Let’s talk about symmetry. Balance, equilibrium and stability. It’s something that the fashion industry desperately needs.
Did you know, that 80% of global textiles are lost to landfill or incineration? This is even more alarming when you consider the report that fashion production doubled from 2000 to 2014, exceeding 100 billion items globally.(1)
Oxfam Australia recently released it’s What She Makes report that found most of the women who make our clothes simply cannot afford a decent standard of living against Global Living Wage Coalition benchmarks. It was found Bangladesh and Vietnamese factory workers who work for Australia’s $23.5 billion fashion industry earn as little as 51 cents per hour.
Meaning more than 98% workers in Bangladesh and 52% workers in Vietnam earn below a living wage. Of the workers in factories that supply to major brands in Australia, 72% Bangladesh and 53% Vietnamese cannot afford medical treatment when they get sick or injured.
While nine out of ten workers interviewed in Bangladesh cannot afford enough food for themselves and their families, forcing them to skip meals or go into debt trying to find money for food.
There’s plenty more shocking reports out there, but it’s clear the fashion industry is completely out of symmetry with the environment and basic human rights.
Who are we?
My name is Simone and I’m the founder of Simétrie. I’m a designer who specialises in hand-bags with experience tutoring bag-making and design skills at RMIT. I launched Simétrie to help create a positive change in the fashion industry.
Simétrie has a “slow” fashion business structure to create ethical fashion, with all our hand-bags designed and handcrafted in Melbourne by people paid a fair working wage. The brand ethos is built on the human desire for style, sustainable fashion, fair work wages and workshops that empower consumers to create their own.
Designed in a range of sizes and colours, all our leather bags are made from vegetable tanned wild Australian grey kangaroo leather, which has been sourced from necessary wildlife management. As well as water-based glues and natural threads.
We run our workshops in our Brunswick studio in Melbourne, aiming to educate consumers on the creative and production processes of hand-craftsmanship and encourage the shift away from fast fashion.
I also wanted to share the feeling of creation, because creating something from scratch that people see value in, really is the best feeling in the world.
When I was looking at the raw materials, I knew they had to be 100% natural with no synthetics where possible as I’m a strong advocate for zero plastic consumption.
It’s reported that 91% of plastic waste isn’t recycled. Almost every piece of plastic that was ever made (including synthetic fibres used in fashion) can exist for up to a thousand years and pollute our environment, especially our oceans.(3)
It’s also been reported by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic by weight than fish in the sea.*
So when I realised natural and biodegradable animal products were necessary, I wanted to ensure it was sourced from the most ethical source possible. As wild kangaroos are not farmed, it was a clear choice.
Kangaroo leather is a luxury material that performs so beautifully, and matched the value and time it takes to handcraft our bags.
I’m a vegetarian and aware that the leather route is not a perfect solution. The aim is to keep sourcing eco-friendly and ethical materials that can be used to transform into bag designs that people will adore. We have exciting plans to introduce new styles using materials such as organic cotton and hemp in future collections.
All our leather is vegetable tanned, which is the most eco-friendly choice for treating leather. The process involves using plant based ingredients instead of the dangerous chemicals used in chrome tanned leather.
And the name Simétrie? It’s a twist on my own name and ‘symétrie’, the French word for symmetry.
I have been searching for a long time a means to combine all my passions into one project and I believe Simétrie is that thing.
- Fashion Revolution Issue #2
- Oxfam ‘What She Makes’ Report
- Ellen MacArthur Foundation