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  • Writer's pictureDavid Connolly

These are the 10 leaders shaking up the Fashion Industry

1. Lucy King: Kmart Sustainable Materials Manager

Kmart is on a mission to make its apparel offering more eco-friendly. Helping to lead the charge is Lucy King, who is responsible for leading the sustainable materials program – supporting the design, buying, sourcing and marketing teams in the delivery of Kmart’s sustainable material commitments including cotton, poly-ester, cellulose, wool and timber. Since beginning this mission, Kmart has introduced pieces including recycled active-wear, a puffer jacket filled with 100% recycled polyester made from reclaimed materials, sneakers made from recycled materials and organic cotton innerwear. “Fabrications made with recycled materials help us to reduce our reliance on our planet's natural resources,” King said in a Kmart Masterclass. “They also help us divert textile waste, as well as plastic, from going to landfill,” she said.

2. Jaana Quaintance-James: Global Fashion Group Chief Sustainability Officer

It’s no coincidence that Jaana Quaintance-James has found herself on this list three times running. Now heading up Global Fashion Group’s sustainability department, Quaintance-James has steered the business to achieving carbon neutrality across its operations and outbound deliveries in the markets it operates. This includes the use of 100% green energy in all nine of its fulfilment centres in Australia and New Zealand, Latin America,

the Commonwealth of Independent States and Southeast Asia. While she was happy to announce the news to the market – on World Environment Day no less – Quaintance-James said the business still has a way to go. “We recognise there is much work ahead of us to reduce our footprint and therefore formalising our carbon mitigation strategy is an impor-tant step to support our transition. While the purchase of off-sets and renewable energy certifi ates will not distract us from true reduction efforts, they mark an important milestone in GFG’s journey,” she said.

3. Eloise Bishop: Country Road Group & David Jones Head of Sustainability

Supporting Australian cotton farmers has been on the agenda for Country Road over the past few years. In 2020, the business committed $600,000 to Landcare Australia, with the funds invested over three years towards biodiversity restoration projects across Australian farmlands.

The first project will be implemented for third generation cotton farmers, the Kahl family in the Namoi Valley, NSW – a region significantly affected by biodiversity loss and in need of restoration. “As one of Australia’s most iconic brands, we can harness our role in the industry to assist local cotton farmers in protecting soil health, providing natural habitats for threatened species and improving water quality across river systems,” Bishop said of the project. Going further to support the local cot-ton industry, Country Road brought back local manufacturing of its Heritage Sweat from the 90s this year. The limited edition garment was brought to life through a close collaboration between the brand, Australian cotton farmers and Victorian manufacturers. “It’s been really exciting to see brands like Country Road come back to Australian Made and say, ‘we want to support Australian industry’,” local manufacturer Julian Collins said.

4. Manu Rastogi: Kathmandu Head of Product Innovation and Product Sustainability

While there are many things Kathmandu can be recognised for reaching carbon neutrality four years early or partnering with The Renewal Project to collaborate on a circular map-ping project – it is making greener garments which has landed it on the list this year. Manu Rastogi heads up the division responsible for developing and innovating the business’ product. In 2020, the business reported that it had reached its goal of 100% sustain-able cotton in its range. Kathmandu also recycled 8.2 million plastic bottles in 2020 through the use of Repreve recycled poly-ester. While it is proud of these achievements, Rastogi said that the business is already looking at the next milestone. “Reaching 100% sustainable cotton only means we are 100% ‘less bad’. Now we need to shift from reducing our impact to doing good. The next challenge is to think about what is beyond sustainability and look at regenerative agriculture,” he said.

5. Audrey Khaing-Jones and Dean Jones: GlamCorner Co-Founders

They’re the husband-and-wife duo dominating fashion rental in Australia. The GlamCorner platform has gone from strength-to-strength this year, expanding its services to launch dedicated rental platforms for brands like Camilla, Spell and David Jones. Customers who order from these dedicated sites experience GlamCorner's click to rent journey, which sees GlamCorner fulfil, ship, receive back and clean the garments. "At GlamCorner we want to revolutionise the way we consume fashion through rental,” Khaing-Jones said. “Our partnerships with retail-ers allow consumers to enjoy beautifully designed and high-quality garments all while being able to support the circular economy and help reduce fashion waste,” she said. Additionally, the business has also partnered with Witchery to bolster its workwear and essentials offering which has seen a 200% increase as COVID restrictions ease. They land a spot on this year’s G-10 list because they’re making circular fashion not only accessible to consumers, but to retailers too

