Fashion is a global phenomenon and one of the largest industries in the world. While fashion is a form of self-external representation, on a larger scale, it also represents the contemporary's socio-economic and political backgrounds. And in the rapid age of digitalisation and information, fashion trends are evolving all the time, resulting in the newer term: fast fashion; and with this, the emergence of its counter concept: slow fashion. We chat with Jodi Gibbs, the founder of Australian slow fashion brand, Bird & Kite on how consumers are leading this eco-driven trend.
1. Could you share with us a little about your childhood?
I grew up in remote Australian bushland. The life we lived was free from convention, and completely outside the box. Mum and dad instilled in us the drive to live creatively, passionately, with intention and independence. They taught us to work hard and to value the fruits of that labour. It was a life of simplicity, living off the land and going back to basics. We were self-sufficient in almost all aspects from homegrown produce to handmade clothes, cheese, bread. Even our bush rock home was hand built using raw and recycled materials from the land. Our home was solar-powered, and rainwater was our water source. We lived off the grid.
2. Tell us about how you started your brand?
I guess it naturally evolved. I wasn’t ambitious to start a brand. It wasn’t planned. Making clothes is part of my DNA. From as early as I can remember I helped my mum make all our clothes. So, I’ve been sewing and making clothes from a young age.
Later this evolved into a passion. As a teenager, I spent hours in second-hand opportunity stores buying clothes and cutting them up to make my own creations. I also developed a huge vintage collection which is still a constant source of inspiration. Friends would always ask me if I could make them one of my creations. Eventually and organically, it turned into Bird & Kite! I’m still stunned that I get to do what is essentially my passion and obsession every day and also bring a lot joy to the people wearing Bird & Kite. I feel blessed.
3. What does the term ‘slow fashion’ mean to you?
Put simply, slow fashion is the opposite to fast fashion. Slow fashion requires time and thought with consideration to the makers, the ethical codes of conduct, the impact on planet and culture. Fast fashion considers none of these things and is a slave to fast-moving trends with speedy production turnarounds of large-scale orders designed for overconsumption and ultimately ending up in landfill. In fast fashion, everyone suffers from the makers of the planet and environment.
In contrast, slow fashion is about limited, small-batch production that embraces a holistic approach to production. Slow fashion supports culture over commerce, incorporating traditional artisan techniques and ensuring that makers are fairly treated and paid for their work. If a garment is created with people and the planet considered, it means corners are not cut for greater profits. It means it takes longer to make each garment and therefore can only be made in small batches over a longer production period. Slow fashion has, over time, also come to represent all the small little choices that a brand makes to consider sustainability and the environment, such as the removal of plastics used in production and the use of eco fabrics and plant-based printing, minimisation of cutting room waste and other similar initiatives.
4. What makes a brand sustainable?
There really is no such thing as a 100% sustainable brand. If a brand is making this claim I would be questioning it. We see our journey into sustainability as a current and continuous work in progress. However, it's very difficult to operate and walk on the planet without leaving some kind of footprint. It's about making as many choices as is available to you as you go along that consider sustainability and keep looking for more opportunities to improve. I have always felt inspired by the quote 'We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic acts to participate in the process of change. Many small, considered acts, multiplied by millions can change the world.'
Our ultimate goal as a brand is to thrive in harmony with the environment and society in which we operate by giving back as much as we take.
5. What can we, as consumers, do to shop more consciously, or sustainably?
Keep asking questions. Make effort to see where the product is made, who is making it and who is impacted or benefiting the most from your purchase. Follow your gut. Ask yourself how the purchase makes you feel and what it represents to you. Shop with thought.
6. Tell us a little about the story behind your recent collection, Verde.
In ‘Verde’ we are honouring the bounty of spring. ‘Verde’ is the luscious footprint of the earth. Honestly, we just felt really inspired by the vibrancy, abundance and freshness of green this season. Spring comes off the back of winter and hibernation so it just felt like a bit of vibrance of colour and the romance of some flamboyant shapes was needed! We are loving this collection and hope that our customers can feel this intention coming through from us.
All imagery is provided by Bird & Kite.