Liberty Cramer is a fashionista from UWA determined to make a difference. Inspired by Fashion Revolution’s movement for sustainable style, Liberty is taking the initiative to host her very own #Haulternative Fashion Swap right here in Perth.

Tell us about your own journey towards making conscientious fashion choices?

I definitely don’t think I’m the most fashionable kid on the block, but probably like most twenty-something femme types, I care about what I’m wearing! The Rana Plaza factory collapse of 2013, which killed over a thousand people – the majority of whom were women, truly opened my eyes in that respect. It made me conscious of the people who make my clothing, the conditions they work in, and the cost that comes with my clothes.

So, you’re hosting Perth’s first #Haulternative Fashion Swap – which has already had an amazing response from the community. Tell us more about this extraordinary event?

It’s had such an incredible response! I’m stoked that so many people – five hundred people – are interested! The event is inspired by Fashion Revolution week. A week of action urging people to not only look but do something about the impact of the fashion industry. I’m encouraging people to consider going through their wardrobes and passing on items they don’t use. I’ve been collecting donations from all over Perth and on Saturday anyone can pick up some recycled threads and support sustainable fashion!

All the money raised on the day will be donated to the Esther Foundation – they’re an awesome local organisation which helps young women get back on their feet after issues like family violence, mental health, or substance abuse, so a really worthy cause. It’s a whole lot of things I find important altogether – and clearly, quite a few other people do too.

Was there a particular moment that motivated you to take action and organise this event?

I was reading an article on ABC about the environmental impact of fabric and feeling increasingly stressed and hopeless when I came across one fact: “if each person in the UK bought one reclaimed woollen garment, it would save nearly 1,700 million litres of water and 480 tonnes of dyeing chemicals.” I thought – now that’s something concrete I can do. I can save one woolly jumper. I sent the article on to a friend, who suggested looking on the Fashion Revolution website. There were no events in WA, so I got the ball rolling!

Do you think your fashion swap will help people realise that we can all be a part of the solution to fast fashion?

I hope so! I hope that it will start a conversation and give people a taste for doing things differently. Breaking out of the trap of fast fashion, and fast consumption in general, is insanely difficult – I love Kmart as much as the next person. We want, and we can so cheaply obtain new, beautiful and stylish things. And next month we can have more things! Changing that mindset around consumption is extremely challenging. I hope this will help us become aware that even though these things we buy and chuck might be cheap in financial terms, they have a much higher humanitarian and ecological cost than we can see on the price tag.

Often the solutions we’re marketed for these really complex problems feel out of reach. A perfect example being, I was recently emailed about a pair of sustainable denim jeans that were $275. I hope this event shows people that changing our wardrobe stylishly and conscientiously is something we can do, simply by using what we collectively already have, and building our community while we’re at it.

So apart from attending the clothing swap (obviously). How can students contribute to the sustainable fashion movement in their everyday lives?

I think there are a few things that we can try to stretch our dollar further, as well as reduce our impact:

  1. Research what you wear so you can make informed choices. Ask companies (use social media where there are witnesses!) who made your clothes – where does the fabric come from? Are the workers paid a living wage? Companies are starting to realise people really care about this stuff and they’re making it easier to make informed decisions.
  2. Repair where you can. Go see Vlad the cobbler in the Guild Village! Vlad has saved so, so many pairs of shoes for me over the years for a couple of bucks a pop. Faded clothes can be saved by chucking in a packet of dye from the supermarket or craft store. There are also some really cool mending techniques that make a rip into a feature a simple YouTube tutorial about replacing a button or a zip can make something you would have binned functional again.
  3. Sew some of your own stuff. Even better if you can adapt or repurpose something second hand! But if you’re learning, you’ll definitely find it easier to buy a length of fabric. Australia has some great online eco fabric stores. Added bonus – patterns come with a range of sizes built in, so you get to make something that fits your body, not the other way around. I guarantee you that sewing your own stuff is not daggy at all and you will blow your friends’ minds.
  4. If something really has to go – think about where. Giving to charity is 100% better than putting it in the bin, but some charities are so overwhelmed with worn fast fashion waste that it still goes to landfill at the end of the day. Could you give it to an animal shelter? Could you snip the buttons off and save them for a repair job? Could you…. Organise a clothing swap?

Liberty’s #Haulternative Fashion Swap will be running this Saturday 28th April between 10 am and 4 pm at the Vic Park Centre for the Arts.  Entry will be by gold coin donation and the price of pieces will range from $1- $5. All proceeds will be donated to the Esther Foundation.

Susie Charkey
Fashion Sub-Editor