6. John Condilis: Nobody Denim Chairman and Co-Founder

“No matter what, the Nobody Denim Signature Range will always be made in Australia,” is a pledge that John Condilis made to his customers and the wider fashion industry upon relaunch of the Signature Range this year. The investment will see Nobody Denim ensure the future of local manufacturing, as well as the maintenance of jobs and skills in Australia. The relaunch also signalled a move to a more inclusive offering too. “The relaunch of the Signature Range has seen us make our core product more inclusive with a wider range of sizes which we know is important, especially in denim,” Condilis said. Alongside the pledge to support local jobs, Nobody Denim has also demonstrated its commitment to fully traceable collections, releasing its second traceable collection into its David Jones concession in March this year. Not only does it give the business oversight of its sup-ply chain, but also allows customers access to this data. “The opportunity to further educate shoppers on the importance of transparency in fashion was something we jumped on straight away,” Condilis said.

7. Erika Martin: Elk Sustainability Manager

In its aim to be as transparent as possible, Elk has for three years released an annual transparency report. Across key sustain-ability pillars including energy, packaging, materials and social initiatives, Elk high-lights three key progress achievements across each category. Key highlights from this year’s report include the generation of 71MWh of clean, renewable solar power on-site, 81% of all packaging and printed items being made from recycled materials and 39% of the brand’s buy being made up of preferred materials, up from 25% in 2019. “The greatest progress was made within our own operations,” Martin said.

8. Michael Elias: Upparel Founder and CEO

Upparel has stopped nearly two million garments from ending up in landfill through its textile recycling programs. The business began its mission with a sock recycling pro-gram in 2019, which rewarded consumers for sending their old socks to be upcycled, laundered and donated or transformed into other garments such as beanies and t-shirts. But it wasn’t stopping there, opening a fully recyclable bricks-and-mortar sustainability hub at Westfield Southland in December 2020. The entire space was made from recyclable materials and encouraged shoppers to take home a biodegradable satchel to fill with socks for recycling. But still, the business was not going to call it a day there. This year, Upparel expanded beyond upcycled socks and underwear, launching an upcycled children's sofa. The sofa, dubbed Flip Up, is made in Melbourne from recycled textiles and plastic bottles. And, in true Upparel style, once families are done with their Flip Up, they can notify Upparel and it will be picked up from their home to be reprocessed into the next product, keeping the sofa out of landfill. "Everything we do today is for the benefit of the next generation, so it made sense that our very first product was focused on the next generation,” Elias said of the Flip Up.

9. Mary Lou Ryan: Bassike Co-Founder and Director of Supply Chain and Sustainability

Carbon neutral runway shows at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) is what’s landed Mary Lou Ryan in the G10 list this year. For both of its resort 22 and winter 21 see-now-buy-now runway shows, the label assessed each element, working to offset the greenhouse gas emissions created. Forming part of the business’ larger strategy to go carbon neutral, Ryan said that the brand had to live its values on the runway. “We are continually looking at all areas of our business to ensure we make responsible choices and do better within all facets,” she said. “When activating events at such a scale, it sits within our ethos to look to reduce and offset the carbon footprint,” she said. Additionally, the business is working with Forests Alive Tasmania and Brazil Amazon Rainforest Project across forest protection, implementation and conservation activities, scientific research and social inclusion within communities.

10. Tui Taylor: Incoming R.M.Williams GM of Supply Chain and Corporate Social Responsibility

There’s big things in-store for Tui Taylor at R.M. Williams, following her six years at Icebreaker. At the outwear label, Taylor spearheaded Icebreaker’s first-ever transparency report, disclosing the brand’s sup-ply chain, policies, structure and practices. And R.M. Williams says a similar approach is on the cards. “Ensuring our products are crafted in an ethical and sustainable manner is integral to our values and business strategy,” the brand said. “Our aim is to continue building a purpose-led supply chain that positively impacts communities in which we produce and source from,” R.M. Williams said. Taylor is one to watch!

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