Rac­ing fin­ishes but style never sleeps

The Australian - - LIFE -

With the spring rac­ing car­ni­val over for an­other year, Buzz had hoped there might be time to re­lax for a mo­ment. But no such luck in fash­ion land, with the silly sea­son of­fi­cially upon us. Just last night in Syd­ney there were two com­pet­ing events, one to cel­e­brate the open­ing of the new Coach flag­ship store (com­plete with ar­cade games and bowl­ing for the brave), the other to toast the lat­est ad­di­tions on to the Aus­tralian Fash­ion Walk of Style: Alex Perry and Camilla Franks. Think of it as the Hol­ly­wood Walk of Fame, just with slightly less wet ce­ment. And Os­car win­ners. But on Mon­day night, Buzz went to quite a dif­fer­ent cel­e­bra­tion, and one with heart. Get­ting a crowd to an in­dus­trial park out­side Syd­ney is no mean feat, but Andie Halas (pic­tured) is a very per­sua­sive and pas­sion­ate woman. She founded the char­ity Thread To­gether in 2012 and has seen first-hand the change it can bring to peo­ple’s lives.

“We get end-of-line stock from fash­ion houses, re­tail­ers and whole­salers, and then we re­dis­tribute it to char­i­ties around Aus­tralia,” Halas tells Buzz. “We’re ba­si­cally a pipeline for com­pa­nies that have too much for peo­ple that have too lit­tle.” You could say it’s the fash­ion equiv­a­lent of Ronni Kahn’s OzHar­vest food dis­tri­bu­tion ser­vice.

Halas un­der­stood the sit­u­a­tion through her fam­ily’s fash­ion busi­ness, Seafolly. To­day, Thread To­gether col­lab­o­rates with about 100 char­i­ties and or­gan­i­sa­tions, and in five years has helped clothe about 100,000 peo­ple. These re­cip­i­ents could be sur­vivors of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, for­mer in­mates, refugees, long-term un­em­ployed or the home­less. There are about 20 fash­ion com­pa­nies in­volved, with la­bels in­clud­ing Ben­don, Cue and Taro­cash.

The event in­cluded not only a speech from for­mer NSW gov­er­nor Marie Bashir but an­other from a sur­vivor of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence who fled with her chil­dren with noth­ing but the clothes on their backs — they were soon out­fit­ted by Thread To­gether through a women’s shel­ter.

One thing Halas is par­tic­u­larly proud of is that it gives peo­ple dig­nity. They are given a voucher for a new wardrobe by their re­fer­ring or­gan­i­sa­tion, and can come and choose their own new clothes. “Peo­ple who are do­ing it tough are just hu­man be­ings, and we need to look at them as in­di­vid­u­als and al­low them to choose, be them­selves, par­tic­u­larly at a time when they are feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble or fear­ful.”

Mon­day night’s event raised over $100,000, mean­ing the char­ity can buy a van to take a mo­bile wardrobe to re­gional ar­eas.

For Halas, the ini­tial rea­son for start­ing Thread To­gether has opened up a whole new area of sat­is­fac­tion. “I un­der­stand the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact,” she says, “but for me now it’s very much about the so­cial im­pact.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, see thread­to­gether.org. Of course, by the time many of you are read­ing this col­umn, we will know the out­come of the Aus­tralian Mar­riage Law Postal Sur­vey. The fash­ion in­dus­try has been vo­cal in its sup­port of a Yes vote for mar­riage equal­ity, with sev­eral brands pro­mot­ing the cause, in­clud­ing Gor­man, which gave away “Love is Love” tees to thou­sands of peo­ple who could prove their vot­ing en­rol­ment; Moga, which cre­ated a rain­bow scarf; Mon­dial by Na­dia Neu­man, which cre­ated a cam­paign to ac­com­pany its long-run­ning mar­riage equal­ity ring; and Puma and its #LetUsAl­lTieTheKnot cam­paign. ( Geor­gia Perry’s Love pin, pic­tured, was cer­tainly timely, and, un­sur­pris­ingly, is out of stock.) Hun­dreds in the fash­ion and cre­ative in­dus­tries came to­gether for a group photo in Septem­ber that flooded so­cial me­dia — es­pe­cially once Mi­randa Kerr re­posted to her 11.5 mil­lion fol­low­ers. Just yes­ter­day, Sports­girl flew the flag on In­sta­gram, with com­ments rang­ing from the su­per sup­port­ive to oth­ers in­vok­ing the ig­neous, show­ing yet again how di­vi­sive this process has been. Buzz is cross­ing fin­gers for a re­sound­ing Yes. Be­cause equal­ity is al­ways in fash­ion.

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