Living lightly in everyday practice

Clothes do not fall from the sky and meals do not gush out of the earth. Our food and clothing must come from our own labour: Master Zi Bai, Ming Dynasty.

This 14th century philosophy is far removed from the 21st century when many people order a look or a meal with the click of a finger on a phone. Global supply chains have become so efficient at meeting our food and clothing needs for a handful of dollars that we’ve lost touch with their source.

Fast food and fast fashion is convenient but ultimately unsatisfying. We’re concerned about the ethics and waste. There is growing hunger for something more substantial, something real, something crafted with our own hands and effort.

Jane Milburn at Lantau Blue studio and wearing handmade in Hong Kong

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Rethinking clothing culture

By Jane Milburn Textile Beat founder and sustainability consultant

Textile Beat founder Jane Milburn clothed in wool garments given a second life using eco-dye. Photo by Ele Cook

Textile Beat founder Jane Milburn clothed in wool garments given a second life using eco-dye. Photo by Ele Cook

My campaign on clothing waste has been a lifetime in the making. It began as a child learning hand-making skills and continued as a student upcycling big old dresses and thrifted finds.

I made many of my clothes for decades then rediscovered op shops in 2011 after a Fashion for Flood fundraiser. I began visiting op shops and particularly seeking out natural-fibre garments – wool jumpers with a hole, linen shirts with a missing button. The waste of resources troubled me because I grew up on a farm and have an agricultural science degree. What was happening to our clothing culture I wondered?

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Making special pieces – Jemma Edwards

Having once been a part of the fashion scene, West Australian maker Jemma Edwards is uniquely placed to comment on contemporary clothing culture which she left behind a decade ago due to the influx of poorly made cheap alternatives.

Jemma Edwards created a jacket embellished with bespoke floral prints for The Slow Clothing Project.

Jemma Edwards created a jacket embellished with bespoke floral prints for The Slow Clothing Project.

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Stitch then bundle – Wendi Trulson

No one is too old or young to learn a new skill. That’s why south-east Queensland textile artist Wendi Trulson believes everyone can learn to create their own garments by just giving it a go.

Wendi Trulson wears her eco-dye upcycled wool and cashmere swing top for The Slow Clothing Project

Wendi Trulson wears her eco-dye upcycled wool and cashmere swing top for The Slow Clothing Project

Wendi’s passion is bundle (eco print) dyeing because of its sustainable and earth-friendly.  It makes one think not only of the material waste but the chemical destruction that poisons the waterways of the world.

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