Courtney Holm always knew that she would work in fashion, it was simply a matter of time before she would work out how, so when the idea behind a transparent fashion label came to her in 2016, she was determined to see it through. After a year of dedicated research and development, Courtney is now the proud founder of A.BCH, an ethical and sustainable label with nothing to hide. Her brand advocates for transparency in the fashion supply chain, from every thread to every fibre, and she’s finally found her niche.
“A.BCH is a designer basics label that offers a simple solution to a complex problem; the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry after oil, and that’s just the tip of the unethical iceberg. With so much secrecy in the world of fashion, A.BCH errs on the side of ‘too much information’, offering full disclosure as to how each of our pieces came to be. Every thread, every fibre and every button is accounted for, because we have nothing to hide. Our clothes are affordable because we don’t mark them up to traditional retail prices; we’d never want to price people out of making a difference. When you buy one of our carefully crafted garments, you’re becoming part of the solution.”
If you’re yet to work out the impacts of your fast fashion habits, you should probably read up about the problem: 36 million people are living in modern slavery today, many of whom are working in the supply chains of Western fashion brands. A.BCH is actively addressing these alarming facts by offering transparency and by engaging in local, ethical manufacturing. The entire collection is made in Melbourne from organic, natural and recycled materials, including each button, which is crafted from the seeds of failed corozo fruits in Panama, and every step of the garment journey is thoughtful, sustainable and carefully analysed. Each unique garment is either biodegradable, recyclable or up-cycled from waste, and customer input is utilised to ensure finished pieces are relevant to customer needs.
This mind-set to buck common fast fashion trends and instead embrace a sense of purpose is a strong backbone of the A.BCH brand, and while many labels manufacture overseas purely for financial gains, Courtney is passionate about her local industry. She’s well-versed on the many positive impacts that come along with local production, and she’s determined to educate her shoppers too.
“The turnaround of local manufacturing is faster, mistakes can be fixed right away, and wastage is dramatically reduced. Manufacturing locally also significantly reduces the carbon footprint of transporting clothing. We care deeply about supporting our own industry too; Australia is where we live, and therefore we will do our best to support the businesses that are local, whenever possible. My ethical stance is that I run my business with an equal emphasis on profitability, environmental sustainability, and social standards. Ethics to me mean manufacturing locally, and choosing to pay the higher rate of pay even if it disadvantages us from a competitive financial perspective.”
Choosing purpose over profits is uncommon in today’s fashion industry, but while her profit margin may be reduced, her saleability certainly is not. The minimal A.BCH aesthetic appeals to many, and each designer-basic is easy to wear and care for. Unisex linen tops offer a sustainable solution to multiple styles, and tactile fibres keep things interesting; yarn dyed striped tees, raw denim button up shirts, and organic cotton tote bags are every day wardrobe staples. Each design feature has its own story to tell too, reflecting Courtney’s values of sustainability and conscious consuming.
“Our packaging is recycled and recyclable, right down to the address labels. The threads that hold the garments together are certified GOTS organic cotton, unlike the industry standard of polyester. Our fabrics are also certified organic, natural or renewable materials with non-toxic finishes and dyes. We go through GOTS, Fair Trade or Fair Wear Foundation to seek out suppliers who have carbon neutral factories and who ensure ethical treatment of their employees, fair wages and safe working conditions across their own supply chains.”
A.BCH is well on its way to inspiring other brands to offer transparency, and shoppers are equally encourgaed to join the conversation. You can start by attending any one of her workshops which address washing and caring to increase the garment lifestyle, or understanding the re-using and recycling process.
Become part of the solution and combat fast fashion by supporting transparency at shop.abch.world.
The Fashion Advocate x