How 2 Sisters Are Using Hemp To Reshape Sustainable Fashion

With Kel & Em from Folktribe Clothing

We recently sat down with two sisters on an unwavering mission to clean up the fashion industry in Australia.

And they're doing it with hemp!

Based in the Grampians, Kel & Em are co-founders of Folktribe Clothing - a breathtaking label using 100& natural fibres to create stunning tops, dresses, pants and more.

Every step they take focuses on a relentless desire to do things in an environmental and humanitarian way... and you can read all about it below!

And if podcasts are more your thing, listen to the audio version of 'Striding Forward' on your preferred podcasting platform below:
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1. Tell us a bit about yourselves and why Folktribe Clothing?

Kel & Em: So we are based here in Grampians, Victoria, and we started Folktribe Clothing as a response to the devastation caused by the fashion industry.

And we aim to create sustainable fashion alternatives for everyone that's interested in fashion or that just wants to kind of create a low impact in their life.

2. And what's it like working together?

Kel & Em: Yeah, it's great. We're about 18 months apart in age. We get along pretty well.

But I mean, it can be challenging at times. You just need to communicate really well. And  we've we've kind of navigated how to work together in business.

It's fun and we've both grown within the business together. We are spearheading a new territory with sustainable fashion and trying to make sure that it's pioneered in the right way.

So we're exploring challenging territory together. So it's it's fun, but it's it's at times really hard!

Wannon Pinafore
Wannon Pinafore
Wannon Pinafore
Wannon Pinafore
Wannon Pinafore
Wannon Pinafore
Wannon Pinafore
Wannon Pinafore
Wannon Pinafore
Wannon Pinafore
Wannon Pinafore
Wannon Pinafore

3. What is Folktribe's philosophy towards sustainable fashion? 

Kel & Em: Our main focus is that our approach is really systemic and that we're addressing all points.

Our attention to detail is over the top. Some would argue, I mean, even down to our buttons, you know, we researched what's the biggest byproduct of an industry that's already happening. So we came up with coconut buttons. We searched for God, I mean, almost two years about what's the most sustainable fibre.

The amount of research and time that goes into our business decisions before we come to a result is massive. I think we spend more time researching than actually doing.

So a lot of people would argue that that's not worth your time, but sustainability is the priority for us, and we need to be sure that we're doing all the right things on all fronts. That goes for every aspect of our business; whether we're working in our office, getting orders out, or creating a new piece.

Every action that we take, we ask ourselves: what would the impact be if everybody made this choice? And we can we can happily run our business if we ask ourselves that question and then the results positive.

3. What is your perspective on consumerism now & in the future?

Kel & Em: So, currently, we see consumerism in that it's really based on trends - so that's a huge factor for consumerism at the moment.

And and marketing messages that are being sent out to customers are constantly just that; that they're not they're not enough and they don't have enough in their life...

There's this constant kind of 'you need more to be more' and so that's that's kind of what we're finding at the moment.

And we think that the message really needs to shift and it needs to run with this kind of self-love movement as well. So it's empowering people in the future and we want to say that people are empowered to love themselves and find their style and really cherish what they have and and how they want to represent themselves through their style.

And so that's that's kind of where we see consumerism going and I think that style is really, really important and we need to move away from the trend-based marketing and messaging that's being pushed out to the consumer.

4. Is greenwashing the biggest opposition or hurdle to a more sustainable clothing industry? 

Kel & Em: Currently, yes, greenwashing is the biggest hurdle that we would say in moving towards sustainable fashion.

Obviously, there's always going to be other things that come up as we're navigating these new territories. But at the moment, greenwashing is a really big issue for us and other brands trying to bring sustainable fashion to the forefront.

I think what brands are doing with greenwashing is they're kind of creating this guilt-free buying by the customer. So the customer sees what they perceive so that they're creating these sustainable alternatives. And then they just by thinking that they're kind of doing the right thing, when it's not necessarily a sustainable or ethical choice.

Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat
Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat
Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat
Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat
Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat
Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat
Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat
Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat
Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat
Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat
Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat
Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat
Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat
Southern Wind Pant - Wild Oat

5. How do we better understand & identify greenwashing as customers?

Kel & Em: I think that comes back to what we briefly touched on before, and it seems like it's a really loose tie. But when we when we look at the self-love movement,it comes down to people really knowing themselves, really appreciating themselves and really valuing themselves and knowing themselves well enough to be familiar with the style.

And then they don't have to buy into the imagery that they're seeing in the marketing that's being put out there in the messaging that you're not enough and that you need to look a certain way to be enough.

An empowered consumer is going to trump greenwashing every single time. I think the key is the consumer in this picture that they're strong enough in themselves to ask the questions that need to be asked of the brand and and know what they need to buy in their life to express themselves.

I think the self-love movement, sustainable fashion people becoming empowered in themselves is such a key to the to the entire picture.

I also think there's a way that we can help people in that and help them kind of identify greenwashing - it's almost looking for that slight of hand by brands.

So they're kind of saying over here that they're all sustainable and they're using trigger words.

But when you go on to their website, where's where's the information to back up those claims? It's not something that takes hours of research, but it is so important just to go on to that about page or or try to actually look for those.

5. How do we better understand & identify greenwashing as customers?

Kel & Em: I think that comes back to what we briefly touched on before, and it seems like it's a really loose tie. But when we when we look at the self-love movement,it comes down to people really knowing themselves, really appreciating themselves and really valuing themselves and knowing themselves well enough to be familiar with the style.

And then they don't have to buy into the imagery that they're seeing in the marketing that's being put out there in the messaging that you're not enough and that you need to look a certain way to be enough.

An empowered consumer is going to trump greenwashing every single time. I think the key is the consumer in this picture that they're strong enough in themselves to ask the questions that need to be asked of the brand and and know what they need to buy in their life to express themselves.

I think the self-love movement, sustainable fashion people becoming empowered in themselves is such a key to the to the entire picture.

I also think there's a way that we can help people in that and help them kind of identify greenwashing - it's almost looking for that slight of hand by brands.

So they're kind of saying over here that they're all sustainable and they're using trigger words.

But when you go on to their website, where's where's the information to back up those claims? It's not something that takes hours of research, but it is so important just to go on to that about page or or try to actually look for those.

Conclusion

Now do you see why we adore Folktribe Clothing!?

Everything they do is steeped in doing the right thing by the planet, our people and their customers.

If only fast fashion retailers could pause for 5-minutes and try to adopt just 10% of Kel and Em's mindset, then we would have a much more ethical and sustainable fashion industry in Australia!

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