Sample Room + Fashion Revolution: Introducing Mai

Sample Room + Fashion Revolution: Introducing Mai

Posted by on Apr 30, 2019 in Fashion, Fashion Design, Follow the Label, Industry Know How, Lifestyle, Manufacturer | 0 comments

In honour of Fashion Revolution Week we would like to introduce Mai, one of our valued sample machinists. Originally from Vietnam, Mai has lived in Australia since 1995 after closing a tailoring shop she ran for 15 years.Mai was recommended from a family member to take the big leap and move to Australia with the promise of good working conditions and pay.Once in Australia, Mai commenced working at a large fashion factory, and stayed loyal to this position for 16 years. This was a huge contrast to her small business in Vietnam, where clothes were measured from a body and then cut. In this 100+ employee factory, Mai learnt about technical elements of producing samples and manufacturing to Australian standards. Mai sees herself as very lucky, as once made redundant from her long time employment, she walked straight into a position at Sample Room. Julia recognised her experience and expertise quickly and hired Mai straight away. Now with Sample Room for over 2 years, Mai says the main difference between Sample Room and per previous position is that at Sample Room everything is done under one roof, where previously elements of development where shipped off-shore. This increased during her time there, when she started her first job in Australia the factory had 100+ employees, when she was made redundant this was halved.Here at Sample Room, we are huge supporters of Fashion Revolution Week and are glad we could share a snippet of Mai’s story. Our founder, Julia Van der Sommen cut her teeth in the fashion industry on the factory floor herself. So has a deep understanding of the importance of respecting the knowledge of her staff, regardless of the job they are...

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Sample Room + Fashion Revolution: Introducing Sharon

Sample Room + Fashion Revolution: Introducing Sharon

Posted by on Apr 30, 2019 in Fashion, Fashion Design, Follow the Label, Industry Know How, Lifestyle, Manufacturer | 0 comments

Here at Sample Room we are proudly ethically accredited and value the importance of a safe and fair workplace. We have staff from all over the world including people local to Melbourne, creating a diverse and experienced team. Julia’s (founder of Sample Room) ethical practices are founded by the passion to respect the knowledge and skills people have. Coming from years of experience on the factory floor herself, she really understands the depth of knowledge and expertise the Sample Room team possess.We are very flattered to have been referred to as the “utopia of pattern development” by a number of people and work hard to keep this alive in our workplace.In honour of Fashion Revolution Week we have interviewed a valued member of our team, Sharon our Fabric Cutter.Introducing Sharon WickramarathneSharon has worked at Sample Room for almost one year, starting with us six months after arriving in Australia from Sri Lanka. Following the completion of a textile diploma in Pattern Making, he commenced his textile career in 1998 as a trainee Pattern Maker in a small factory where the main focus was school wear. This suburban factory had about 20 employees, and three short months after starting the traineeship his trainer went on maternity leave, which left Sharon to take the reins. The factory had strong safety processes, if a needle broke the staff would be required to return each piece of the needle or they would not be given a new needle to work with.From here Sharon moved to larger factories, where the buyers enforced approved conditions, keeping the factories to a satisfactory standard.Sharon noted that in Sri Lanka the textile industry is huge and there are also a large number of people to fill the jobs which can push the wages down, making it challenging to make enough money to support a family.The journey to Australia came with its challenges, mainly around language and also an expectation from employees to have local experience. So he was reliant on someone willing to give him a chance to build that sought after local experience. Six months into his job hunt, Sharon secured a job at Sample Room. With different systems and processes to what Sharon was accustomed to, his job role changed and developed shaping around the areas he excelled at.When asked what Sharon values the most about Sample Room his answer was “everything, it’s...

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Sourcing Ethical Materials: Understanding the origin of your fabric

Sourcing Ethical Materials: Understanding the origin of your fabric

Posted by on Mar 8, 2019 in Emerging Designers, Fashion, Fashion Design, Industry Know How, Lifestyle | 0 comments

