Australia is set for a sustainability shake up in the garment industry.

University of Sydney PhD candidate Lisa Heinze believes demand for sustainable and ethically sourced fashion is on the rise among Australians.

“Most people don’t want to buy something that’s made in a sweatshop – it’s not that people want to choose that as an option – but it can be really difficult to know how something was made.”

Author of Sustainability with Style, Heinze said that a growing number of sustaintable fashion companies are entering the Australian market to cater for the growing demand.

“Consumers have little patience for companies that don’t know how their clothing is produced.

“But at this point they also don’t seem to be aware of how deep and complex the fashion supply chain can become.”

“It’s very rare to find a label or a garment that is ticking all the right boxes.

“It’s quite common to find a brand that is dedicated to being sweatshop-free, but their environmental credentials won’t be as strong.”

Heinze has interviewed around 25 sustainable designers operating in the market and believes a change is coming in the way labels market themselves in the fashion industry.

“All of the retailers I’ve interviewed acknowledge that we need to move beyond the old stereotypes of what eco fashion looks like.

“There’s a recognition that aesthetics and style has to be as good as everything else that’s out there. Price, style and availability tend to be the top three issues when choosing fashion, and many people aren’t even aware of the sustainability factor.”

She has also applauded H&M for its ethics and sustainability initiatives, yet is pushing for greater transparency and understanding on both ends of the spectrum.

“The answer is not to make people feel guilty about shopping for pleasure but rather painting a realistic picture of fashion consumption, and in doing so it will make it easier for people to consume fashion sustainably.”

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