Words by Taylor Mitchell
Alex Trimmer is a Melbourne based designer and the morality behind SOSUME, a label that has been featured in Australian Vogue and stocked in some of Australia’s most progressive fashion boutiques. His oeuvre is inspired by the dark moodiness of Ann Demeulemeester and the quality of Devoa, a marriage of trends that have created a label both minimalist and unique. On top of this, SOSUME adheres to arguably the best and most timeless trend of all – ethical fashion.
A culmination of organic and natural threads and all-Australian production allows the label to define itself as ‘a brand with a major social conscience’. Trimmer developed the idea four years ago, identifying a market for ‘luxurious, soft, eco-friendly garments that wasn't reliant on typical organic cotton or hemp’. There is nothing stereotypically environmental about his designs: his use of a neutral colour palate, tailoring and waist accentuated silhouettes are a far cry from the ‘boho chic’ typecast often attached to eco-fashion.
SOSUME is not isolated in its effort to be ethical – high fashion appears to be at the commencement of a paradigm shift. ‘I think there is at least more awareness out there at the consumer level which is forcing business to rethink their strategy’ muses Trimmer.
The convergence of ethics and creativity in Australia is becoming present in local designers who source organic cloth or remodel vintage and used fabrics. However, with March’s fair work act amendment putting pressure on small fashion businesses outsourcing workers , emerging ethical labels face financial difficulties. Trimmer offered PITCH some amazing advice to pass on to aspiring designers:
‘I would start by designing small, neat, concise, workable collections made from recycled or organic fabrics sourced from local fabric stores until you get larger production orders. I would also search through agents as a lot of mills are reducing their minimums due to the tough economic times.’
As for high end designers, Trimmer maintains that there is no excuse. ‘Their products already command a high price by replacing some of their inputs with sustainable measures; they could easily absorb the higher cost.’ The notion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) occurs when businesses voluntarily become environmentally or socially mindful. Retail fashion giant Country Road now publishes CSR reports, while H&M’s policy ensured their products are ‘manufactured in a way that is environmentally and socially sustainable.’ Obviously, this issue is all shades of grey. Mass production where workers are unfairly paid may use sourced eco-friendly fabrics, however this process cannot be deemed ‘ethical.’ Although change is obviously occurring, the progression is slow. Still, Trimmer is adamant that consumers will generate the alteration of Australian high fashion.
‘When people demand it, the fashion houses will deliver…. I think there will be more and more eco designers building their businesses and becoming more noticed in the media. I also think there will soon be a dedicated runway event alongside the other majors such as LMFF, MSFW and RAFW.’