Mariana Kirova is a professional upcycler, an eco-fashion educator and an agent for change. She transforms rescued clothing into unique timeless pieces through her Perth-based business Eco Fashion Sewing which she established after studying fashion design in Western Australia.
Mariana Kirova wears an eco-fashion statement ensemble she created for The Slow Clothing Project.
Mariana said it is sad to see lots of fashion students graduating in Australia each year yet only a few stay and work in the fashion industry. “If Australian fashion brands have their production at home, this wouldn’t be happening,” she said.
Nina van Hartskamp loves hand-made things and discovering natural treasures. “When you wear a piece you made yourself (or was made by a friend) it has a story. And I have a big love for natural fibres, which are expensive when you buy them new. Luckily there are op shops! I can spent ages in second-hand stores. It’s such a kick to find hidden treasures,” she said.
Nina van Hartskamp wears an eco-print wool jacket she transformed for The Slow Clothing Project
When Nina was a little girl growing up in the Netherlands, her grandma used to make her dresses and she loved choosing the fabrics and looking through pattern magazines.
Saadia Thomson lists many reasons to value slow clothing – sustainability, creativity, self-expression, uniqueness, enjoyment, learning and honing skills, sharing and being happy. She has come to dislike the culture of consumerism or affluenza and believes people get so caught up in the next fad (fashion or otherwise) they lose sight of what’s important.
Erin Thomson wears an apron made by her mum Saadia from a rescued business shirt for The Slow Clothing Project
“Instead of collecting things – and getting into debt for stuff they neither need or really want – we can focus more on building skills, friendships, family connections and taking time to enjoy what they already have, being with family and friends; giving freely to others by sharing their skills and knowledge,” Saadia said.
Clothing has become so available and affordable in the past decade that most people no longer sew. Yet there are intangible rewards from making your own wearables, including a sense of achievement from reusing natural resources.
Sally Harris wears a wool poncho she made from a knee rug for The Slow Clothing Project.
Canberra-based Sally Harris credits The Slow Clothing Project with giving her an incentive to sew again. “With such emphasis on new clothes these days, it is lovely to take part in the Slow Clothing Project and enlighten people to the good old ways.” Continue reading
Maths teacher Xin Wang says the more she sews her own clothes, the more she realises how much effort goes into making one simple garment. She cherishes garments more, whether they are made by her or other people, because of the effort and time put into them.
Gorgeous Flora Hanisch wears a dress handmade by her mum Xin for The Slow Clothing Project
“I love making my own clothes because I enjoy making things with my hands. I like clothes that are different – the worst thing to me in terms of clothes is wearing the same clothes as somebody else and that applies to my two kids’ clothes as well. Finally, it’s cheaper to make my own to achieve the uniqueness rather than buying designer clothes,” Xin said.
Cath Jarvis is a busy sonographer and mother of three who with partner Kevin runs a sheep property at Tottenham in central New South Wales. When growing up in the country a few decades ago, Cath’s Mum encouraged her and two sisters to step away from learning ‘domestic’ tasks and get more into professional and untraditional work. This meant Cath only learned to sew later in life when she realised these skills were useful for sustainable living.
Cath Jarvis wears the pinny she created for The Slow Clothing Project from discarded jeans and work shorts
“We all rode motorbikes and horses, and generally mucked around on the farm, we might have been a bit wild. Then when we went off to high school we were sent to an agricultural high school and these subjects weren’t offered. I didn’t ever think it was a great loss until my late 30s when I realised being able to sew could be very handy.
Genevieve Manhal made a resolution to buy nothing new this year (except a few items of underwear when necessary) and she’s noticing even more the media stream of fast fashion that is in her face all the time, on television, in magazines and on social media. “No wonder there are so many people struggling with body image issues and the notion of not ‘fitting in’ when this consumerist image is constantly being shown and targeted at every age group,” said Genevieve who lives in the Bass Coast area of south Gippsland in Victoria.
Genevieve Manhal from south Gippsland in Victoria made this versatile pinafore/skirt for The Slow Clothing Project.
Growing up in a household that valued being sustainable and repurposing items, building your own from scratch and thinking environmentally, the idea of fast fashion has always been an issue of concern for Genevieve. “Also studying design at TAFE it was always in your face, what was in ‘trend’, what you needed to look ‘cool’ and I have always felt, even after being out of secondary school for 10 years, that a big factor with peer pressure and fitting in is by wearing ‘correct’ fashion.
Handmade skills give Frances Leske enormous self-confidence, self-satisfaction and pleasure. These skills greatly enhance her wellbeing, even though they may originate from a background of survival and living within your means.
Frances Leske used fabric gifted from her mother to create wide-leg pants and a top for The Slow Clothing Project.
“Making my own clothing brings me joy – the wonderful feeling of achievement and the positive comments made by people in the street. I love to sew and create garments for myself which are unique, handmade with care and attention. It brings me such joy,” she said.
Melbourne-based Tamara Russell knows firsthand that handmade is so much more satisfying than a quick purchase. For many years, she has been remaking, revamping and reworking her own clothing from other people’s hand-me-downs or op shop finds.
Tamara Russell made a signature wool cardigan from rescued materials for The Slow Clothing Project.
She believes the slow, meditative process of sewing, knitting, crochet and stitching is great for body and soul, slowing one down to enjoy life around them and to be proud of their own creations rather than a quick purchase to follow ‘fashion’ and then disposing of items as they go ‘out of fashion’.
Emma Williamson’s story embodies the values, spirit and actions of The Slow Clothing Project. When she moved to the remote Pilbara region in Western Australia last year, Emma discovered fresh purpose through handmade. She found a local need of women wanting to learn to sew and set up Sturt Pea Conscious Clothing business to bring inspired clothing into the world and return benefits to people and the planet.
Emma Williamson wears the dress she made from a sheet for The Slow Clothing Project. Photos by Helen Osler.
“I teach a sewing class, and contribute my skills in dressmaking at a weekly mother’s group. I love helping people to gain an appreciation and aptitude for garment making. I’ve seen it can be very empowering, particularly for those coming from a low socio-economic group,” Emma said.