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I’ve long been a supporter of the Australian fashion industry, it’s what The Fashion Advocate is all about. I love the creativity of independent designers, I love the uniqueness of small-run collections, and I love the history behind Australia’s fashion manufacturers. I talk about it like it’s a healthy thriving industry, but sadly, it’s not what it used to be.

According to the Australian Fashion Council (formally the Council of Textiles and Fashion Industries Australia), 92% of all clothes sold in Australia are imported, and it’s a demand that the fast fashion mentality has created.

For mainstream fashion consumers, the temptation to impulse buy an imported $10 tee over a locally or ethically made shirt is too strong, and cheapness trumps conscience. As fast fashion continues to flood our market with the increase in e-commerce and decrease of human value, our local designers are losing out and closing down.

The effect of fast fashion doesn't stop at the design studio though, and now that Melbourne’s last artisan pleater is threatened, it’s clear the whole industry is feeling the pinch.

Founded in 1925 and now owned and operated by Simon Zdraveski, Specialty Pleaters is on the brink of closure – and it’s one of two of Australia’s last pleating manufacturers. Despite being the go-to pleater for the likes of Toni Maticevski and the Victorian Opera, Specialty Pleaters is struggling, and it’s because pre-pleated fabric is cheaper to import than to ethically manufacture it locally.

Desperate to save this valuable piece of Australia’s fashion identity, Melbourne design duo, William Bon and Penelope Gibbs have created an exclusive collection of scarves, pocket squares and artwork to help raise funds for Specialty Pleaters.

The ‘1930s Holiday’ range is a homage to the early beginnings of Specialty Pleaters, and each luxurious pleated silk scarf features hand-drawn artwork illustrated in Hokum's signature style. Profits raised from the range will help update Specialty Pleaters' equipment (some of which dates back to the 1930s and requires restoration) and aid the development of educational resources to ensure the longevity of this vital fashion craft.

The Specialty Pleaters Indiegogo campaign is currently at pre-launch stage, but you can join the campaign by signing up and staying tuned for the first release of scarves to purchase. 

The thing about our Australian fashion industry is that once it’s gone, it’s gone. Think past that $10 tee and think sustainably about the future of your fashion identity. Every garment counts.

The Fashion Advocate x

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