWN dress design by Lucy Laurita
BIANCA-GOWN dress design by Lucy Laurita

The Australian fashion industry;
My letter to government

Proudly Australian Made – What does it actually mean?

Now is the time for Federal & State Governments to invest in our Artisans to create positive shifts for the future of Australian Made Fashion.

Show Australians and the world how they can safely buy Australian Boutique Fashion.

As a boutique designer for over 20 years, my focus is on small independent business.

I am the ‘creative’, making a living doing what I love, raising my family & making a positive impact on others with my voluntary work in humanitarian advocacy.

There are thousands of people just like me in Australia, running a small business with limited resources, forced to buy all materials produced in other parts of the world, to then cut and manufacture from our Australian studio’s  and state ‘Made In Australia’

The big issue is fabrics & trims.

Without fabric we can’t create the garment, fabric being one of our most needed commodities globally and yet one of our most toxic. Chemicals frequently used to make our clothes contain toxins, carcinogens, and hormone disruptors.

The fact is we cannot trace the full fibre content of the materials made in other countries. I tell anyone who’ll listen, WASH THE CLOTHES YOU BUY BEFORE YOU WEAR THEM.

In my business I specialise in exclusive event wear, I’m not making lower priced disposable fashion. I am using a higher quality fabric but still I often have fabrics washed before using them to create gowns for my clients.

So how does quality of fabrics & trims impact other related businesses in the clothing industry?

I reached out to ask a few reputable Australian Dry Cleaners for an opinion on what they have noticed in fabric quality over the years. See attached letters by Katrina at Royal Dry Cleaner WA, Denis at Ferrari Dry Cleaner Melbourne & Julie at Garran Dry Cleaner ACT

Have a read through the dry cleaners letters below. It will give you an understanding of their role in the whole fashion industry chain, the day to day challenges they are facing and the importance of investing in locally produced textiles, where the whole manufacturing process is traceable.  Oh & let’s not forget about the dangerous toxins we must eliminate.

My ideal outcome for the Australian Fashion Industry is to see real change made by Government. Focus on nurturing small businesses, not just through the eyes of the bigger brands. Yes there are well known brands now bringing back their garment manufacturing to Australia, but without locally produced toxic free materials such as fabrics & trims, we really are not moving in the direction of a sustainable future for the Australian Fashion Industry.

Is the answer adjusting import legislation? Now with a population of 24M+ people, is the Australian Government ready to re-invest in our textile industry and truly back the ‘Buy Australian Campaign’

Lucy Laurita

This is a one in a generation opportunity for the Australian government to support Australian fashion. The Australian fashion industry is amongst the best in the world but also is one of the least supported. Fashion wear often demonstrates much about a country. In many ways it shows national character. Well it’s time for all levels of government to support an industry which is at heart, vibrant, dynamic and rich. Our fashion Industry.

Anthony Byrne MPSeptember 10, 2020