Audrey Blue: Sustainable Clothing Design

Its FashFest time again in Canberra and one designer in particular caught our eye this year.  Audrey Blue is a local label, creating “affordable, eco-friendly, ethical clothing designed to suit you, your body shape and your lifestyle” (taken from www.audreyblue.com).

Hannah-Parris---AB-founderWe conducted an interview with Audrey Blue founder Hannah Parris to find out more about the eco-friendly label…

Q1) Why ‘Audrey Blue’, is there a story behind the name?
 It was originally the name of a friend’s dog! Actually I wanted a name for the label that wasn't specifically referencing the "eco" credentials of what we do, because I wanted to promote the idea that living ethically wasn't something 'different' to a mainstream label, but rather I saw Audrey Blue as catering to a mainstream market that just happened to be ethical and eco friendly.   The name has taken a life of its own and I often get letters addressed to "Audrey", which I think is lovely.

Q2) You say on your profile on the ‘Audrey Blue’ website that you used to be an eco-activist, what can you tell us about this?
I have been active in the environment movement on and off since I was a teenager -- it has always been a central part of my life.  I currently work as a researcher for Greenpeace, which I love; because it combines my passion for the environment and social justice with my skills as a researcher (I have a PhD in public policy). So er... in combination with running Audrey Blue, life can get pretty busy!

Q3) Fashion is traditionally an industry where the idea of a quick turn-over and waste (in terms of fabrics and consumption) predominates, how did you get interested in the fashion industry and what made you decide to work with sustainable fashion?
Fashion has an awful track record of being environmentally damaging and exploitative of its workers, but it doesn't have to be this way. Fairtrade and organic fashion is about ensuring that the way we produce clothes actively minimises the environmental impact of the production process and ensures that those working in the production chain are not exploited through inadequate wages or dangerous working conditions (among other things).

Done this way – fashion can be a source for good. For example, I am currently working with Jacobs Well in Bangalore in India to produce our FashFest Collection. Jacobs Well was established to give women in the slums of Bangalore the opportunity for well paid, meaningful work and through that, gain economic and social empowerment. It is a privilege to be part of this process.

One of my aims in life is to create opportunities to make it easier for people to pursue a sustainable lifestyle. If we are serious about sustainability, we need to be sustainable in all aspects of our lives – including our wardrobes. I found that this area was underserviced in the market so I started Audrey Blue.

Q4) What is ‘The Suit Project’, and how’s it progressing?
Since eco-fashion is a new and evolving area, we deliberately try and do things that no one else is doing.   No one else is producing eco-friendly or fairtrade business suits for women -- so we set ourselves the challenge to do this for FashFest. It is progressing well and to see the results you will have to come and see us at the show on May 2. :-)

Q5) Why Canberra?
Canberra is where I have lived for over 20 years and where my husband and I have built a solar passive and ecologically sustainable home. There are many aspects of Canberra that combine both the creativity of fashion and the sustainability of what we are about – so it makes sense to be based here.

Q6) How is the preparation going for Fashfest, and what does the future hold for Audrey Blue after Fashfest?
I am honoured to be part of an event like FashFest which is really part of the coming of age for Canberra’s creative community. After FashFest I am intending to take The Suit Project to full production provided that I can secure the funding! Stayed tuned for that one.

Q7) If you had one message you’d like to pass on to future generations what would it be?
 Be true to your values, always think about how you can make the world a better place and don't ever give up.

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