A.BCH PT. 2

 

Part 1 of my chat with Courtney Holm of A.BCH

 

How can I tell if a brand is ethical or uses organic materials?

“GOTS certification is really great to look for. Fair trade is also really good. I wish there was an easy answer for that question.
You need to do your research and you really need to know. I rarely say “we are sustainable” because at the end of the day we’re really using resources of the planet. What we’re doing isn’t like “helping the planet in itself” but it’s much better than whatever else is out there.
When people are like “oh this is like so green and so sustainable” I’m like a bit suspicious about it. I dislike when brands mislead, you have to kind of know a bit yourself. I think one of the best things you can do is research fibre. Knowing what fibre is sustainable.

For e.g., this is largely debunked, but a lot of people think bamboo is a sustainable fibre. And bamboo itself is a growing plant, fantastically sustainable, it grows crazy without chemicals and limited water. But when you cut it up and process it, it’s the processing that’s not great. It uses a really heavy chemical process, but a lot of people forget about that. But it’s not sustainable. There is actually no trace of bamboo in bamboo fabric in the end. Unless you use bamboo linen, which is bamboo beaten up into fibres and processed into a yarn without any chemical process. It’s done manually without any chemical process and is labour intensive and hard to find.

Most bamboo that you find is bamboo viscous. They take the bamboo, pulp it and then put it in a chemical bath. It’s turned in to a sludge. The sludge is pushed through a spinneroutte, and then put into a bath of acid and turned in to a fibre essentially.

And stuff like that is really hard for someone to know….. and if you knew about the bamboo process and you saw a company marketing it as sustainable you would know it’s not right. So, having fibre knowledge would help.

You know “Good on you” the app, I think it’s a really great start for people who don’t know where to start. I think they are very rigorous in how they check for what a brand is doing. I think it’s a great place to start. I still think that you can do a lot of your own research as well – not just taking one weird article for gospel, but rather researching. I think that someone reads an article “organic cotton takes more water than normal cotton”, they think it’s it right etc. It all takes a bit of time and effort unfortunately.

You can say that “ok cool, that fast fashion brand is doing something good and it’s better than nothing”. But in my opinion, fast fashion and sustainability are not compatible, as they are based on mass consumption. And the whole system is floored, if we keep on going at the rate then we are going to run out of natural resources.

I don’t think the big turnover companies are able to be ethical or environmentally friendly. I don’t think that’s possible. I wouldn’t shop there personally. I would look for smaller to mid size businesses that are able to fulfil that promise, and not just greenwash or use it as a way to make more sales.”

What are your tips for a sustainable/ethical wardrobe?

“There are lots of different ways to have a sustainable wardrobe, but a good start is to take a look at your wardrobe and look at the items you already have. It might mean its time for a clean and a cull, but keeping the things you really love and have formed a bond with. You might be able to keep as it is or re invent it in the future.

When shopping for new stuff, buying from local labels and researching their ethics and standards before purchasing. Keeping local helps to support the Australian industry and helps local labels to become bigger and better in terms of ethical manufacturing and sustainability.

Reinventing and remaking your existing or thrifted garments, and turning it into something else or something new with a quick DIY. If you aren’t a good seamstress, you can keep your wardrobe fresh by finding cool garments at the thrift store – it’s a bit harder now days to find those standout pieces because of all the crap there. But there is always something there.

Knowing about fibres and looking at labels and decipher them. Don’t just look at the brand as a whole, be knowledgeable about the fabrics they use. Its easy to be tricked by the brands “feel”.

Using Good on You app to research ethical brands.

Keeping in mind the idea of having a capsule wardrobe, keeping it streamlined and classic. Easy to move from season to season. An ideal wardrobe is about 30 pieces or less, that can be worn over and over again. Even transformed to be worn in different ways.
Having a capsual warrobe helps with the “what to wear” decision in the mornings. That “oh my gosh, I have nothing to wear” delima. You can actually be a bit more clear minded about what you are going to wear for the day as you have less choice and aren’t overwhelmed.”

What do you have planned for the future of A.BCH?

“We are working on new products all the time. Focusing on building our customer base in Australia. Hoping to vertically intergrate the business so we are sewing everything in house and keep tabs on every aspect of the business. Finally, the plan is to expand to the US and have a US headquarters and then we can reach the rest of the world.”

Can you recommend some more ethical/sustainable brands?