 Choosing eco-friendly fabrics can be an imperative factor in determining whether your label can withstand the constant evolution towards a greener industry. But even when making conscious decisions about your material choices, it’s hard to know what the most sustainable choice can be. Here’s our short list of mighty materials leading the way in eco-fashion! CottonWhat is probably the most durable, versatile and widely used textiles, cotton is actually the most damaging to our ecosystems and natural resources! In its production, a substantial amount of dyes and pesticides can be added, plus it can be a hard task in determining the conditions that the cotton has been harvested in. However, organic cotton is a great alternative that can ensure transparency in the harvesting of the material. Read more here on the production of organic cotton.  LyocellHave you heard of lyocell? This nifty fabric might just be the way of the future! Lyocell is an environmentally friendly material made from wood pulp. The fibre can be more expensive than other materials, however is proven to have fantastic results being both 100% biodegradable and uncompromising with quality and comfort. Read more here on the game changing benefits of lyocell here.  (via Simplifi Fabric) HempOne of nature’s wonders, hemp is a material bursting at the seams (pun intended!) with environmental benefits. This crop has the potential to clean up soil pollution and maybe most impressively, only requires half the amount of water to produce into a textile than cotton. Major brand Patagonia says “[it] has a wonderful drape, comparable to linen.”Read more here on the benefits of hemp in fashion and society at large.  BambooBamboo is a fast growing, naturally produced material that has become a popular textile choice in sustainable fashion. The textile is naturally super soft, UV repellent, odorless and antibacterial. The downside to the widespread use of bamboo can arise in the use of chemicals and pesticides when processing the material- i.e – turning Bamboo into a useable material. Viscose rayon is a common form of a bamboo based material, however can often be treated with unnatural solutions at the time of processing. Bamboo Lyocell is even the next best step for the conscious consumer. Read more here on how it is produced. Common forms of textile production (via Green Hub Online/ Chic Vegan) LinenSimilar to cotton or bamboo, Linen is a natural fibre produced via extraction from the stalk of a flax plant. The flax plant is SO versatile! Flax can produce a wide range of products from textiles to linoleum flooring, and even providing the natural health benefits of flaxseed oil. As a textile, linen is extremely durable, hypoallergenic and breathable. Consumers are not compromised for quality, and sources say linen clothing only gets better with each wear!Read more here on the benefits of the flax plant and linen. (via Life Giving Linen) For more information, education and direction, get in contact with...

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Sustainability in Fashion

Sustainability in Fashion

Posted by on Aug 17, 2017 in Fashion, Industry Know How, Industry Trends, Lifestyle, Sample Room Solutions | 0 comments

The fashion industry has not always been known for its kindness to the environment. Furs, anyone? Dyes that are high in toxicity? Sweat shops? But in today’s world, you’ll hear the term sustainability in all areas, and the fashion industry is no exception. Customers are concerned, and rightly so, about the impact fashion has on the world around us. Customers are savvy, they’re aware of the landfill and contributions to this from old clothing, fabrics and materials.But what does sustainability look like in fashion? What does it mean exactly? Well, there is no one specific explanation, so let’s take a look at some of the terms it can refer to.Fabrics & Materials It can be as simple as the fabrics used in a garment. Organic cotton, naturally processed wools, and low-impact dyes, all contribute to the sustainability tag for your design. Natural fibres, organic production, recycled fibres and job lot end of run fabrics all relate to sustainability as they all have less of an impact on the environment.Slow-fashion This term is used to describe the care and time taken to ensure the longevity of the garment. This can be achieved by creating a timeless classic with natural and durable fabrics; it can be done by ensuring the materials used can be recycled. Your customer is more likely to hold onto the garment for more than one season if they feel an emotional connection to it. The way you can help to create this connection is to be transparent with your customer, by noting your production and manufacturing processes. If your customer can see the process behind the garment, then they will feel a greater link with you as its designer.Reuse This is similar to recycled and upcycled fabrics, as they, too, are being reused. But there are other ways that you can offer to reuse your garments, to increase your sustainability focus. You can, for example, create a buy-back option: when your customer has finished with the garment, you buy it back to create something new. Alternatively, you can offer a percentage off their next purchase if they donate the original garment once they’ve outgrown it. Or why not set up a forum where people can buy, sell and swap with other fans of your garments.Marketing The way you market yourself and your brand goes a long way in speaking of your efforts in the sustainable fashion. Make sure your labels are clear and your customer understands them as this is one of the ways the sustainable fashion message is passed along. As noted above, be transparent with your customer, give them a chance to get to know you, the designer, as well as your brand. At Sample Room, we believe that marketing yourself begins long before your begin your designs (read our blog post on Marketing here *insert hyperlink*) and creates the connection that you need with...

