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ReclAIMEd Transcript

Liz As industry fashion has such a negative impact on people and the environment. Athena It's not a question of when do we act or how it's something that we need to all be doing right now. Dale We think that you should be able to operate a business in a way that helps the planet and people. Speaker 2 I have a strong belief in person as a behavior change tool. Lis Harvey You know, this kind of like creative, unheard of thinking in a way that is really with what's needed in this space. Celeste Tesoriero We don't really have 10, 20 years to slowly figure this out. We really need action now. Jack Manning Bancroft Welcome to the Making of a Hoodie Podcast. Speaker 4 Waste in fashion is on a massive scale. Speaker 5 Thousands of tons of rubbish polluting someone else's country. Speaker 6 Almost 13 million tons of clothing and textile waste end up in landfills every year in just the United States alone. Speaker 7 We've completely devalued what clothing is, clothing is now disposable. Speaker 8 It can be upwards of 150 billion garments are produced annually- Speaker 5 Billion. Speaker 8 Billion. Speaker 5 The streets here are littered with the remnants of our fast fashion choices. It's on their land and it's in their sea. Speaker 9 And as the textiles industry uses more and more water, an increasing number of people don't have access to supplies. Speaker 10 Clothing should be expensive. It should be, you know, the reason that it's not is because people are being taken advantage of in other countries. Speaker 5 We don't want the rubbish our throwaway culture leaves behind, but nor does Africa. Jack Welcome to the Making of a Hoodie Podcast. Um, we-, we're in the middle of our ReclAIMEd investigation to explore what can we do with this problem around dead clothing at the end of the line, the problem that sees mountains and mountains of clothing in India with cows walking over them, the problem that sees clothes going to the third world and the third world saying, "We don't want these anymore. 'Cause we've got enough." The problem which sees fast fashion, having people wear something for a moment, have no identity or connection to it and then throw it out. The problem that within a generation has seen, um, no one owns something for more than 20 or 30 years. Uh, so we're here to explore how we can try and reclaim that dead stock, how we can utilize the cloth that's already been created and work with it and see how we can regenerate it. Celeste My name is Celeste Tesoriero and I have a sustainability consultancy called Sonzai Studios. My background is in design, fashion design. So I've been a designer for 15 years. I've worked for many other people and also had my own brand and having my own brand was my first, I guess, awakening into the problems that fashion can create for people in the planet. So from that aha moment that I had producing, that was a ripple effect for me and just really snowballed into every facet of my life. And I think with sustainability, you know, once you start learning about it, you can't unlearn it. So for me, there was no way I could go back for, to working for brands, not doing the right thing. So I came to work for AIME, mm. A few months ago now specifically to do brand partnerships on the ReclAIMEd projects, hearing about this project really ignited my excitement from the bat because it's solving a few challenges all at once. So the dead stuck problem for fashion brands, also raising money for kids to be educated and, and closing the gap for marginalized kids. Th-, this launch of ReclAIMEd is really exciting because to really make this project have a massive impact, we need to be able to work with the biggest brands in the world and the smallest brands in the world. Athena I'm Athena, the sustainability and projects manager at MJ Bale. Um, uh, the ReclAIMEd project is something that, uh, jumped out at me, but it's also something that jumped out at the business a few years ago when you were in your earliest stages, um, back in 2020, which we did that vintage student collaborated with indigenous artists to kind of revive some of our old suit jackets and turn them into, I guess, walking pieces of art really. And it was beautiful. And so when we saw, um, the, the, the call out for brands, again for reclaims, we were very interested and keen to jump back on board, especially because, you know, looking at the, the key phrases in the project is re-imagining dead stock and especially moving forward in the fashion industry in a huge part of our sustainability focus is looking at textile waste, which is such a huge component in the fashion industry. Uh, and it's, um, it's what I think definitely can be caught a wicked problem. I don't think there is a silver bullet or a clear solution that's available, um, that we can all just tap into right now, but it's something that we do need to start peeling the layers back of what the problem is, where does it stem from? What's the situation. And as you said, you know, sharing not, not having secrets and rather learning and sharing what we learn and what the other brands can learn on this journey