Recap | AFC x ECA Afternoon Session

Recap | AFC x ECA Afternoon Session

A big thank you to designer Bianca Spender, Kate Bielenberg (Retail Brand Manager, Cue), Melinda Tually (Director, Ndless) and Angela Bell (National Manager, Ethical Clothing Australia) for taking part in an engaging conversation on ethical practice and local manufacturing at our Sydney Afternoon Session earlier this week!

For those who couldn't make it along, you can find some of the key takeaways from the session below.

Thank you to our event partners City of Sydney, Handpicked Wines and UTS Business School!



Key Takeaways


Best practice when working with local makers and manufacturers;

Constantly maintaining relationships with your local makers is absolutely key to success. You need to work to their level of expertise and their strengths.

Be flexible and create a true partnership with your makers by focussing on collaboration rather than viewing them as purely as a 'contractor' or 'employee'.

Be as agile as possible when working with your local makers. An open dialogue and mutual respect is essential.

Due to locally made Australian fashion being such a niche market, it’s a distinguishing factor for a brand to be involved with and utilise to their advantage.


The challenges with making locally and producing ethically;

It takes work to get the balance right between design and production and you have to develop a business model to make sure that it all comes come together and that your makers have the right amount of work, at the right times.  

There are difficulties with finding local makers - there is a lot of secrecy, with designers often not sharing information with other designers.

We often don’t believe in our own industry - there is still an association amongst consumers that international is better and this is something that we need to keep challenging.

Deciding between onshore and offshore manufacturing can be a balancing act between satisfying price sensitive markets vs the higher price tag attached to locally made fashion. Local production can however allow for smaller runs at a lower cost than overseas and quicker turns around times, allowing your brand to be more responsive.


There are solutions to these challenges;

We need a revival of capital investment into manufacturing and skills & training to ensure the local industry has a future. This is about collaboration with the private sector, as government support is quite difficult to get.

It’s also about the industry coming together and sharing. The more we share, the greater the opportunities for everyone.

For emerging designers - don’t try to do everything at once. ‘Sustainability’ and ‘ethical practice’ can be daunting, so take baby steps and chip away at it.


Photographer: James Kai @thejameskai


With thanks to our panel,


Ethical Clothing Australia

This session was a collaboration between the Australian Fashion Council and Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA). ECA is an accreditation body working towards a more transparent and accountable textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry in Australia, one that values ethical business practices and the rights of garment workers.

A number of AFC Members are also accredited by ECA, including: A.BCH, Allora Capes, Bianca Spender, Carla Zampatti, Cue, Manning Cartell, Nobody Denim, Remuse and Viktoria & Woods.

To find out more info on the ECA and how to become accredited follow the link below...



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