Kowtow – NZ brand Organic cotton/fair trade. Made in India, fair trade certified. Supporting the fair trade cooperative

Nudie – Melbourne based. Organic cotton. Developing Eco friendly dyes. Good sense of sustainability

Artisanal brands such as Lois Hazel and Scott Benedictine– are a great way to start out and support local labels. If the product is great quality you won’t have to replace it for a long time

Elizabeth Sussan – make everything to order. Conscious of firesrs and use hemp. Wearble for women in different shapes and sizes.

Zady – American brand. Detailed in research. All ethical growth to production is legit. Basics. Good ethos and research.

Thank you, Courtney, for your time and sharing all your knowledge with me and my readers.
I really appreciate it and I can’t wait to see A.BCH grow!

xx

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VINNIES X IRONIC MINIMALIST

The denim in my wardrobe hasn’t been getting enough of a workout recently. I’ve been wearing my favourite pair of pants basically every single day.

Maybe I needed a bit of inspiration to find new ways to style my denim, luckily Vinnies invited me to their August Denim challenge.

Since I love nothing more than finding the perfect op shop bargain, I accepted. Their challenge was to style denim 4 different ways chosen by me.

I headed to my favourite Vinnies on Johnston st that very weekend and got straight to work. After a bit of trial and error with the jeans section (I’m very particular with the style of my denim), I decided to use my existing two pairs of jeans and find some tops/jackets/shirts to wear with them. As any avid thrifter will tell you, it’s always a game of chance when shopping in a thrift shop. You may not find the exact thing you are after, but I think that is the beauty of it. Will you score a vintage Chanel bag or the perfect oversized wool jacket?

After finding my key items (sadly no vintage Chanel, but I did score a really cool 80’s style jumpsuit!) I headed back home to style them.

—————————————————————-

Vinnies Shirt | Asos Jeans | Nakedvice Belt | Dr Martens | Camberwell Market Bag

My first look had to be double denim, something I haven’t been a fan of in the past, but I really love this look and I feel it’s very “Brunswick”.

The shirt is an extremely oversized vintage denim shirt that I tucked into my “mom” jeans to give some shape. The bag was also a Sportsgirl vintage score from the Camberwell Sunday Market

I feel like you could also wear this one with a pair of skinny pants and belt it at the waist to give some shape.

Vinnies Grey Knit | Asos Jeans | Vintage Leather Jacket | Nakedvice Belt | Acne Boots| TDE Bag

My next Vinnies find was a grey loose fit turtle neck jumper. I am actually obsessed with high neck tops/jumpers, so I loved this little find.

Again, I used my “mom” jeans and tucked the top in. This look is a perfect casual weekend look. My leather jacket is a wardrobe staple, so that had to make an appearance!

Vinnies Silk Dress | Lee Jeans | Vintage Leather Jacket | COS Heels | TDE Clutch

I don’t usually wear jeans if I (ever) go out. But this silk Lover dress is a perfect addition to skinny jeans and block heels for a casual catch up with friends. I just tucked it in to make it wearable for the cooler weather.
You could also add a touch of deep red lipstick to glam it up.

Vinnies Shirt | Lee Jeans | Vintage Leather Jacket | COS Heels| TDE Bag

Lastly, I couldn’t resist browsing the men’s section. It’s one of my favourite sections for oversized shirts and jackets, (I even found an awesome Qantas PJ set from there!)
This is kind of what I would imagine I would wear in a casual office situation. The oversized white shirt classes up the skinny jeans.

Ever since embarking on my Zero Waste lifestyle, I have discovered that op shopping is an environmentally friendly way to save money and still look good. In all honesty, would you have known that the above looks are from an op shop? So be like Macklemore and hit up your local thrift store before your local Zara.

Thank you to Vinnies
**Sponsored post – all opinions + images are my own**

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S U S T A I N A B L E

For a while now I have been interested in the sustainable and ethical side of the fashion world. Slow fashion is a move that goes against the current trend of ‘fast fashion’, consumers buy with a conscious and choose natural organic fabrics, ethically produced garments and less of them.
Things such as Project 333, The life-changing magic of tidying up and Minimalism has all sparked a worldwide movement in Slow Fashion.

A.BCH and Council of Textiles and Fashion recently held a “Build a Sustainable Wardrobe” event at St. Collins Lane in Melbourne. Courtney Helm, founder of A.BCH discussed a wide range of topics on how to build a sustainable wardrobe including capsule wardrobes, buying locally, re-invention of garments, labelling and fibres.