altogether, so that we can hopefully come up with finally a few solutions to what, what is currently a wicked problem. Dale I'm the founder of BONDI BORN, which is an Australian, uh, luxury swimwear and resort wear brand. So we, um, only use sustainable fabrics. You know, we keep, we make very small brands here in Australia so that we don't have a lot of dead stock or a lot, you know, dead fabrics, but it's, it's unavoidable to a certain extent in, in any brand. Uh, we have a no waste policy though we sort of, we keep selling our set, our, whatever sales stock we have left. And then, you know, that we donated, we donated, we donated, you know, thousands of units to the, um, flood victims in Northern New South Wales recently. So there's always somewhere that you can, you know, you get, send your beautiful clothes that haven't sold. Um, unfortunately I do hear horror stories about some brands that just burn them, um, you know, which is, is tragic. Uh, we know we give away our fabrics to, you know, fashion colleges and blah, blah, blah. So for, I mean, we're only relatively small compared to a lot of big commercial brands. So imagine the bigger you get, the more commercial you are, um, you know, the lower your margins than you are going to have a bigger problem with dead stock and waste. And it definitely is a problem in the fashion industry because, you know, we aren't meant to be like the second largest, you know, industry for producing carbon. And, um, you know, a ridiculous percentage of the plastic in the ocean comes from, um, synthetic garments that are washed in your washing machine and go out, you know, into the, you know, into the water system. Liz I'm the founder and director of Nico. Um, we're an Australian based brand. We, um, make intimates and leisure wear. Um, I think, you know, sustainability has been part of our journey from the beginning kind of unconsciously in the beginning, just 'cause, you know, it was my personal values, I suppose. I wasn't really even conscious of like bringing that into the business back then. Um, but as I started working in this space, I became like so much more aware of the problems, right? There's so many problems with the, you know, the way that the system operates and the way it's set up. Um, and so, you know, over time it, it became a, you know, one of the cornerstones of our business to, to focus on sustainability and minimizing our impact as much as we can, which of course we can't do 100%, but um, you know, we're working in the best direction that we possibly can. Um, but it's true that dead stock is a huge issue and that it's, um, waste is such a big part of the fashion industry, no matter how much you try to minimize, it's all this, always an element of waste I think. So I was really excited when I heard about this project because I think it's, you know, this kind of like creative kind of like, you know, unheard of thinking in a way that is really what's needed in this space, you know, like the tried and tested ways of doing things aren't coping with the demand of the fashion industry right now. So we really do need new creative ways of thinking about it and, and trying to solve those issues. So I was really stoked because I think it's a really clever, clever way to deal with it. Qiulae I've just moved back to New Zealand and started this [inaudible 00:08:59] the New Zealand manager for B Lab, um, which is the organization that looks after B Corp certification. Essentially, um, B Corp is a certification for businesses that are started about 15 years ago. And it's really about, um, driving systems, economic systems change. So getting businesses to consider all of their stakeholders in decision making, not just their shareholders, um, and therefore, you know, considering the environment, the people that work for the company, the communities within which they operate, all of that goes into decision making processes, not just thinking, you know, is this decision gonna make the most money for my shareholders? Dale So we are one of the very few Australian fashion brands and luxury brands in general that are B Corp certified. And B Corp certified, is there something I love about it is that this sort of the premise of it is that they believe business can be a force for good, which matches a little bit with your lovely saying about, you know, fashion. Good. So yeah, we think that you should be able to operate a business, um, in a way that, you know, helps the planet and people and, you know, um, brings joy to the people that wear the clothing, et cetera, but doesn't, you know, harm isn't negative Celeste Tesoriero Even though ReclAIMEd is just one idea of this, utilizing everything. You know, if we think about how much we have to learn from indigenous culture, I'd love it to definitely connect to that. Acknowledging that that idea is really old and waste is, has been invented, waste use-, used to never exist because, you know, we used to use everything that we had. Dale B Lab, aren't the first ones to think about, you know, intergenerational and interdependent approaches to business. Those are foundational indigenous practices, um, and how we can align with that and ensure