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Foundling is een Fair Trade merk uit Australië, en is opgericht 2013. Het wordt gerund door de twee zussen Kim en Lee, die opgroeide in het Australische Byron Bay. De stad waar ze zijn opgegroeid is ook meteen de inspiratiebron voor hun designs. Byron Bay staat bekend als een plek waar veel hippie invloeden zijn, en Kim en Lee vertalen dit in hun designs door veel gebruik te maken van vrolijke kleuren, etnische prints en soepele, maar vooral ook lichte materialen. De ontwerpen van Foundling zijn vooral geschikt voor de warme zomerdagen.

Om nog meer over het merk te weten te komen hebben wij een uitgebreid interview gedaan met Kim. Lees hieronder alles over: hoe het merk is gestart, wat ze doen om verantwoord te produceren en hoe de toekomst van de mode eruit gaat zien.

How did Foundling start?

My sister Lee and I spoke about Foundling for many years and eventually started the business approximately four years ago, we still both work from home and our warehousing is also managed on site, so we have been really lucky to achieve life/work balance whilst we both have young children to consider.

What has been the journey until now?

Its been quite an adventure, neither of us are from fashion backgrounds so there has been a huge learning curve and whilst I’ve been in the business environment for many years, doing business with India is a new challenge for me, fortunately one that I’ve absolutely loved. I’d say our journey is still in its infancy as foundling evolves and grows and our customer base gets larger and more committed to supporting the label.

Do you have a timeline with all the highlights from the brand?

not especially, there has been lots of highlights (and low lights) too many to probably detail, but the highlight for us each year is travelling to meet with our suppliers in India, they have become like family to us and each year we discover new places and pick up little accessories for foundling on our journeys.

What motivated Foundling to become a Fair Trade brand?

We are both big believers in karma, so creating something with bad karma would go against our beliefs.  I think if customers could witness first hand the difference between an ethical facility and one which is operated without standards for their workers, they would appreciate that fast fashion comes at a very big cost for those workers who are forced to manufacture in sub-human conditions.

As women and as mothers, the thought of anyone suffering as a result of our manufacturing would be abhorrent to us.

Do you visit the factories on a regular basis to make sure that they keep the standard?

Our garment workshop in Delhi is a family run business that is regulated by the Indian Government and is a sedex accredited facility.  We visit the premises whenever we are in India and take comfort in the business being professionally accredited by what is recognised as the world’s largest platform for maintaining ethical manufacturing standards.

How is the conditions for the workers?

Our facility in Delhi is not what you or I would describe as state of the art, rather, its a traditional workshop where our small run collections are sewn largely by the tailors who have worked in the industry for many, many years. The workers are paid award or above award wages and work in a safe, clean friendly and professional environment and they are treated with respect and appreciated by the family who own the business.  I believe that many of the tailors have been with the company for more than twenty years.


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Will we ever be able to have a completely sustainable fashion industry?

Unfortunately, a large majority of the community seem to expect fast fashion, constantly discounted merchandise and extremely generous terms with respect to postage, returns etc, a scenario which is plausible only for high street retailers who rely on huge turnover in exchange for margins.  Here in Australia we are about to see the onset of automated shopping with Amazon, potentially a blow to small independent ethical labels, or perhaps customers will grow to value small labels for their efforts to produce both unique items and items with a cleaner ethical heritage.

I personally feel the only way that major developments will be made with respect to sustainability will be if legislation is introduced to protect both the rights of the workers in the garment industry and eventually, the production facilities with regard to their environmental pollution.  Australia recently banned the future importation of cosmetics that have been tested on animals, its an encouraging development and I hope that the fashion revolution movement will continue to pressure industry and political bodies about the exploitation of our fellow human beings who have ultimately to be equally or even more important than protecting harmless and defenceless animals.

For the above to happen in the short to medium term future, we need to apply pressure to industry bodies and politicians but we need also boycott labels who refuse to comply to being completely transparent about their production chain which should at minimum be accredited annually to ensure the health and safety of garment workers.

What will be Foundlings role in this future?

We will continue to be a small run, independent label and we pride ourselves on having fabrics and embroidery designs that are custom made rather than bought en masse.  All of our suppliers will continue to be audited and ultimately, we aim to move towards a greater emphasis on sustainable fabrics and packaging, both of these issues are already on our draft business plan and will be further progressed when we next meet with our garment workshop in September

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