Fashion: Moral Fairground’s Fair@Square, Melbourne
Last month, Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia played host to Fair@Square, the nation’s biggest fair trade and ethical festival. This free public event, put on by Moral Fairground, celebrated ethical and sustainable consumption and provided fair trade purchase options in time for the holiday season. It was kicked off by the announcement of the winner of the Ethical Enterprise Award, Western Desert Dialysis. Following this, two days were filled with activities including live cooking demonstrations, fashion shows, music, children’s activities and creative displays.
Lauren & Angie design and create eco-friendly clothing from certified organic cotton and other eco-friendly products, and aim to educate the wider community about sustainable fashion. JETS Swimwear is an Ethical Clothing Australia accredited premium luxury swimwear brand. Bhalo works with fair trade producers to create limited edition designs from ethically handwoven and naturally dyed cottons and silks. Eternal Creation’s fair trade certified range of fashion is ethically produced in the Himalayas by Tibetan refugees. Pure Pod is ethically Australian made with eco-friendly textiles and trims. And Bachhara creates unique and exotic feminine dresses. It was founded to empower mothers of disadvantaged slum children in Bangladesh.
The host for these fashion shows, Lara Shannon of Eco Chick, remarked, “Attending the inaugural Ethical Enterprise Awards on Friday night and hosting the Fair Fashion parades at Fair@Square this weekend reminded me of all the good things that are happening to promote sustainability, ethical and fair trade practices in Australia and all around the world.”
Organizer Susanna Bevilacqua told Parvati Magazine, “Having traveled and having seen first hand the harsh reality of consumerism and the effect it has on producer countries, I realised that without even knowing it I was partly responsible for some of the big global social issues, like unethical employments conditions, child labour, poverty. I realised that just like me there were many people out there that did not know about these issues and also people that felt powerless and did not know how to go about making change. I wanted to create someting that inspired, educated and empowerd people, so the idea of the festival was born. A festival is a great way of interacting with many people, and providing information in a fun and creative way to showcase how easy and how beneficial this change is.”
She added, “Free public events like Fair@Square allows a wide range of people to learn about ethical fashion. It can take a bit of time to change the way things are done, in particular in the fashion industry. Of course, consumers play an extremely important role. The more consumers buy ethical fashion, the more large retailers will see the benefit in stocking these items.”
We asked Susanna how sustainable fashion can become more mainstream. She responded, “I think that there has to be a much more bigger focus at the tertiary education level. Fashion design courses should not only teach sustainability and ethics as an add-on. Tt should be embedded in the teachings. Of course governments have also a role to play. Incentivising ethical production in some form or another will help businesses in the fashion industry to make the change. There has to be a shift in values and what we feel is important. A lot of the time, this is influenced by the many messages we receive every day via all the marketing and advertising.”