that our work supports those communities to thrive is really important. Athena Indigenous and first nations, custodians and lands across the globe were the first original protectors, carers, uh, of this planet. And they've, they did it so perfectly. And it's really us having brought in our values and our, what we thought was the right way of doing things that has made mother earth in, in pain. And, you know, if we are talking about that timeline, you know, the based on the UN that timeline's 2030, uh, and I had the epiphany just last week. Um, I was having a conversation. I went, hang on a second. Didn't we step down like 2015. And I realized we're pretty much coming up to exactly halfway from when we made that promise as, as a global, as, as global citizens, as countries and governments, but also as businesses when we made those agreements and commitments to 2030, we're halfway there. And it's scary to think that I don't think we're halfway at the halfway point on achieving any of those goals, which is terrifying. Um, but also I think it adds to the point of urgency. And I talked to, I was speaking about how with sustainability businesses can view it as risk or as opportunity when you talk about it from a business sense. But at the end of the day, what it really is, is a matter of urgency. It's not a question of when do we act or how it's something that we need to all be doing right now and working out what it is that we can do to, to do and be better. Speaker 1 You know, if the industrial revolution, we thought it was just this amazing thing that we could do everything faster and quicker and squeeze more stuff into a day. Um, but definitely now people are starting to realize the, the negative impacts of that. Um, and consumers are, you know, once, once they've learned the realities of how something like that is made, you know, back in the day that it is how people had clothing made, they maybe got a dress or something made once or twice a year and it would cost them a lot of money. But now the ratio of, you know, the value of that dress is diminished so much. Celeste Tesoriero I got to sit on British Fashion Council's Positive Fashion Committee, and it was round table discussions, um, that were very loose. We would just sit down in a room and have a couple of things on the agenda. Fashion's usually a really cagey industry and people hold their things really close to their hearts. Um, these rooms were open discussion and it was these massive companies sitting down and going, "Okay, we're all facing the same problems, packaging, for example, or dead stock, for example, rather than us all trying to solve them separately, can we pull resources and figure this out together? Because I think there's an urgency with climate change and there's an urgency to get this done. Now we don't really have 10, 20 years to slowly figure this out. We really need action now." Um, that really inspired me about the power of partnership. And so now I really advocate for everything that I do to be part get based because we are so much better together than as individuals. Speaker 1 I've always been really interested in fashion. Um, it's always been a big passion of mine since, you know, I was at school, I'd be making clothes, myself, my friends. Um, and I did also have this kind of sense of wanting to do good in the world. And I think that kind of came from living kind of growing up in quite a multicultural family. And, um, my dad's Chinese. He kind of get instilled in you this sense of needing to, to be of service to, to your family and to the community. So I kind of had these two parallel things growing up, um, that kind of came to fruition, I guess when I moved to London, um, about eight years ago and sought out work in the fashion industry and I wanted to be doing something that crossed those two worlds together, and I didn't even really know it existed. Um, until I came across the Ethical Fashion Group, um, used to be called the Ethical Fashion Forum. Um, so this was an industry organization that was doing exactly that just trying to drive change in the fashion industry and help people to tell positive stories and to have a positive impact on people in the planet through clothing. Um, so my eyes were really opened up to that. Um, and I spent an amazing five years working with them. Um, I think I always thought that I might start up a fashion brand, but when I came across this organization, I realized that there were just so many challenges for the industry to solve that, you know, we were having, you know, as an industry, fashion has such a negative impact on people and the environment, um, that I kind of, I couldn't help, but, you know, I had to kind of go down that path and try and help as many businesses as possible to change the way that they operate. Shyaka When AIME first did ReclAIMEd in 2019, I think it was 2019. Yeah. I was part of the ReclAIMEd photo shoot at the dump site in Sydney. And, uh, getting to understand like how this all works, getting this, uh, clouds, rebranding them and putting them on sale. And something happened to like, I started thinking, I was like, oh shit, back home when clothes get old, we, we dump them or