BEHIND THE SCENES: Manufacturing ethical clothing overseas
Not everything from Obus is made in Australia, but that is by no means a bad thing! Ethical fashion production can be undertaken all over the world – the key is choosing manufacturers wisely, and we do so with our high standards front of mind.
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Around five years ago, the diminished state of the knitwear and leathergoods industry in Australia encouraged us to look overseas for specialised businesses who could produce our seasonal knits and footwear, while meeting our high ethical production standards.
Truthfully, it’s been a journey to find overseas partners who understand our ethos and can work with a business of our size to bring our ideas to life. For many manufacturers, we are simply ‘too small’ to partner with. As we mentioned yesterday, producing huge volumes of product is not something we aspire to - yet for many on the manufacturing side of things, consciously producing a small minimum quantity of clothing or footwear styles is often a dealbreaker. Which we’re sure you’ll agree is a sad state of affairs, given that there is a crisis of fast fashion today and an oversupply of poor-quality clothing on the market.
But nevertheless, we persisted! As we detailed on the blog last year, Kylie undertook a factory research tour in China in 2018, and we now work with Dongguan-based knitwear and Yunnan-based footwear manufacturing partners.
From a design perspective, it’s very freeing to work closely with manufacturers who have decades of knowledge and the latest technology to make excellent products at an affordable price. But we’re also thrilled to be in tune with them on an ethical level. Our knitwear factory is BSCI accredited and audited annually to confirm all aspects of their workplace conditions are in accordance with human rights, ILO conventions and national labor law. Our footwear is made by a small team dedicated to producing made-to-order limited runs of bespoke shoes in an ethically and environmentally conscious way (you might remember them from this blog last year!).
While leather is a natural product, there are environmental considerations when it comes to tanning, dyeing and producing products from it. We work with our partners to assist us at this level too. They help to ensure leather is sourced from tanneries that have strict environmental controls in place.All material comes from farmed animals, and is vegetable dyed (not chemical dyed with nasties like chromium).
We want to assure customers that products can be manufactured in China ethically, and the first step is to increase transparency around our overseas production processes (so both we and you can make informed decisions).Having chosen our manufacturers after an extensive research process and site visits, we can be confident that those who produce our footwear and knitwear are respected, have safe working conditions and are remunerated fairly. We're excited to be creating products with them thanks to their decades of specialist craftsmanship and their passion for investigating new ethical materials and processes.