Debora Schultz is a passionate ethical fashion advocate with a long list of impressive industry credentials. With over 20 years of experience in the styling and fashion industry, Debora is a well-renowned speaker, celebrity stylist and mum of three. Most recently, she added 'Founder and Designer of Justice Denim' to her impressive list of talents, and now, she's determined to change the denim industry one pair of ethical and responsibly-designed jeans at a time.
Debora refuses to give in to the exploitation of garment workers that so many other fashion brands do, for the sake of profit margins. Through her label, Justice Denim, she is leading the charge in the slow fashion movement, and pair by pair, Debora is tackling more than one issue within the industry...
How was Justice Denim born?
After watching a documentary on child sex trafficking, I was so incredibly disturbed and could not bear to hear what these children were going through. It sounds so silly to say, but I almost feel like that documentary has awakened my purpose. I’ve always had a soft spot for kids, having worked as a foster carer, but I feel that this business allows me to help more children than I would as a foster carer.
How do you ensure a slave-free supply chain?
It is shocking to believe that slavery still exists today! Every year, Australia imports more than 5.5 billion dollars worth of fashion at risk of being made in modern slavery conditions. Modern slavery is present in garment factories with the majority of workers being women, and horrifyingly, sometimes children. Even for those workers who are paid for their work, the majority do not make enough to live on, keeping them trapped in poverty. In Bangladesh for example, the majority of garment workers are paid as little as 39c an hour and in Vietnam, it is just 64c an hour. It's just not enough to live on. With an estimated 27 million individuals enslaved around the world, we are passionate about bringing awareness to modern slavery in the hopes of ending this global atrocity. We refuse to participate in the exploitation of garment workers in dangerous and brutal overseas factories and it is for this reason, we have decided to produce our garments right here in Melbourne with local denim craftsmen.
What does Justice Denim do that other denim brands don’t?
Each pair of Justice Denim jeans sold funds one week of life-changing education for a young girl who has been rescued from sexual trafficking, and another unique initiative is our recycling of wastage. The fashion industry is at a critical point; an estimated 92 million tonnes of textile waste is created annually from the fashion industry and is anticipated to increase by about 60% between 2015 and 2030. These statistics are sobering. We work to ensure a zero waste model by donating all of our denim off-cuts and scrap denim to quilters who recycle them into quilts and use them for other creative projects.
Considering one pair of jeans uses 9500 litres of water to be produced, how are Justice Denim jeans sustainable?
We understand that cotton production and the dying of denim has an environmental impact, but we are working hard to continually improve and source new denim with the kindest impact on the environment. We currently source the majority of our denim from Calik, a premium denim factory in Turkey. Calik is accredited with the Bluesign certificate, which is considered as the global approval of environmental, health and production safety. Calik is also a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, an international initiative working towards improving the environmental and social impacts of cotton production. Our denim wash house and craftsmen are located in Melbourne, which saves huge amounts of fuel mileage, dramatically reducing our carbon footprint during this stage of production.
As a celebrity and television stylist, are you ever faced with styling decisions that conflict with your ethics and values?
To be honest, as a freelance fashion stylist I am blessed to be able to choose who I work with. I can only think of one situation where I found a brand's values clashed intensely with my personal values and I’ve chosen to not work with them again. The hardest part for any stylist trying to work in this area is the number of brands claiming to be 'ethical' with very little information to back this up. With independent auditing bodies such as Ethical Clothing Australia and the Baptcare report, it is becoming easier for someone in my line of work to determine if a brand's claims match their ethos.
Justice Denim has partnered with Destiny Rescue, a not-for-profit organisation that rescues children from the horror of the sex trade in countries across Asia and India. Why did you choose this cause?
Every 26 seconds, a child somewhere in the world is forced into sexual slavery. Which, according to The International Labour Organisation, is nearly 1.2 million children per year. I am always so unbelievably impressed with the men who volunteer with Destiny Rescue; these are men who go into some of the darkest places on earth and risk their own lives to bring hope to these children. With Destiny Rescue, children are given immediate medical care and are made to feel safe again. Then they are given protective healing, long term education and brighter opportunities for their future. Our goal is to educate 150 girls this year and I am determined to make this happen.
Make a positive impact with your jeans and shop the Justice Denim range here, and use TheFashionAdvocate for a surprise at the checkout.
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