Each section was super informative and had beautiful models featuring looks from the designers.

The event also featured a look at other Melbourne designers ranges – Lois Hazel, Lott Studio, Scott Benedictine and Vincent Li. Each designer had a beautiful selection of garments featured for you to try and buy!

I highly encourage you to visit one of the CTF pop-up stores (Emporium and St.Collins Lane) – they rotate different designers, so there will always be a new one there! Also, check out their events if you are interested

Feel free to share your thoughts on the slow fashion movement below

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S I M P L E

On the weekend I like to keep it simple. Culottes, long sleeve top, leather jacket = easy

Is there a go-to look that you wear on the weekend?




Vintage Leather Jacket | H&M Long Sleeve Top | Black Plum Culottes* | Tony Bianco Boots | Nakedvice Bag

Photos by Reannon Smith

*on loan

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A P R I L

April is one of my favourite months, not just because it’s my birth month. But also because the weather is cooling down, but it’s still warm. I can finally wear my jumpers and boots that have been waiting in my wardrobe. Definitely my favourite time of year.

My birthday was a day of low-key celebrations with a High Tea session at the Windsor Hotel. Beautiful finger sandwiches, scones and tea were perfect starters, but the main delight was the desserts buffet! So many yummy looking treats to nibble on. And it was even easter themed, which was a cute touch. But after all that tea and sandwiches, my stomach was already brimming on full. I did manage to sample some wonderful fruit salad and assorted slices. The waitress even brought out a plate with “Happy Birthday Jenna’ written on it in icing and a slice of cake, such a beautiful touch from the Windsor Hotel.

My birthday present actually arrived a week before my birthday as I pre-ordered the Acne Studios Jensen boot in black. It has been a wishlist item for so long that I decided my birthday was the perfect occasion to take the leap.

Acne Studios Jensen Boot in Black

They are seriously the most beautiful boots ever, I could not stop looking at them once I opened that signature blush pink coloured box. I might even do a review of them in the future if anyone is interested.

I have yet to feature them in any blog posts but keep your eyes peeled for their appearance, they are definitely going to be my winter staple!

April was also the month that I reached out via my previous post for pro-bono clients to style for my ASI course. The response was overwhelming and I ended up with plenty of people to help me on my career path in Styling. So thank you to those people who encouraged me.

May is set to be an exciting month with so many people to style and even some collaborations planned, which I am really excited about!

I’d love to hear about your April and the plans you have for May.

xx

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S T Y L I N G

My love of fashion has evolved into an interest in a future as a Stylist, so I am excited to announce that I took that leap and enrolled in a Stylist course at Australian Style Institute. I am excited to develop my newfound skills by gifting three people one of my styling packages, in exchange for a testimonial describing their experience.

 Each session would be normally valued at $997 and will include:

– A style consultation – a one-hour styling session based on finding your style and learning what you need.

– A wardrobe makeover – a three-hour session sorting and refining your wardrobe.

– A personal shopping session – a three-hour session where I will help you explore your shopping needs.

– Wardrobe integration – a one-hour session where we match those new purchases to your existing items to create a wide range of outfits for you.

This package is ideal if:

 – you are struggling to create the perfect wardrobe for the upcoming autumn/winter seasons

– building a capsule wardrobe

– transitioning to a different/new career

– a lifestyle shift resulting in a change of body shape

– looking for a gift for a friend or loved one (Mother’s day!)

If this is something you are interested in, please contact me at [email protected]

*Please note: offer expires 30th May 2017 and $997 value is not redeemable for cash*

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Waste Not, Want Not

Since we have all been affected by the “Kondo Decluttering Bug” we all have mountains of stuff that no longer sparks joy!

But what do we do with all those unwanted pieces of clothing? They are still too good to throw away, and there is no time/don’t have enough items for a market stall. We can donate them!

There are numerous organisations that can take your unwanted items (but don’t donate stuff that can’t be resold, it usually goes to landfill). Both Vinnies and Salvo’s are great, but one stand out is the Ecoture, Waste not, Want not Kick Start Drive. The idea behind the program is that pre-loved clothing and accessories can be donated to them and they will ensure they find a good home. Two of the not-for-profit companies they are partnered with are Wear for Success and St Kilda Gatehouse.

