We love the work that’s being done by Ethical Clothing Australia to help make Australia’s fashion industry ethical and sustainable. We asked ECA’s Media and Communications Co-ordinator Sigrid McCarthy about her work there and what typically makes up her working day. Here’s what she told us. Photos: Mark Stanjo
-7am: Wake up, watch the previous evening’s SBS news segment online while eating porridge. Proceed to take a deep breath and try not to be too horrified by how warped the world is. Go outside and check on recently planted edible garden; still alive and well! Though the strawberries are looking a tad feeble.
-8am: Check emails and social media. Respond to anything urgent.
– 8:45am: Walk to Ethical Clothing Australia’s office, which is based in Fitzroy and very close to my home in Clifton Hill – making the walk quite leisurely.
– Approx 9am: Arrive at work and chat to ECA’s recently appointed National Manager, Aleasha, and colleague Roque. Exchange stories from our nights and ask whether or not Roque is up to speed on the latest happenings on Veep.
– Trawl through more emails.
– Reflect on the recent event that ECA hosted in collaboration with Intent Journal and Kinobi. Make note of who attended and what feedback we’ve received. The evening was tailored to brands either already producing in Australia or looking to do so – it promoted the benefits of onshore production and third party compliance.
– 10:30am: Meet Ally from Kinobi at a nearby cafe to discuss what was covered during the event’s panel discussion. What were the key takeaways for brands? Any significant comments made by attendees? The event encouraged brands to embrace transparent business models and provided tangible options for them to consider (i.e. ECA accreditation) – how can we ensure practical steps are taken post-event? Brainstorming ensues.
– 11:30am: Head back to the office and share insights from meeting with colleagues.
– Decide which new music playlist I’m going to listen to. Somehow find myself listening to Bonobo, again. He’s just that good.
– Make contact with ECA accredited brand, Nico Underwear, who is hosting a pop-up store in Northcote. Organise to catch up with Nico and introduce her to Aleasha. We find face-to-face engagement always leads to heartier discussion, so always take advantage of opportunities to touch base in person. It gives us the chance to explore with our brands how local manufacturing and ECA accreditation have been valuable to their businesses. And whether or not they’re facing any challenges or need any guidance.
– 1pm: Lunch time. I am a creature of habit and always make avocado with feta on toast for lunch. I’ve also developed this unhealthy habit of eating at my desk while falling into an online vortex of ethical fashion related articles (or, more often than not, Instagram).
– Answer office phone; speak to a designer who is looking for a local manufacturer. ECA is primarily an accreditation body; however, we do try to assist people with manufacturing enquiries. We want to strengthen local industry by encouraging designers to explore local manufacturing opportunities, so if possible we link brands with Australian makers.
-Email Grace from Gidi Creative. Grace organised an ethical fashion panel as part of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week in August. I spoke on the panel alongside Fashion Revolution, Vege Threads and Well Made Clothes. Together we explored the need for our local fashion industry to collaboratively work towards a healthier system. Just wanted to check in and gauge event feedback.
– Touch base with a few of our accredited brands to see how they are travelling. A significant part of my role at ECA is to foster relationships with brands, and elevate the work they are doing locally. I share the positive stories of brands who value transparency, third party compliance and the livelihoods of makers. It’s an absolute pleasure working with the more progressive fashion brands in Australia, and promoting their work to ECA’s following.
– Email RMIT to confirm an upcoming presentation that I will be giving to one of their fashion and textile classes. ECA has a strong relationship with local universities, as we believe it is vital for emerging designers to understand and embrace more ethical business practices from the get go.
-3pm: Meet with ECA accredited brand, Vege Threads. Amy and I discuss how it is going with her new factory and what plans she has for the near future. We also discuss the MSFW panel mentioned above, and how it was a good opportunity to promote the accreditation program and the ways in which it assists her business.
– Head back to the office and talk nonsense with Roque in the office kitchen for a few minutes. The ECA team is currently very small, so I am fortunate to have a close relationship with my colleague (as we can’t avoid each other!). Roque also doubles as my life coach and gives me much needed real talk… Thanks Roq, if you’re reading this (I doubt he is).
– Check ECA’s social platforms again, and line up a few posts for the coming days. Social media has become a really lovely way for ECA to develop a likeminded community of people wanting to support a more ethical local fashion industry. ECA hopes to see ethical business practices become industry standard, and believes greater awareness is key to this hope becoming a reality.
– 6pm: Pack up and head to yoga, which is not too far from the office in Fitzroy. I rarely leave the inner North bubble!
– Go home and contemplate having porridge for dinner. Decide against it, and opt for pho instead.
– 7:30pm: Boot up my laptop, make a coffee (terrible evening habit, I know) and begin working on my side project, Intent Journal.
Check out Ethical Clothing Australia’s list of accredited brands here!