Born and raised in the Grampians National Park, Folktribe co-owners and sisters, Kel and Em have always had a strong connection with nature, and as fierce humanitarians and environmentalists, they are wholeheartedly committed to contributing to a sustainable fashion future.
The Folktribe design philosophy embodies longevity and versatility to create and craft pieces that can be treasured and worn season after season, year after year, beautifully and effortlessly. Folktribe are also a proud plastic-free label, and absolutely no plastic is used throughout their entire supply chain, business operations, and personal lives.
Kel and Em are proof that when passion, integrity and conscious design come together at the hands of good people, fashion truly can be a force for good...
Why are you passionate about ethical fashion?
Around the world, millions of marginalised and vulnerable people, including children, are exploited by the fashion industry, forced to work in cramped, overheated and unsafe buildings for extremely insignificant wages. It would take a Bangladeshi garment worker earning the minimum wage more than 4,000 years to earn the same amount that the CEOs of Australia's top fashion brands make in just one year. We believe that everyone should be empowered to support themselves and their family, this means they should be entitled to safe working conditions and fair wages as a bare minimum. Creating and sewing beautiful pieces is a time, labour and skill intensive process and all people involved deserve to be treated and paid in a way that reflects this process. We aspire to create an industry that demands nothing but ethical fashion.
Why are you passionate about sustainability in the fashion industry?
First and foremost we are environmentalists, and secondly, we are fashion designers. Caring for our environment has always been at the core of our being and sustainability has been entwined in our choices for as long as we can remember. Being totally connected to the environment has given us lifelong respect for it and an undeniable feeling of responsibility when it comes to caring for it. Our passion for sustainable fashion stemmed from the environmental devastation caused by the fashion industry which in turn led to our desire to shake up the norm. We built Folktribe on a solid foundation of environmental values, and they're our unwavering commitments that every decision we make must come back to. We truly believe that beautiful garments can be made without impacting the environment on all levels, from the farmer right through to the wearer.
Why do you do what you do?
We are 100% invested in recreating the fashion industry to embody sustainable and ethical methods as the norm. We are striving to empower consumers with the information and options to make the right choices, supporting manufacturers to implement better processes, and setting an example for other businesses to follow.
Folktribe proudly advocates for better water use and cleaner practices in the industry. How has this affected the design and production of your garments?
Growing up with a dependence on rain to fill our water tanks meant that we have always been aware and conscious around water consumption. The thought of having someone dump toxic dye chemicals into our one water supply for the sake of a seasonal colour option is ludicrous. Unfortunately, due to the toxic chemicals involved in the dyes that are used for textiles, this is the reality for a significant amount of communities surrounding areas that manufacture clothing. It is an undeniable fact that the fashion industry is a major player when it comes to widespread global water pollution.
We chose to move into botanical dyes not only to eliminate toxic dye chemicals but to have full control over the quantity and disposal of water and byproducts in our dye process. Our dye contains a simple combination of rainwater and plant matter which means we are not putting any chemicals whatsoever into the environment and in fact, we are able to compost the leftover plant matter and put our dye water on the garden to grow more plants for dyeing.
In terms of design and production, we are much more involved in our production and have become even more grateful for what our environment can provide for us, and with a completely closed-loop system in place, we feel as though we are essentially part of the natural process.
How have people embraced your hemp and upcycled fabrics?
We have found that people have thoroughly embraced the hemp and upcycled range! It complements and promotes our values and assists us in educating and empowering people. The use of hemp and our botanical hand dyeing process evokes thought and discussion with our customers as well as friends, family and acquaintances which have acted as an enabler for us to support them in making ethical and sustainable fashion choices.
To support an ethical and sustainable fashion future, shop the Folktribe range here.
The Fashion Advocate x