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As part of our partnership with west elm, Obus' founder Kylie Zerbst was recently invited to share her thoughts on building a conscious-brand, being a responsible consumer, and how personal style is evolving in a socially conscious day and age.
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In front of an audience of design lovers at west elm's Prahran store, Kylie was joined on stage by west elm's head of visual merchandising, Rhys Duggan (the stylist behind our makeover!), and freelance stylist, Heather Nette-King.
Alongside a lively discussion about supporting companies that are transparent about their manufacturing, or sourcing materials that are organic, recycled or biodegradable, there was agreement between the panel about purchasing with intent. In both fashion and home wares, purchasing one special item that will last, instead of multiple ‘throwaway’ items can mean a lot when it comes to being an environmentally-minded consumer. Kylie talked about always shopping with one's own values front-of-mind – whether that be supporting a local business, a business that focuses on the labour rights of its workers, one that is female-owned, or that is transparent about its product supply chain.
Rhys talked about the changes west elm are making from a social and environmental perspective. Their Vice President of Social Consciousness travels the world to ensure the artisans who make west elm's handcrafted items such as rugs, vessels, and cushions operate in in good working conditions and are, of course, paid fairly. She is committed to ensuring west elm continues to move in this direction and makes meaningful impact on these communities. They also discussed west elm's shifts in product manufacturing to establish themselves as a leader in the ethical and environmental homewares sector, such as ensuring all bedding is organic and GOTS-certified by 2020, and assisting over 50,000 workers across the world with continuing education and health programs.
Overall, the message of the evening was about how two brands, in different areas of design, can align and strive for better. Both Obus and west elm have brand values that permeate everything they create. There is still a lot to fix in the fashion and homewares industry and as a brand, Obus tries to continually improve each season – in whatever way we can. We hope that we also inspire others to change their habits and mindset, too