Meet the Designer: Ally Deam

Posted by Fiona McAlpine on

Designing The Slow Fashion Of The Fabric Social

By Monique Myintoo

Tapping into existing on-the-ground projects, The Fabric Social are creating a slow fashion movement that matters. Stepping away from the globalised, mass production of garments, their call resides in the prioritisation of sustainability, social responsibility and the eloquence of modern design. Tucked away from retailers selling their latest trends at incredibly unfair prices, The Fabric Social are passionate about empowering women in conflict-affected areas. Birthed from the complex relationships of fashion and ethics; founders Fiona McAlpine, Sharna de Lacy and Katie Rose set out to create pathways for women to not only imbricate themselves as economically independent, but to become proud and recognised for their soulful hard work. From cultivating the silks, hand-looming fabrics and maintaining their own traditional practices, The Fabric Social supports not only the livelihoods of entire communities, but the conscious decision to celebrate environmentally sustainable clothing.

Welcomed into The Fabric Social sisterhood in 2013, current RMIT student Ally Deam has found sanctuary and passion in designing behind the frontline of the brand.

Interpreting and challenging the possibilities of materiality, Ally has been acknowledged as a lead driving force; curating The Fabric Social’s first line of shirts alongside many other collections. “All of our beautiful silk and cotton fabrics are sourced and woven by hand in rural Assam,” Ally noted, “Whilst looms have little differences to those used before the industrial revolution, the fabrics we create are made with a modern consumer in mind.”

Keeping this consumption in mind, Ally is not one to shy away from the hard-hitting facts on how fast fashion is damaging the viability of the industry. “Consumer power is real. The way we buy and what we buy has catastrophic impact on the environment and the countless thousands of workers in fields and factories worldwide.

Unfortunately consumers are rarely made aware of the consequences of the decisions they make, from both lack of knowledge on their behalf, and the industry’s unwillingness to be open about manufacturing and production processes.”

As both The Fabric Social and Ally recognise, these discourses encasing the fashion industry need to be addressed — or, quite literally, undressed — to bring forth discussions and dialogue to an industry that’s tearing at the seams. “Slow fashion means being aware of the way you consume fashion. The Fabric Social is about buying quality over quantity and developing a personal identity in fashion.”

Finding this personality is what Ally does best; concerning her work around the growing amount of textile waste, both pre and post-consumer form. Although minimising waste is a driving force in her own practice, the fundamentals remain — how can we as individuals consume sustainably and ethically? As Ally articulates warmly, “In order for modern fashion culture to change, consumers need viable alternatives to the more seductive and addictive forms of fashion which have become the norm. The goal of the Fabric Social, is to be ethical, and be sustainable – but most of all, be fashion”.


This article was first published in RMIT Catalyst. To find out more about our supply chain, go here.

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