Wear for Success provides professional clothing and work skills training to the unemployed to help support them on their career journey. St Kilda Gatehouse is an organisation that works alongside those involved in street base sex work and helps to counsel them through any tough issues. Both of these organisations routinely need clothing and other items (full lists can be found on both links) to help provide the ongoing help to people in need.

Ecoture will also reward you with Ecoture loop points, which can be redeemed for future discounts and savings, on every donation. To donate some pre-loved clothing of your own (please ensure it is clean, in good condition and can still be worn) head over to Ecoture for details

Follow me on Instagram and view my Instastories to see what I donate!

*Post in conjunction with Ecoture – Waste Not, Want Not Drive*

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3 Q U E S T I O N S

Ever since I was young and discovered the power of my own full-time wage,  I was buying everything and anything. Weekends consisted of buying new things I didn’t need to fit in my already overflowing wardrobe. Supre fluoro slogan tee? yes please! Two for $20 deals? Sign me up!

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realised that it’s better to create a quality staple wardrobe. See my post about my staple wardrobe here. So to help me create and keep my perfect wardrobe, I ask myself 3 questions with every item I consider buying:



1. What is it made of?
Fibres such as cotton, silk and linen breath better
2. What can I wear it with?
Will it go with my fave jeans, skirt, pants? Can I wear it under my leather jacket?
3. Do I already have something similar to it?
Do I need a 5th white tee?

These questions (along with the cost per wear equation**) helped me to create a wardrobe that I love!

**4. Does the cost per wear balance out?
This is only a question for big purchases (such as my Gucci’s) If I am paying $$$$ for it will I wear it enough to make each wear cost less and less?
E.g: $100 silk shirt worn only twice means that you haven’t gotten a positive cost per a wear. This means you should re-evaluate the things you need in your wardrobe**

I also edited out the colours I never wore. Black, white and grey became my most worn colours, I felt comfortable in them and creating outfits is much easier as everything matches!

To keep my wardrobe from over filling, I clean it out every few months or so. To do this I turn all my hangers the opposite way and then when I place an item back after wearing it, I turn the hanger the right way. After my designated time period, whatever hangers are left facing the wrong way are the ones I re-evaluate and decide if they are to stay or go

You don’t need to spend big on every single item to create a quality wardrobe, some of my most worn pieces have been purchased from the markets, op shops, garage sales or on sale. You just need to take into consideration the above 3 questions and shop smarter.

Tips to create a quality “you” wardrobe:

+ Create a mood board on Pinterest or a physical one if you like. Pin images of anything that inspires you (it doesn’t have to be clothing)
+ Cull your wardrobe. Take out things you don’t wear, donate them or organise a market stall. Be brutal, you aren’t going to wear that mini skirt from 4 years ago.
+ Identify the staple items you need in your wardrobe. (see my post here and I found this one helpful)
+ Make a shopping list for yourself. Try to include quality basics, and items you will wear often. Stick to a basic colour palette. I find this one here is useful.

Creating a quality staple wardrobe will take time and experience. It doesn’t mean you can’t wear the latest trend. Just be more careful with it. Ask yourself if really suits you? Can you borrow it from a friend for an event? Maybe buy a similar item from the op shop/market?

By creating a quality staple wardrobe really helps you to define your style, save money and most importantly – get dressed faster!

 Let me know in the comments below if you have started or are interested in a Minimalist lifestyle!

x

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W A R D R O B E

For the past 2 years I have been focusing on re-organising my style and creating a quality wardrobe full of pieces that I enjoy wearing and will wear often. In 2015/2016 I gained some pieces that will remain staples in my wardrobe (Leather Jacket, Gucci slides, Silk Dresses).

These staples can be worn over and over again, reworked with other items and still look good.

My wardrobe essentials include:

* Leather jacket
*Black Cardigan
*Skinny Black Jeans
*Shorts
*Black Pants
*Black, White and Grey Tee
*Black Skirt
*Black and White Shirt
*Quality Boots
*Quality Heels
*Casual Dress/Formal Dress
*Flat shoes such as slides/sneakers
*Accessories such as belts and hats

Building a staple wardrobe for yourself all depends on your personal style. I prefer blacks, whites and grey as a basis for my wardrobe, although I do like to add a touch of seasonal colours such as blush and fatigue.

As you can see from the top image, my wardrobe is getting a bit full. So in the coming weeks I shall be getting all “Konmari” on it!

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