I find buying sustainable clothes really hard.

I used to worry only about the ethics of how they were manufactured. I’m really glad it’s now easier to find fair-trade or ethically made clothes, but I still wonder about how the fabrics are made. There’s not enough information about how sustainably the fibre is grown, whether the people who manufacture it are treated ethically and what the environmental impacts of the fabric processing and dyeing are. So far my solution has been to buy only second-hand via thrift stores and clothing swaps. It suits me pretty well to gather what I need from the cast offs of others, but there are always a few items that are hard to find (a pair of good fitting dress pants are worth their weight in gold!). I could make my own, but I don’t have good sources for pre-loved fabric and yarns. Setting up a Fibershed could be a good way to deal with my problem.

What is Fibershed?

Fibershed started with one woman in California creating a wardrobe for herself using only dyes, fibers and labour sourced within 150 miles of where she lived. She teamed up with farmers and artisans to build the wardrobe and this is where I get really excited – the project is all about discovering who grows the resources in your area, and connecting them up with the people who create things with those resources. Others are obviously excited by this idea too – there are now at least 15 similar projects all over the world.

That sounds like a really hard thing to do

I agree! I had setting up a Fibershed on my ‘things to do one day’ list until I read this post by a blogger who is setting up her Fibershed in Perth, Australia. She was calling on others take up the challenge and one person from my hometown of Melbourne had put her hand up. All of a sudden, this seemed like a crazy, but vaguely possible project to take on.

How am I going to do this?

Apart from sheer grit and determination? I’m going to keep to Nicki’s ground rules:

Map of my Melbourne Fibershed region

My Melbourne Fibershed region

  • the fibre must be farmed and processed within 500km of Melbourne, Victoria (this map tool is a great way to visualise the area I have to work with)
  • all fibres must be natural
  • any dyeing must also use local non synthetic materials
  • all fabric and clothing made must be of quality construction so as to ensure the life of the clothing is long, and not need excessive ironing or washing.

Given I’ve never made a garment for myself, let alone a whole outfit, I’m not going to get too hung up on what (if anything!) I’m able to make by April 2016. What I’m really interested in is getting to know my local:

  • Growers
  • Processors
  • Manufacturers
  • Creators

I don’t know much, but I do know that Australia was built on ‘the sheep’s back’ and at the very least I should be able to knit an item of local wool. I also know that Victoria has a long and proud manufacturing industry, as well as a strong fashion culture. I’m interested to see what leads I can follow there. Wish me luck!

Source: Setting up a Fibershed for Melbourne, Australia