Fashion with a conscience

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Australia designers use Army goods in their creations

by Andrea Redford –

A model walks the runway in merchandise from a Salvo store.

In early October, the Australia Eastern Territory’s Salvos Stores (thrift stores) launched the “fashion with a conscience” campaign.

Two hundred invited guests previewed designs using recycled clothing by fashion students from the Whitehouse Institute of Design and Project Runway contestant Alison Davis.

According to Neville Barrett, Salvos Stores general manager in the territory, the campaign’s aim is to teach customers how to get the most out of shopping and to communicate the environmental, financial and social benefits of shopping at their stores.

“You’re not only getting a great bargain, you’re helping others in need and those less fortunate,” Barrett said. “All proceeds generated by the sale of goods in our stores help to fund The Salvation Army’s vital work in the community.”

Barrett said having professional stylists, models and photographers in the Salvos Stores has created enthusiasm for the stores. Local television approached Barrett to get involved in the campaign and Make Me A Supermodel recently filmed an episode at a store in Sydney.

On the show, contestants were challenged to carefully select recycled garments and then walk the catwalk wearing their creations. They were judged by Jackie Frank (Marie Claire magazine editor) and Sydney-based fashion designer Kirrily Johnston.

“I think there has always been a love of finding a second-hand bargain, but campaigns like this bring awareness to the environmental benefits [of recycled fashion], and also the importance of Salvos Stores themselves,” Johnston said.

Johnston’s recent collection included outfits created from second-hand garments sourced from Salvos Stores.

She plans to continue creating garments using recycled clothing and to sell them with a “Salvos StoresFashion with a conscience” tag in her boutiques worldwide, with a portion of sales going back to the Army.

Like Johnston, fashion design students from Melbourne’s RMIT University created their own collection of garments using clothes from Salvos Stores as part of the Recreate 08 fashion show staged by Salvos Stores in the Australia Southern Territory.

Each of the 14 students was allowed to take four items from across 10 different Salvos Stores; they created 77 outfits from garments, tablecloths, woolen coats, and even a beaded car seat cover.

“Promoting sustainable fashion and working with the students is fun, but it’s also important that the real message of why we operate in the first place is clear,” said Laura Jackson, Australia Southern Territory Salvos Stores marketing manager.

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