I think I may have given her a mini lecture about a Chinese proverb about looking outside the box when we spoke about the social media obsessed generation and the fashion industry, but she took it with pleasure like the ricotta hotcakes I offered to split. Put your thoughts in the comment box below if you think Endellion should introduce a affordable swimsuit line made from recycled fishing nets to Scout. the label this summer in her bid to give back to the environment.

And someone please make pineapple leather a thing.

Endellion Lucy (EL): In a weird way that whole movement, that whole narcissism movement stemming from the social media generation of excessive selfies and sharing what goes on in your daily life was kind of needed, you know? A stepping-stone to something else. But there will always be some kind of movement against something. It’s an interesting dichotomy, understanding how this movement has affected the luxury market. I worked for quite some time in the luxury end of the fashion industry in Australia and tried my hand in fast fashion for about five years before I started my brand.

(Coffee break)

I lecture and teach in a fashion college here in Sydney, and one of the points of discussion in my classes now is the impact and links between the two types of markets (fast fashion and luxury products), and how they are both necessary. Even more so now with the social media phenomenon, and the role of luxury brands within them. How does fast fashion compete with something like that, and how do they engage customers?

Nicole Fang (NF): Do you think that there is not enough people talking about certain issues in the fashion industry? One of my biggest questions that I have been thinking about from a commercial and creative standpoint is how can we start to be more inclusive as a community?

EL: Well I think that’s why this is so interesting to me. Because that’s one of the driving forces of any industry or market. The community. The reason why I discuss this in class is because that is the future with fashion.

It’s going to be more ethical, there will be more of a community, and there will be more giving back. That movement’s coming through. I’ve been watching the industry for a very long time now and it’s always shifting bit by bit, with thoughts that it may not happen. And to be frank, with anyone wanting to do the right thing and be more ethical in the past, well, the aesthetic wasn’t there. Hence the doubt. You know? But it’s all changing. It’s becoming the new norm.

NF: Yes and I think it’s coming from a growing consciousness. Going back to the social media phenomenon, I would say that people do feel this social responsibility to keep up appearances, especially if you are on a global platform with the power to be able to influence a large following to think a certain way. I mean, many celebrities have been able to use themselves as champions for certain brands and issues, which is a great way to reach a lot of people.

EL: Well you just gotta be nice, right? (laughs). And that’s the thing that always gets overlooked. I spoke about this sort of thing with a good friend of mine from the UK recently who’s worked for almost 15 years as a socially responsible banker. He looks at changes in the fashion supply chains and the importance of transparency going, “Come on guys we have to ask these questions, we have to know the people who make our clothes. We can’t just be riding on someone else’s life like that, it’s not right.”

There’s got to be a happy medium. And I felt that starting my brand. Coming from the luxury segment, I’ve been so fortunate working as a buyer going in and out of Europe. Going to look at these craftsmen and working with incredible people. With fast fashion, I think it’s good to experience that at least once. They are trend-driven and they posses important skills that are taught in that line of work. I was also able to meet some great suppliers at the same time; some that I am still in contact with and they are excellent. They are fair and they are good! I am not damming the fast fashion industry, but I think with any line of work in this industry you still have to be very careful, with the focus on margin, speed and the intensity of the environment that you are in. It’s not always sustainable, it’s not always healthy, and sometimes what’s important may not be the main focus when you have so much other things to worry about. We need a shift, and it’s happening. Moving away from seasonality is one, like my brand where I don’t follow the traditional fashion timeline launches and created each line in phases where seasonally categorized pieces can intermingle to offer a more practical way to consume. It’s more of a movement for me, for my pieces, and it gives me more flexibility in my business model where it’s all about adaptability. Things do sell out, because they are designed to be relevant, and that creates demand. If you look at Burberry, they are doing away with seasons. The whole fashion industry is turning on it’s head at the moment. Look at New York Fashion Week; the “buy now again” practices they have adopted are going against the traditional seasons too. That’s some

serious planning because you have to look at it from a supply chain point of view! I’d like to say that they must have been working and planning that way ahead. Normally you’ll gather your orders, and you go through production that takes about three months. They’ve kind of forecasted that in advance, and if they sell out, great! They’ll go again. It’s like the Kylie Jenner makeup kits. That’s plans to sell out for the demand. And how amazing does that look? (Points at hotcakes that have just arrived*).

