Sustainable business, fashionably!

Yesterday’s Weekend DomPost had, in it’s glossy ‘your weekend’ section, a rather good article by Sharon Stephenson, about Laurie Foon of Starfish, a designer I’ve long been a fan of.
[My attempt to post the link has failed, as the stuff website seems to jealously guard the contents of the weekend magazine!]

During the last election campaign, her staff were unfailingly helpful if I was doing the rounds with posters or fliers to put in shop windows; and we often took a while, having a chat about new products they had in stock using recycled or sustainable produced materials, such as their sneaker lines and some of the new textiles that were coming in for summer.

I was a ‘Jive Junkies’ regular back at the turn of the millenium, and frequently had Sarah, the manager of the Cuba St store, send items back to the Starfish workroom to be altered to fit me perfectly. Never a quibble, just an attitude of ‘make it work’.
One time, I brought in a vintage ‘little black dress’, and asked Sarah if we could swing it through the workroom, before I wore it to a showing of ‘Les Miserables’ at the St James. Not only did she set that up, she also whipped out her pintin, heaved me into a dressing-room, and made sure that we had the dress pinned to the exact fit. Those were the days!

I was a fan for life, until the redoubtable Sarah was finally beaten into submission by the Left Bank body corporate, shutting her shop and heading back to hometown, Auckland.
However, my love of Laurie Foon’s designs has stayed with me, and I am frequently a ‘swing through’ at the beginning of the season to check out what’s new in fabrics and styles.

This year, as the article says, Starfish have a winter collection inspired by the Rita Angus Exhibition at Te Papa, curated by Jill Trelawney, who I interviewed about her biography of Angus. I can’t wait for this lot to hit the racks, and I imagine I’m going to seriously compromise my budget somewhere, because from the pix shown in the paper, this will be a lovely collection to own a piece or two from.

More about Starfish’s sustainable ethics here, from the Wellingtonian, and here, from the DomPost again, when Foon first began promoting her sustainability credentials.

I’m probably the fashion industry’s worst nightmare, in spending terms – I rarely buy on a whim, I prefer to buy directly from NZ designers, (most preferably local to Wellington) and I have made some spectacular wins in the Auckland sales in times past. And, god forbid, I occasionally sew my own designs up for special occasions, like the dress I finished at lunchtime on my graduation day, last year!

I’m a fan of vintage clothing, a trick I picked up from a few great set-dressers I worked with at one time. ‘Recycled Clothing’ has gained a cachet that old-school opp-shopping never had – and I both buy from, and donate clothes to, my favourite second-hand charity shop. (Opportunity for Animals, if you’re asking – branches in Newtown and Kilbirnie, all proceeds go to animal welfare projects in Aotearoa/New Zealand)

So, file this story under ‘fangirl’, ‘buy local campaigns’, and ‘Welli fashion celeb’s’, however you like; but do go and have a look at a designer who has put her ethics and her profits into the same (beautifully stitched) pocket, and manages to find a sustainable win-win even in the current recessional business climate.

Buying localer

Can you make a New Year’s resolution after the event? Apparently you can, because I did so yesterday – when I run out of basic food necessities or need that single item, as I so often do, I’m going to buy them at the local dairy, instead of the supermarket. It’s only a brisk 20 minute walk to our smallish local supermarket, and that’s in a shopping centre where I can also (and do) visit the doctor, dentist, hairdresser, postal centre and hardware store, so we’re really very well provided, but in the meantime, the little corner shops even closer continue to close.

You can see their ghosts every few hundred metres along busy roads, converted into flats and houses with rather large picture windows. Our nearest dairy, just at the top of our drive and opposite our bus stop, closed for business about 18 months ago. Even though it was bought by a craftsperson who uses the large open shop space to practise his trade, he wasn’t able to stop the zoning reverting from commercial to residential, so cannot use it as a shop. However we are lucky to have another extant dairy within 400 metres, on a busier road, and it is this one I have resolved to help keep in business. Nor is it a hardship – my favourite loaf of bread is the same price as in the supermarket, milk and spread a bit more, but well within the margin of what I would spend in fuel or time if I drove or walked the extra kilometer to save those few cents.

The time might come when it’s a real struggle to walk that hilly trip to the shopping centre, and then I’ll really need that little shop, so I’ll use it now, as well as the supermarket, and the wholefoods shop, and the farmer’s market, to make sure it’s still there then.