Australia vs the UK

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Being “sustainable” is not a straightforward thing.There is no set guide, no perfect formula. It also changes depending on where you are, who you are and your intentions and interactions.

Part of being sustainable seems also to be about nurturing differences and not creating the “perfect way”

Yes, organic cotton might be something to think about, but if everyone only used organic cotton then it would not be sustainable.

Variety in agriculture that suits the natural landscape, innovative uses of technical products, not relying on coal and oil. Looking at your surroundings and working with them is integral in achieving sustainability.

But suddenly there are so many options. And, with globalisation, these options exponentially increase.

So what do you do?

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I have been at SOURCE Expo in London for the last couple of days. It was a trade fair dealing with sourcing and manufacturing ethically and sustainably.

I met some lovely people, got some more fabric source contacts, but there was nothing that really grabbed me and engaged me. I wanted something that I could be inspired by and add into my own business plan, but everyone was doing things in such an entirely different way that they seemed currently irrelevant (obviously not to the world, but to my business)

On the first day I got very excited about British wool. You may know by now that i really like wool. Wool mills, wool fabrics, just sheep in general.
I found a stand of wonderful woven wools which were British sheep with British wool that were British woven and dyed and I thought, brilliant!

The natural non dyed wools were too course for Australian climate. You would have to wander around Scotland in winter to wear them.
The finer weaves though were stunning and just as I was thinking through which ones I wanted and having ideas about what to do with them…. I found out that they were with australian merino. Only the coarse fabrics were British.

It’s not that that is necessarily a problem.

It just throws up a few questions.

Support local industry? Or consider the world?

As I’ve said in previous blogs, Australia does not manufacture much. We sell raw produce and then buy it back.

If you only want to sell to Australians, then it might not be such an issue. You can buy a little woven wool from NZ and buy other fabrics from India and America and they will have gone half way around the world – but just the once. You then make and sell in Australia.

Buy Australian wool woven in Italy or the UK and the wool will have travelled a full circle of the globe- but that’s still just the once.

But what if you want to expand? There is a limited population in Australia therefore limited money. Comparatively, Australia’s whole population is nearly 10million less than just Tokyo. New York City has only a few million less than our entire country.

If I buy Australian wool, woven in the UK, manufactured into a garment in Melbourne and sold to a Londoner. The garment has been around the globe twice – and that’s not including the silk lining, the buttons or zips…

I currently use organic cotton and hemps that are grown and woven in Texas. They come halfway around the world, but just the once.
Business wise I would be better off manufacturing in the US as well so I could sell to Europe without the huge carbon miles from transport.

Or I would be better off using European fabrics and manufacturing and selling in Europe.

But then, what about Australia?

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