burn them. And then I started thinking of like the worst cons-, contribution of textile and fashion and... So I really got interested in like the power of, uh, fashion and textile and what, like fashion itself could be able to communicate, the influence it had on behavior change and, uh, style of how people live their lives. And it made a lot of sense. A certain idea was born in me how to do secular fashion back home. And there's this crazy idea got of like, okay, instead of burning clothes, we can trade them back to cotton and make new clothes out of them. And, uh, it's, it's a brand building back home as a, a side hustle a-, apart from my, my job at the end. But like, uh, that's why the dream was born during the ReclAIMEd photo shoot. And I have a strong belief in like the ReclAIMEd idea, 'cause I have a strong belief in fashion as a, a communication tool and the behavior change tool. Athena Sustainability is the next innovation space, but people don't always wanna fully realize that. I think 'cause the focus is typically on automation and tech. We're not realizing that that also goes really hand in hand with some sustainability, um, uh, conversations. But also there's been so many businesses that chose to, I love when you said just then investing in, in tomorrow at the markets of tomorrow because so many people focus on, on what's going on now or they're too scared to move at the risk of not knowing what tomorrow is. Speaker 1 So in the fabric space, in the fashion industry, there's amazing innovation happening there. Um, you know, making leather out of mushrooms and apples and like just this whole kind of, um, bio made fabrics, um, incredible innovation and how people can kind of spend 10 years locked up developing this stuff is, is amazing and beyond me. Athena We're in a climate in the business world where we don't really, there's a less clarity than we've ever had before and what the future looks like, what market space look like, what customers will want in five to 10 to 20 years time. But what we do know is businesses that haven't made it even to now, are the ones that kept in their way. So the ones that were too scared to take the steps, they weren't, they weren't taking the leap. So they weren't making the relevant changes that society, cultures, and ultimately consumers wanted. And, and we, we all know we've all read all the statistics that customers around the world, no matter what industry you are in, want more sustainable products and want them to hail from sustainable brands. Actually I don't even think sustainable products is even enough anymore. I think they want to know that their brands are sustainable. They're ethical, they're transparent. Dale You have to make decisions the whole way along. You know, be like, you know, what, what sort of packaging do you use? You know, what, where do you get the fabrics from? You know, you can buy fabrics that are certified eco and some that aren't, you can go buy fabrics that are synthetic and aren't. So you just have to make these decisions conscious-, constantly. So I didn't really, I didn't set out to be, you know, a sus-, the sustainable brand. I guess when I started doing this seven years ago, people weren't really talking sustainability. I just did it because every decision made, I felt was the best decision in terms of, um, producing a quality garment and producing a garment that was, you know, it ticked all the bo-, all the wood boxes. Celeste Tesoriero You know, I just read, I think the other day that only 1% of our clothing is getting remade into new clothing. It's getting downgraded into things like insulation, for example. So then, you know, not to get too technical, but there's these solutions in the sphere at the moment for fashion, like creating fashion from plastic bottles and it's like, hang on, stop a second. By using plastic bottles for fashion, you are taking them out of a circular system into a linear one. And that blew my mind because plastic bottles will get recycled better if they stay plastic bottles rather than fabric. Speaker 1 I dunno if you've seen the true cost in this, in the sustainable fashion world, it's kind of, you know, a documentary that lots of people watch. And I think the penny drops for a lot of people seeing that, um, because it taps into our humanity and we realize that, you know, it's not just a t-shirt that we are wearing. That's something that somebody has probably been massively underpaid for is slaved away, worked 22 hours a day to make thousands of those t-shirts and a pretty meaningless, boring job and a hot factory that doesn't meet health and safety regulations. When you kind of see all of that, you can't unsee it. And that does help the penny drop for a lot of people definitely. Athena A lot of the conversations is really highlighting the issue at hand at first and typically, uh, there's a lot of overwhelm. And then, then it gets followed by confusion. You know, what can I do? And especially when we start talking across departments, some departments can see the direct link that they can have to sustainability and helping the business move forward. And then there's other departments that get confused and