At simétrie, we are extremely proud to handmake all our products in Melbourne. In this installment of our blog, we take a deep dive into the rationale behind making locally. Read on to discover our processes and why during these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to support local businesses.
Here’s why all simétrie pieces are made locally
All simétrie products are made locally for two main reasons. The primary reason is the satisfaction that comes from making. As a brand, we live and breathe creating – in fact, it’s the key reason founder Simone Agius got into the bag business.
“I was born to be a maker. Seeing something transform from a two-dimensional sketch to a three-dimensional bag really excites me (other bag nerds will understand this). I’m also able to teach bag making workshops in the same space I make simétrie designs. It’s amazing to pass on this great feeling to other people who might be potential bag nerds in the making,” explains Simone.
The second central benefit of making in-house is the control we have over the production process. It’s often very challenging to guarantee ethical manufacturing in an external factory, especially when it comes to fair wages and treatment of workers. Monitoring sustainable and environmentally friendly practices such as safe disposal of waste is also difficult when you don’t have direct control over the process too. These factors are hard to control in any external factory, let alone in one that’s overseas. To keep control over these factors, we employ in-house staff and make all products at our Brunswick-based atelier.
Here’s who makes simétrie’s designs
Most of simétrie’s pieces are made personally by founder and designer Simone. However, we also work with a team of skilled freelancers who assist during times of peak demand and who’ve all been integral in shaping simétrie into the brand it is today. You can read more about some of our team members here.
But producing locally does come with its challenges
While there’s a great sense of satisfaction that comes with making locally, it does also come with significant hurdles. Unsurprisingly, most of these are economic factors and cost considerations. The majority of the expense in creating our products comes from paying Australian wages – which are around seven to eight times the cost of labour in China. This fraction is even scarier when compared to the lower wages being paid in Bangladesh or Vietnam. This, in turn, increases the price of the bags we make. Finding the right balance between paying fair wages for local workers, while providing enough value to the consumer is quite a challenge. To do so, we keep designs simple but functional – this balancing act is part of the reason the brand is called ‘simétrie’ (symmetry).
The other key challenge is finding a skilled workforce and the right infrastructure for bag making in Melbourne (or even Australia in general). Bag making is a very specialised craft, and since the industry collapsed due to a rise in off-shore manufacturing, there aren’t a lot of local workers who are highly skilled in this artistry. There are no local factories left in this particular niche, therefore another reason why we make in-house.
And finally, here’s why we should all be thinking about shopping locally
Melbourne-made brands are struggling as consumers reduce their spending during this difficult time. The economic downturn is not only going to affect brands, but also their supply chains. Brands that rely on local factories to make their goods will potentially be at risk if their factory goes under during this period – so now is the time to support each other and the local industry if we’re going to make it to the other side.
We suggest thinking outside the box if you have an upcoming occasion you need to buy a gift for. Perhaps your mum’s birthday is around the corner? Consider purchasing a piece of jewellery with meaning from a fellow-Victorian maker like Argent Silversmith. For your sister or friend who loves art, fashion, and design, consider a gift from a local ceramicist such as Kristen Olds or a pair of handcrafted shoes from Melbourne brand Nelson Made.
Not only will you be supporting local businesses during this time of economic hardship, but your gift recipient will also appreciate the personal and thoughtful touch.
If you are in the position to be able to treat yourself to some new clothing this season – after all, a bit of online retail therapy is always an excellent mood lifter – we recommend checking out local brands who make in Melbourne. Some of our favourites include: Sunshine Symbol, Arnsdorf, Limb, Perple, Coreprêt, Dreamstates Lounge, Lois Hazel and Permanent Vacation.