One thing I am very clear on, and I think part of the reason in some respect why this whole ethical, fair movement has fallen down in the past is that people tend to feel helpless when it comes down to initiating change. From an environmental or moral perspective, especially being only one person. Therefore they block it. But with the whole Fashion Revolution, why I think that it’s (encouraging more ethical practices in the manufacturing industry) going to work now is because there are recognizing signs that there is a shift, which is good! But at the same time we are also only human, and where this has gone in the past is the community’s tendency towards nitpicking. Like wearing leather shoes. Not being entirely puritan in what you believe in. Well to be like that is not being human. At the end of the day, every choice that we make in a positive way makes a difference. And like the Malcom Gladwell tipping point phenomenon, that’s how you make real change happen. When people are happy and don’t feel pressured. They are empowered to feel like they can do something about it.

They are empowered enough to want to make a positive change in what they believe in where such an effect then snowballs. Yes everyone would love to be more idealistic and be perfect at the first attempt, but we won’t always be able to balance that line between our wants. But with that knowledge and belief that you share as a community on a certain issue, you are ensuring responsibility as well as doing the right thing.

NF: And I think that’s where the idea of both masstige products and independent designers campaigning for transparent manufacturing practices came into play. Having elements of quality and that ethical consciousness. They behave like luxury brands; have friendlier price points, which are fantastic ways to target and educate the younger customer segments on the wider issues and beliefs of the entire industry.

EL: I ended up doing a government grant scheme, the same one that Lisa Messenger did. And fusing my backgrounds together, solid luxury goods, and my love for fabrics with what I picked up in fast fashion. But I was very clear after all of that, that we could still be fair to people and still get a result. It’s not rocket science, and it boils down to attitude and mindset. My sister said once to me that maybe I was being a little too nice to people in fashion. (laughs)

NF: What’s wrong with being nice to people in fashion?

EL: Exactly my point! (laughs) And I just went,” Nonononono, something has to change!” Is that not the whole point of it? If we get some pieces that we feel really good about what we are wearing, no one’s been starved or underpaid in the process of making any given product, and everyone’s happy then we’ll start being able to look outwards instead of inwards.

NF: I read recently about how bloggers were viewed by the fashion industry’s elite in regards to the Milan fashion week this year. Doesn’t that seem to be a reflection of how this community views specific things? Especially to the general public that aren’t necessarily involved in this line of work?

EL: It’s a crazy industry (laughs), one of the oldest and yet how it has come to what it is, being very new. It wasn’t that long ago where people weren’t respecting designers, started including diversity, or even thought much of it (working in fashion)as a job.

NF: With respect to designers, ethics has always been a very grey area in fashion.

EL: It is, and I get a bit funny about being quoted too much about this issue, you tend to set yourself up for falls. Because everyone will have their own take of what you say or do. And we are only human, all we can do is make decisions the best way that we can with the right intention. Something that I should have said in the beginning as a disclaimer (laughs). It’s all about being transparent as the bottom line, being able to effectively communicate. Speaking to all your stakeholders: your manufacturers, sources and customers. Even asking about price, Like when I speak with my makers and she quotes me a price I tend to ask, “Are you sure? Is that a fair price to you?”

I like to have those sorts of conversations; we chat with each other, and we are honest with each other. I like to ask, “How are you?” and find up what they are up against because you never know what you may find. Both for the good or for the worse. And I like to give back as well to these communities, what we can do for positive change. Like Everlane, they are doing a good job in making a good point about price transparency. Showing us how much each step in the manufacturing process costs, what they do, and what their customers will see. Something like this is a hard one to do as a smaller business without the support of the community because it’s very new and unknown. But at the very least when you go to a factory to discuss production, make sure that you work with them. It’s about being a team.

NF: What are your thoughts on how your brand reflects what you believe in ethical fashion?

EL: I thrive off relationships, I like making connections and problem solving. I wanted to create a brand where I create pieces of great quality, and with a very fair consumer price. I love bonding with my makers and helping each other out. When I sell my products to my customers, I love chatting and communicating with them. And I’m at my happiest when I am creative, and you find all these little communities popping around what you do. It’s all about getting everyone together to build something that everyone is passionate about.


NF: That is your own way of trying to make this industry a little more inclusive?

EL: Yes! It’s about bringing everyone together.

NF: Well I did share with your earlier on about this article I’ve written from a young consumer’s perspective. Main question about the article is how do we engage them? How do they fit into this community? Sometimes for the general public – and I am going to relate this to food as well – they may not be able to afford a triple digit price tag for something they would prefer to alternate constantly. It may not be their cup of tea. Literally. And one of my conclusions was using some sort of a stepping-stone to gain knowledge and start to understand how the fashion world operates. Like fast fashion. The only problem with that are the methods many of them (the fast fashion companies) tend to take in order to make quotas or increase their profits through volume etc.. Information that doesn’t always get shared with the public.

