Fast fashion mogul turns to sustainability with compostability at ADL Fashion Week

As COVID-19 took off in 2020, Melanie Flintoft had to make a tough decision.

At the head of seven fast fashion brands, which depended heavily on wholesalers and department stores, the difficult choice was made to put the company under administration and put up for sale.

But it was the start of something new.

“On reflection, we had struggled to find our ‘why’ and purpose with fast fashion, and only realized the catastrophic consequences of the fast fashion industry in the few years before COVID. , which turned out to be a catalyst for what was to come,” Ms. Flintoft said.

“We understood that the fashion industry is the second most destructive industry for people and the planet, and we had time to think deeply if we should go back.”

“As we’ve seen, the world didn’t need another seasonal trend-based fashion brand. So the question was, ‘what do we do now, with our years of ‘Experience, is that all we know?'”

They decided to switch from “polyester and plastic bags, massive overproduction, unnecessary inventory” to something different.

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Now the creative director of Adelaide-based resort clothing brand Sunset Lover, the brand’s main goal is to have a zero carbon footprint.

A report by the Australian Fashion Council released earlier this year found that Australians buy 14.8 kilograms of clothing every year, or 56 new items, at an average cost of $6.50 each.

Much of it ends up in landfills, which equates to around 10 kg per person per year.

Landfill impact is a key part of Melanie Flintoft’s goals for the brand.

“Building a brand from the ground up means we look at every aspect of what we do to make sure it’s as sustainable as possible, from the labels to the packaging to the clothes themselves and at the end of its life. life, it can just be composted and returned to nature without damage,” she said.

“Currently I would say we are mostly compostable and sustainable, but we are having issues with some components such as part of our buttons and zippers, which are not.

“The many components of a garment, rather than just the fabric, present sustainability challenges that must be considered, such as sewing thread, lining, padding, stretch, printing, dyes , buttons and zippers.

“We travel the world and work with scientists and universities to help with this.

“Our goal is to have 100% compostable and sustainable luxury fashion that is unique, and has its challenges, but we are committed to going all the way and making it happen.”

The brand, which is showcasing its designs during this week’s ADL Fashion Week, is also working with scientists to test the compostability of its items.

“Everything we take from the earth, we want to put back into the earth to maintain circularity,” Ms Flintoft said.

“We work with scientists from Neutrog, a natural organic fertilizer company, who are testing the compostability of our fabrics.

“For example, one of the fabrics was 97% certified organic cotton and 3% spandex.

“When they were buried in compost for six weeks, we saw that the cotton had completely disappeared and turned into usable compost, but leaving only the stretchy spandex, which was perfect and will put hundreds of years to decompose.

“Once we saw that, the goal was clear and set for zero plastic.”

A spokesperson for the Adelaide Economic Development Agency said ADL Fashion Week was a chance to boost economic activity in the city and showcase South Australia’s top talent.

“We are delighted to be able to offer South Australian designers the opportunity to showcase their incredible creativity in an iconic location steeped in South Australian history and beyond,” the spokesperson said.

ADL Fashion Week replaces the Adelaide Fashion Festival, which was axed in 2019.

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