grow. I don't think I have a role to play in this space. You know, my department doesn't clearly link. I'm just trying to hopefully get them over that barrier movement to a phase where understanding that it really is a group effort. It's going to be all of us coming together. And it's shifting the needle in all the little ways to hopefully shift big needle entirely. Internally the key conversation particularly that, uh, this ReclAIMEd project is really prompted for us is really starting to investigate various parts of when we start looking into the term dead stock and it's, you know, what, what do we deem as dead stock? What, what happens to it at the moment with the business? You know, is do, is there a more innovative way, which is definitely the reimagined part, which is what we've clamped onto is, is there a better way, a more innovative way for us to really think about what we can do with this dead stock. You know, common for businesses that either stocks up at a warehouse or end up at a warehouse sale, or you try to push it out in outlets and it's ridiculously low price. And you're like, "Why are you even bothering to tell, sell something for so low cost? There is like a negative margin at that point. This is not good business. Even if you think, you know, putting sustainability aside, it's not good business." And so I love this question because it's challenging businesses to think of a sustainable solution to an unsustainable problem. Whilst also in reality, I think a lot of the time when people talk about sustainability, it it's the, the discourse is shifting, but there's this assumption that it's a cost on the business. It is difficult for business sh-, you know, yes, we have to make, we have to make changes, but is it really gonna help us? People don't realize, well, not all businesses have fully come to terms or all leaders have come to terms without making sustainable choices. It's often actually good for business. It's good for commercial and as well as been good for environment and for people as well. Speaker 1 We'd be meeting with big, you know, High Street fashion brands or luxury brands. Um, and I think often you start with the argument around consumers, 'cause that's the language they speak. Um, and you kind of try to scare them into it by saying, "You know, customers are wanting to buy more sustainable products and you're gonna lose your customer share." Um, I think that's one way you try and kind of get that conversation across. It doesn't always work because at the same time, you know, you have the Boohoo of the world that are still selling dresses for a dollar and making huge amounts of profit. So, um, in reality that customer argument doesn't always play out. Um, in recent years, I think the increase in regulation, um, and governments stepping in to change the way that businesses need to operate is a huge impact. Um, and the, the rising kind of, um, the, the kind of young people that are coming through businesses now and become, you know, having decision making power is actually changing the way that these businesses are operating. And, you know, it's almost getting to board level and that's making it imperative. Celeste Do you know, there's brands who have amazing clothing that is really expensive and really beautiful. And they are coming up to the challenge that they can't do anything with it or give it away because of it being their IP, for example. And so just having these conversations with the brands is making them think about what they're saying. To me, you know, that they're saying these things like, you know, I had a brand say to me, "We don't have any dead stock." And I can tell you right now from being a designer, no brand in the world can say they don't have any dead stock. There's, you know, fabric scraps from just cutting patterns out on the table. Everyone has waste. But just having these conversations with, you know, multiple brands over the next year is planting that seed for them. Athena The ideas are limitless. We, we all had different things. You know, things that came about was, you know, can we turn old things in, can we get like off cuts of, of garments and then, um, cut them up and patch 'em into a tote bag. Can we create, you know, can we reap, can we cut off arms of jackets and things and thread them back together and almost do like this weird hybrid jacket or, you know, can our jackets be, or I think we've got a lot of, um, technical jackets that are really incredible, really thoughtfully made, but you know, what do we, what do we do with them? And then we thought, ah, that'd be fantastic to make a bag out of a travel bag. And so what if we thread them in different ways and use the arms as handles. And so there's so many different things, but what we ultimately did land on was we wanted to ensure that whatever product we end up reimagining is useful, we wanted to make sure that it's not just, you know, uh, a pocket square that was a shirt cut up. I mean, great. It's not a bad idea, but we really did want whatever we end up coming up with to be thoughtful and to be useful and to be something that AIME and MJ Bale can be proud of reimagining rather than just a quick fix. And