Slow and Steady Fashion Wins the Race

Mercy light: Leading

How do you feel about the fact that an item of clothing is worn just seven times before it is disposed of? A 2015 survey of 2,000 women by UK-based charity, Barnado’s, determined this. It’s a statistic that shocks students and staff within our school community.

Considering rapidly changing social media and influencer trends, it’s perhaps not so surprising that consumers’ fashion purchasing and disposal habits are fast and fickle. However, we at SAC, steeped in the values of Courage, Justice, Service, Respect, Compassion and Hospitality, are keen to ask questions about the problem and seek responses to benefit the greater good. 

One huge step forward was the opening of the SAC Op Shop. Teachers, Rosa Frezza and Louise Tunney, have voluntarily co-led the project with students for four years.

Rosa says, “The SAC Op Shop was a vision of teacher, Wendy Lacoon, and passionate student leaders in 2019, who created a space where clothes could be recycled and occasionally repurposed. This shows students how slow fashion can help to spark social and environmental change.”

The Op Shop welcomes donations from anyone in our community, with a yellow wheelie bin located front and centre in the office, hungry for donations of pre-loved clothing and accessories that are still in good condition. A large team of staff and students volunteer their time to sort through the clothing and rehome it in The Op Shop, located inside our expressive arts center and is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1pm-1:40pm.

Fast fashion education is also embedded in classroom learning. In September, at the invitation of Year 11 Society and Culture teacher, Sarah Cowling, students heard from Melanie Flintoft and Robyn White from Australian fashion label, Sunset Lover, about the brand’s commitment to RISE; having a Responsible Impact for Society and the Environment, and this aligns closely with values instilled in SAC students.

The Year 11s were impressed with Melanie and Robyn’s interactive presentation and asked many considered questions about how they could be a part of the solution, rather than the problem.

The same week, Year 11 students, Elli, Morgan, Olivia and Jade, hosted a fast fashion quiz to further spread the word the ethical issues with Fast Fashion and the flow-on impacts on those employed in the textiles and fashion industry.

Elli fervently believes that, “Instead of purchasing from companies that offer low-price, low-quality options, people should take more care and look for different ways to shop.”

Elli, Morgan, Olivia and Jade voice a message of hope, recognising that, “our actions can affect both the environment and people working in the factories that produce the clothing that we purchase. Many workers get treated very poorly, and through research we came to a much clearer understanding of how important it is to make a change.”

“Through raising awareness, more young people can change their habits and be more careful about how they participate in the fashion industry.”

The SAC community is committed to advocacy against the negative impacts of fast fashion, and all proceeds from sales at the SAC Op Shop are donated to local charities: it’s a winning initiative for all. 

Ms Maddie Kelly
Marketing Team & Social Justice Coordinator