Ways to value your clothes by Dr. Jenny Underwood

RMIT-FAST-F-099It’s the final week of the RMIT Gallery/Goethe-Institut exhibition Fast Fashion: The dark side of fashion. The exhibition closes 5 pm Saturday 9 September. It’s a confronting and thought provoking exhibition – but there are things that we as consumers can do to be part of the mass consumption solution, rather than the problem.

Here are some ways that you can transform your consumption habits into a more sustainable path courtesy of Dr. Jenny Underwood, curator of the Slow Fashion Studio, the optimistic response to new approaches to fashion by higher degree by research students at RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles.


Your wardrobe should be a celebration of who you are and how you enjoy presenting yourself to the world.

Take a moment to consider your favourite item of clothing. What is it that makes this garment special to you? How do you feel when you wear this garment?

When buying a new item of clothing ask yourself:

  • How well does it fit me?
  • How does it make me feel?
  • Does it suit my style and how I enjoy dressing?
  • How often will I wear this garment?
Manu Washaus, Study of the Possible 11, 2013.


Feel good about the choices you make. Be curious about the brands you buy and ask questions:
Who made your clothes?
What are they made of?
Are there better choices?

Shop Ethical is an Australian App designed for ethical shopping. It provides shoppers with information on the environment and social impact of over 5000 products.

Well Made Clothes is an online store offering a range of stylish and sustainable brands, many of which are made locally in Melbourne and other Australian locales.

The Social Studio is a Melbourne based not-for-profit organisation and social enterprise, whose purpose is to employ and train people from refugee and new migrant communities. They produce by working within the traditional and cultural backgrounds of their inclusive community.

Australia: Fashion Revolution supports initiatives to raise awareness about the fashion supply chain.

Tania Splawa-Neyman’s installation The Mending Mart 2017.

Shopping Local

Melbourne has a vibrant locally made fashion culture. Shopping locally supports the local economy and minimises transport pollution.

Nobody Denim produces high quality, long lasting jeans made right here in Melbourne.

Kuwaii garments are made to order or produced in very small runs.

SISTER is designed and manufactured in Brunswick creating limited edition garments.

Hopeless Lingerie is hand made in Melbourne creating dark, modern and romantic lingerie.

Ken the Label is a local Melbourne brand offering lingerie and loungewear made from ethically sourced fibres.

LIMB garments are a modern take on classic silhouettes, and designed and made in Melbourne.
For more: CTF Curated Melbourne, an initiative by the Council of Textiles & Fashion.

Lucie Ketelsen, ao3, 2017.


Recycle/Reuse: Consider how to extend clothing usefulness, when you no longer want or need a garment.

Donate good condition clothing to support local charity collections.

Repurposing clothing: If your garments are no longer fit for purpose then put them to another use such as rags for cleaning, ties for the garden.

The Clothing Exchange is a way to swap and trade your good condition garments for others and was founded by Kate Luckins in Melbourne in 2004.

Patagonia’s ‘Worn Wear’ initiative aims to increase the life span of garments and to make us rethink our relationship with clothing. On the Worn and Wear site, shoppers may purchase second hand Patagonia pieces, find information on care instructions and arrange repairs.

Emma Lynas, Home Made (analogue), 2017.

Price Per Wear

A low price point isn’t always a clear indication of a garment’s value. Consider instead price per wear: the initial purchase price divided by the number of times the garment is worn.

Compare two coats:

Coat ‘A’ costs $60 and is worn twice a week over one winter: 460 divided by 26 wears = $2.50 per wear.

Coat ‘B’ costs $600 and is worn five times a week over six winters: $600 divided by 360 wears = $1.67 per wear.

Georgi McCorkill, Fold, Floral dress 1″ knife, 2017

Images: Fast Fashion: the dark side of fashion, RMIT Gallery, 2017. Installation photos, including the Slow Fashion Studio works, taken by Mark Ashkanasy. Poster text courtesy of Dr. Jenny Underwood, curator Slow Fashion Studio.

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