so we don't actually, haven't landed an idea yet. Uh, the place that we are at now is firstly identifying which stock we wanna particularly reimagine, whereas our sticky where's our sticky point, where is something that we want to, we want to do better with, and then hopefully in the next few weeks, we'll, um, all agree on an idea, but it's, and it's, it's an exciting challenge, uh, to step for ourselves. And we're really looking forward to see where we end up, hopefully in a month's time we'll, um, have a, have an agreed understanding of what our reimagined product will be. Dale We've just decided to make a dress. Um, so we're looking at, you know, what are the most popular dress designs? And then, you know, what are the fabrics and the colors, and if we're gonna put it on our side at the same time as our other colors, it needs to sort of stand out and be different. 'Cause we make everything in Australia, like literally within a few blocks of our warehouse in Marrickville, um, you know, we can just walk into the, get the, get the fabric, cut, walk into our little boutique makers and say, "Hey, Jimmy, I need this in two weeks." And they go, "Sure Dale." And, you know, off we go, I mean, I don't have to, you know, make 500 of them in China and get it shipped. We get it stuck in the Shanghai, you know, loading dock. So that's, you know, for us, we can be very agile. And, um, so we're gonna start with a one dress, to a limited number of units. Um, we'll make it very, very affordable, really we'll price it less than we would've, um, uh, you know, as a normal retail price, because we've gotta build in a buffer for our retailers. Um, and yeah, and see how it goes and if it goes well, then it's fantastic. We can, you know, we can keep our makers busy and use up our stock and our dead stock fabrics and keep it interesting and do something good for the world. Liz Not often that you get this kind of like big creative brief, you know, like there's so many considerations in a design process, but this, and of course there is with this process as well, but it feels like permission to have a little bit more fun than maybe we normally would. (laughs) So it's still early days. I don't wanna say too much because we're, we're still working some things out, but, um, I'm really lucky on our team. We have, um, Allie, who's amazing. She's been with us for like four years, I think. And she's, um, basically like the up cycle queen. So we're working together to kind of experiment with what we have. Um, 'cause obviously that's a really important part of it. Like making sure we take the things that we have and um, you know, I think it still needs to feel like Nico, it still needs to feel like something our audience will be into. Um, but it's gonna be something a little bit special, you know, like it's gonna just freshen it up and, and make it feel kind of unique. So, um, you know, our style, our aesthetic, I think at Nico is naturally pretty minimalist. So I think we're giving ourselves permission to go a little bit bigger on this one. Celeste Tesoriero It's a real opportunity for anyone listening to think about how they buy clothes and you know, on a, on a wider scale. Um, not everyone wants to shop second hand, but there's different ways to, to shop and to look at the way that you buy things that is not regular. So look outside the box and ReclAIMEd, when it launches, you know, b-, buying something from that is solving waste and helping kids. So when next time you go to buy something new, think about researching something that's gonna help people with your money. Speaker 2 I feel like ReclAIMEd can become that part of the solution or the solution model for all textile brands on how we manage textile and fashion waste. Celeste Tesoriero There's so much to do. There's so many exciting ways that we can take this. Um, it'll be one step at a time, but I can see it getting really big. Speaker 1 We did heaps of work with, um, students and, and my work at the Ethical Fashion Group and just seeing the ideas that they come up with that, you know, things that would, um, completely redesigning the system, the fashion industry and the way that we think about it, the way that we think about labeling clothes to kind of, as we were saying, tell that story of what actually goes into it and how many hands have touched the garments. Um, through to yeah, repurposing materials and creating like whole communities, um, of people around, you know, rental clothing, um, so many exciting initiatives that are happening. And it gives me a lot of hope for the future. Athena I love that in that question, you talked about hopeful, how to stay hopeful, 'cause obviously, you know, we both just talked about how mother earth, you know, she's given us a clock. We feel like we're running outta time. Uh, recently when we were at a group conference, our, uh, COO used the example of Pandora's box and this concept of hope and you know, all the terrible things came out. But the one thing that everyone often forgets in the story, the people that no one really ever says is the fact that hope with that last thing left in the box.

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