Wo­man of the cloth

An un­com­pro­mis­ing stance us­ing eth­i­cal and fairly traded fab­rics for her cloth­ing has stood an Auck­land fash­ion de­signer in good stead.

Element - - Fashion -

When El­e­ment caught up with fash­ion de­signer Mi­randa Brown, she was just catch­ing her breath af­ter New Zealand Fash­ion Week 2011. “Fash­ion Week is a gi­ant project, it is so much more than the clothes,” she says. “You’ve got to find the shoes and the mod­els and the make-up.” Mi­randa Brown Con­scious Cloth has been at the fore­front of New Zealand’s sus­tain­able fash­ion scene since 2002.

“The col­lec­tion is called ‘All the crea­tures great and small’,” she says.“we’ve used a lot of im­agery of New Zealand’s lost wildlife, like the laugh­ing owl and the huia, to try and bring aware­ness to our na­tive an­i­mals and the oth­ers that we could also lose.”

From merino capes with laser cut-outs of owls, to more consumer-ori­ented merino dresses, all of Mi­randa Brown’s col­lec­tion for next win­ter uses sus­tain­able and eth­i­cal fab­rics and dyes.

“We are made up of the same sub­stances that the earth is,” she says. “It doesn’t take a rocket sci­en­tist to work that out and there is a re­ally con­scious shift hap­pen­ing in the in­dus­try now that we are too hard on na­ture.

“The quadru­ple bot­tom line for me is the bal­ance of eco­nom­i­cal, en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and spir­i­tual well­be­ing.” From her stu­dio in West­mere, Mi­randa de­signs her gar­ments with trace­able and lo­cally pro­duced MAPP Merino, where she can trace the fab­ric back to a par­tic­u­lar farm.

“We use or­ganic cotton, linen and silk that we source from over­seas,” she says.

“Peo­ple ac­tu­ally die from the pes­ti­cides used in cotton pro­duc­tion and that is not some­thing I want to be a part of.

“Be­cause of this we’re grow­ing Fair­trade or­ganic cotton and work­ing with the not-for-profit sec­tor to im­prove the lives of cotton farm­ers.”

All of the con­tract pro­duc­ers the de­signer works with are cho­sen for their Fair Trade sta­tus.

“Dy­ing fab­ric is the hard one. Vegetable dyes can lose their colour quicker than metal-based dyes, but they con­tain lots of nas­ties that are bad for the environment.

“We use dyes that are GOTS (Global Or­ganic Tex­tile Stan­dard) ap­proved.

“They have min­i­mal heavy me­tals and we don’t waste any. If the dye isn’t all ab­sorbed into the fab­ric, we’ll dye more cloth to use it all.”

With a back­ground in film and cos­tume de­sign, Mi­randa shifted her fo­cus to her own la­bel and projects in 2002, and in­sists she is more of an artist than a fash­ion de­signer.

“I call my­self an artist and I want to ap­ply a life­style phi­los­o­phy to the busi­ness sec­tor,” she says.

For up­com­ing sea­sons, Mi­randa will keep look­ing for sus­tain­able fab­rics, and en­cour­ag­ing other fash­ion de­sign­ers to do so.

“I think we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to be ask­ing where every­thing comes from, and try­ing to be more sus­tain­able with the way we use our re­sources.”

Be­low: Photo:

Mi­randa Brown has strict con­trols on her sup­ply lines. Babiche Martens

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