It took designer and yoga enthusiast Julie Belic three months to find the right factory in Bali to make her clothes. Tough location but someone’s gotta do it.
“It’s not hard to find a suitable factory in Bali, there are so many people doing small and large operations,” Julie says.
She designs and makes sustainable yoga wear under the Surrender Apparel label from certified organic cotton printed with unique designs inspired by art and illustrations and Instagram finds.
With degrees in sustainable fashion and international development, Julie prefers to make her clothes in Bali where there is a long tradition of natural dyeing. The factory employs 70 people who work six days a week and where social activities organised by the managers are common.
Julie says it’s difficult for a small manufacturer like her to make clothes in Australia because it’s super expensive when you’re dealing with low quantities since factories here aren’t interested in less than 100 units, at least.
Although Australia has a better reputation than some countries for supporting ethical labour, Julie believes many workers are paid very little (hence the establishment of fashion certification organisation Ethical Clothing Australia which started out of concern for the exploitation of homeworkers in the 1990s and is mostly funded by the Australian Government).
Surrender is not just about producing ethically made yoga wear from sustainable resources; it also considers how the tops and pants will break down after they’re thrown away. Currently the range is 90% biodegradable.
The primary materials are cotton but Julie says the nylon and elastin in them will also biodegrade.
She says, “It’s good for designers to consider everything. There are two things we need to think about: how it is made and what happens with it when the user finishes with it. We also need to think about how the user washes the garment – yoga gear gets washed a lot.”
Julie would like people to use environmentally friendly detergents on her clothes but she doesn’t think many really think about it like she does.
Recycled yoga pants
While Julie loves using natural materials like modal and Tencel (both originate from wood pulp), when it comes to gym gear, they’re not proving as popular as synthetic tops and bottoms.
Determined to meet customer demands and remain eco she’s sourced a supplier of nylon and elastane made from consumer waste, which will also accommodate her funky prints.
By using these materials Surrender will become one of many brands – including La Perla, Triumph and Adidas – that uses eco nylon in some of its range.
The supplier, Econyl, claims 69.2% of fibres made in 2012 were man made and the textile and apparel industries are responsible for 20% of production waste around the world.
A swimwear brand is even using a nylon made from recycled fishing nets found in the ocean.
Surrender’s new range of eco nylon leggings will be out in November. Look out for them surrenderapparel.com.au.