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Customisation versus Bespoke

Customisation versus Bespoke

Posted by on Aug 9, 2017 in Fashion Design, Follow the Label, Industry Know How, Industry Trends, Lifestyle, Sample Room Solutions | 2 comments

The fashion industry is always moving. It’s the ethos behind it, really. Fashion moves us, shakes us, tempts us and encourages us to try something new.The latest disrupter to our world in fashion is known as customisation.It’s happening all over the fashion world: with handbags, shoes and clothing! It is also happening with consumer goods as well—do you remember Coca-Cola selling bottles with your name on it, as did Nutella? That’s all part of customisation.There are a number of factors behind the increase in customisation. Creating a point of difference in a tough retail market can give your brand exposure and create a successful profitable business. One highly positive way to view customisation is the pinnacle of customer service. It makes your customer feel special. You are able to give them something that no one else can.It’s exciting and interesting. But also very tricky for a start-up. Customisation can be quite cost-prohibitive for a start-up. Perhaps if you are lucky to have partners or investors, you can dabble in this latest trend, but generally speaking, it makes for headaches for you, the designer, and your manufacturer. It is important to understand the difference between Customisation, Made to order and Bespoke (or made to measure).Customisation is the first level of making something individual. It is where the customer gets to personalise their product. If you’re designing a T-shirt, your customer, through customisation, can request to have a short sleeve T-shirt, instead of the long-sleeve tee you’ve designed. Or, request for their own initials to be placed on the front pocket or a split where a seam would normally go. Of course, you want to give your customer enough choice in details to make it individual while keeping within the parameters of what is capable. What do I mean by this? To understand the parameters it is important to understand the basic economics of mass production (by mass I mean more than one garment).The price of these products is determined by the cost of making the product (fabrics, trims and make costs) plus margin, plus mark up to wholesale and then the retail mark up.In order to keep within a reasonable price-point, you must keep the initial cost of fabric and production as low as possible. The way to do this is through bulk production. We start this process by creating a production marker (laying the pattern pieces on the fabric in the most cost effective way. This allows for greater than 75% usage of the fabric which is very high) you then lay fabric on top of each other in multiple lays, sometimes 100 lays, to reduce the time to cut each garment (this is called bulk cutting). Garments are then sewn in a production line of a few machinists all working on their individual machines at the same time to utilise machinery and time. Economies of scale reduce the...

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What is a Toile?

What is a Toile?

Posted by on Aug 3, 2017 in Emerging Designers, Fashion, Fashion Design, Follow the Label, Industry Know How, Industry Trends, Lifestyle, Sample Room Solutions | 0 comments

Photo: Actual Toile Fitting in Sample RoomThere are many tricks of the trade within any industry. Certainly, within the fashion industry, one such trick is a toile. But what is it, exactly?A toile is a word, derived from the French language, which describes a mock-up of your design. It is an early version of a garment, made of a cheaper, but similar fabric, to test and perfect the design. You can see how important this is to the industry, and also you, as the designer. It is in this toile that a designer can see if the garment is going to sing or sink. It is a necessary step and will assist in avoiding wasting money on sampling that will otherwise fail. I like to call it a quick and dirty version of your design.When it comes to a toile, it is essential to use a fabric that is similar to the one you will use for your garments. If your design is made from a heavy and stiff fabric, then find something cheap and similar to this. If you’re going for a drapey, slinky and lightweight feel, then yes, do the same: find something close to this, but much cheaper and use for your toile.In addition to being a similar weight and feel to your actual fabric, the fabric for a toile should be light in colour, so that you can use tailor’s chalk to mark out where changes need to be made. Here is where you get to test the design lines, and the fit of the garment. You can make markings on the toile and see if a lower V neckline will suit better than the round neck that you initially sketched. The toile will guide you to add darts, or lengthen the hemline, or if cap sleeves will fit better than a three-quarter sleeve.The toile is your important chance to play with your design.Once you’ve made the changes to the toile, then translate them back to your pattern. If you’ve had to cinch in areas on the toile where there was too much fabric, or if you’ve had to loosen where the toile showed pulling and stretching, translate these into your pattern. You might even choose to make a second toile if you’ve made a lot of changes.We prefer to start with a toile. There is nothing worse than making a garment up with topstitching, pockets, overlocking and lining only to find out the shape is not right. It really is a waste of money. A toile costs approx half the cost of a sample if not less. Therefore this is valuable money wasted. I much prefer that we get the shape, length and placement of key measurements right first before creating the final garment.Another option is the make the toile in the final sample fabric but only make it to a toile standard. We call this a...

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