For Surface Art Studio, sustainability is not an afterthought. We established the business to be an Australian business doing its bit to keep the local textile industry alive. From the start, we have been committed to designing and selling locally in the community where we live and work. In fact, all our design and much of our production happens within 5km of our studio in Inner West Sydney.
Australia is number two in the world for textile disposal. Some is donated but most goes into landfill, so the materials you use matter. For example, polyester can take more than 200 years to decompose. We primarily use natural fibres, with the occasional addition of elastane to provide stretch and help our garments retain their shape. We also aim to produce quality clothing in enduring designs that people will wear from season to season. We are about slow fashion.
At Surface Art Studio, we believe that everyone should play a part in sustainability and that small things can have a big impact. The sustainability landscape in fashion is complex and can be confusing. Read on to see how we are endeavouring to do our part.
Our screen-printed fabrics are handprinted in Sydney, just five minutes down the road from the studio. We are now printing digitally too. Digital printing enables us to use multiple colours and it gives a lovely handle to our fabrics. We work with a small printing company in China; the studio is certified and audited by independent agency SGS to evaluate ethical work practices and conditions.
Digital printing provides some positive environmental benefits: it uses less water, creates less ground pollution, and there is no excess ink due to the precise nature of ink-jet printing.
Keeping it local
Surface Art Studio is committed to reducing our carbon footprint and has been since the beginning. One of our guiding principles has been supporting local businesses. We carefully consider every collaborator based on how they do business and their proximity; most are family-run businesses in our neighbourhood. We are passionate about using local makers and screen printers, and we have long-term relationships with many of our suppliers.
You can't get more local than doing things in-house. In our Inner West studio, we make most of the homewares, cut the fabric for the skirts, and produce our sample ranges.
Plus, we design all the Surface Art original fabrics. Our designs are inspired by nature and the environment, and the objects and art and design movements that we love. Surface Art textiles are quite timeless, combining contemporary Australian and nostalgic influences.
Reduce and reuse
We are always thinking of ways to do more with less, and to make the best use of the materials we have. Some of the main ways we do this include:
- Selling most of what we produce. This may sound simple but producing the amount of fabric and clothing we need to sell is key to our strategy. We aim to accurately produce only what we need. We sell our small fabric offcuts to home crafters and sewers at reduced prices to eliminate waste.
- Upcycling remnants. The fabric pieces that are too small to be sold are donated to Boomerang Bags to be made into reusable shopping bags.
- Donating unsold clothing. Surface Art Studio donates unsold clothing to charitable organisations and has sent clothing direct to communities in need.
- natural fibres. Most Surface Art fabrics are made with natural fibres. There are many advantages for consumers, including that they will effectively biodegrade if they are ever in a landfill.
We use compostable packaging for orders up to 500g that can fit into compostable mailing satchels. The satchels are made from corn, plus a manmade binding agent for flexibility. You can put them in with food scraps or garden waste – or add them to your worm farm.
Currently there is no option to use our own packaging for orders between 500g and 5kg and receive the best Australia Post rates.
Creating quality goods that stand the test of time
We say we are in the “clothing” not the “fashion” industry. What we mean is that we design clothing, homewares, and fabric that is timeless and high quality. It is not meant to be disposable. The core of our business is designing and producing products that will stand the test of time. Some of ways we do this are:
- Creating items with longevity. Wearability, comfort, and longevity are considered carefully as every piece is crafted. Surface Art Studio is not about being on trend, but about creating garments that can be loved and enjoyed for decades.
- Designing for all women. We create designs that work for women in their twenties through to their eighties. And we design with all women in mind, with sizes up to 20. We truly want to have something suitable for every woman.
- Providing diversity of design. We design most of our own fabrics, but we also have a special line, Theadora Jones, inspired by Moyra’s mother and her love for sewing and fabrics. We create limited edition clothing and homewares from curated fabrics sourced from overseas.