EL: Well why would they care right? They have limited resources, even though now according to social studies they do have more disposable incomes than a lot of other age groups. For the younger ones coming through, it’s a tricky one to navigate I have to admit. It’s all about education, especially with social media. It’s quite inward looking; very want, very now type of mentality. But it’s about thinking out of the box. Asking questions again. Like,“How did this article of clothing get here?” can be a simple starting point. Questions like this help to humanize the supply chain. It helps recognize craft again, which is a big thing to do even as an individual. People who make clothes are skilled workers, and they should be celebrated! When I had the privilege in the past to visit family businesses in Europe, like a family of knitters for example where their practices have been the same for generations. I loved viewing their archives and asking questions, “How do you make them?” “What’s the best stitch for a particular product?” A Hermès exhibition in Europe had previously brought over all these Italian craftsmen and set up them up into different sections for people to wander around. In each section you’ll see say, a watchmaker that you can observe how they make a watch. And they’ll give you details of how it was made, how long it took and the steps involved. Many other wonderful things they showcased were saddles, leather products and rings. You could chat with them to learn more about their craft too, what they were doing, and who they were. And it was a powerful message to consumers. They even had postcards that you could send to your loved ones with their information or what they did. I thought that was well played because they were also sending out that message to people not necessarily interested or involved in the fashion world. Smart brand marketing. Dior Homme was another favorite of mine where the documentary was so well made celebrating traditional craftsmanship.

NF: How can customers balance such conflicting ideals of wanting to support ethical production all the time but are unable to do so with financial restraints?

EL: That goes back to my previous point, something that is perfect in conjunction with the Fashion Revolution. Every choice you make helps.

NF: What do you think about companies that are looking to implement more transparent practices and wanting to ensure fairer trade not only with their customers but also their manufacturers? Especially from an organization’s perspective?

EL: Within that there’s got to be an element of flexibility at the end of the day for these companies. It’s the eternal conundrum! Like, “Okay if we are lacking in this, what can we do to make it up?” However you need to be commercially driven or you’ll go under as a business. That’s the bottom line. It’s engaging in creative problem solving. One of my favorite movies is Mademoiselle C. I love her. I very much admire her. Because she is a pioneer of the idea that you can be driven and succeed in the fashion industry. But you can do it with humor, kindness and respect. That respect then comes back to her. And humor is the root of everything right? I mean if you can deal handle a big disaster with humor, it’s easier to get through it. If you watched Roitfeld in that documentary you’ll see at one point they were faced with problems after problems during a big scheduled shoot. The model pulls out, everyone’s freaking out and that it’s been proclaimed a fashion disaster with a lot of money at stake. But you can just see that she’s just dealing with it. She was trying to find a way around it and not hammering at someone else asking for answers.

NF: Three tips of initiating fairer practices?

EL: 1. Ask questions. Open communication and connections. The key to being ethical is asking questions. Who made my clothes? Look at your costings and take note if you are paying too much for middlemen because they cost more than going to such sources directly, and it gives you more control over what you are paying for. Quoting Fashion Revolution, but if you don’t ask those questions, what’s the point of all of that really? And just being aware. Look at Cotton On for example, they actually do a very good job in being very ethical, they’ve got good ratings for their production practices now. If you look at them and Everlane’s industry footprints, its actually possible. These companies have shown us that they can produce big units, they can be transparent, and yet they are able to insist for certain standards with their makers and say, “This is the level of life these workers manufacturing our products must have that is acceptable and and is expected for them”. But as I said, we are human, everyone makes mistakes. That’s why with that it is always an ongoing expectation to fulfill. It’s got to be audited regularly, and do what we can do to ensure everyone gets a fair slice of that pie. We will not always have perfect information to anything, especially when you have an intention to do something you know? There will always be someone or something questioning your choices, there will always be a question mark you cannot solve. Thats’s why 2. It’s up to the individual to make decisions the best they can after asking questions. Creative problem solving can help you to reach compromises where all sides are happy. It’s better if everyone is open about everything than it boiling up inside cause otherwise you’ll find out later, sometimes too late that it was a problem. And 3. Educate your customers when required. One of the biggest issues is the problem of consumer education. And it’s still a shifting process, you could do what you need to do but you’ve got to find ways to connect with your customers. Collaborations can be key and again it’s all about community and the people around you.



*editor’s note: yes the hotcakes were so good we forgot to take pictures of them. But check them out at Harry’s Bondi.

Put your thoughts in the comment box below if you think Endellion should introduce a affordable swimsuit line made from recycled fishing nets to Scout. the label this summer in her bid to give back to the environment.

And what do you think of faux leather made from pineapples?

Follow Scout.the label on Instagram and Twitter links here and here .

shot with Canon 6D and 24-105mm lenses