With the Adelaide Fashion Festival nearly here (can you believe it’s this week already?!) I caught up with the talented Sophia of Adelaide fashion label autark. Showing at this year’s AFF as a part of the SLOW Saturday event, autark’s philosophy centres around sustainable and ethical fashion. Its range of unique, modern and minimalist designs are created here in Adelaide from the most luxurious natural fibres, silks, cottons and linens. I chatted to Sophia about her label, why she chose ethical and sustainable fashion and what inspires her designs.
Why did you begin autark?
I launched autark because I felt somewhat conflicted about the state of fashion today. I am absolutely in love with clothing, fabrics and design in general and the idea of wearing clothing as a form of self expression, however I am also aware of the negative impact the fashion industry can have on the environment.
I wanted to start a label that was strongly design focused, but operated through ethical practices. I also wanted to stay living and working in Adelaide. All of these factors led to the launch of autark.
How is autark ethical and sustainable?
All autark pieces are wholly constructed in Adelaide; in that they are conceived, pattern made, fitted, cut and constructed here. Though it’s not without its challenges, this model is great as it allows me to have a great amount of control over the process and the finished pieces. It also means that I can support machinists working in Adelaide with work, and ensure that all pieces are constructed ethically.
We also use 100% natural fibers, which not only feels incredible for the wearer but also launders much more responsibly than synthetic fibers – and breaks down much more readily at the end of the clothing’s life cycle.
Finally, the majority of the fabrics that we utilise are deadstock fabrics; they are excess or unutilised fabrics left over in the industry that may have otherwise gone to waste.
Are autark’s minimalist designs a reflection of your own style?
I think for the most part yes. My style is fairly minimal, however I do sometimes throw a curveball and pop on something that is a bit more detailed or complicated.
When I’m designing, I feel that minimal pieces can incorporate small elements that are somewhat directional and fashion forward, while still feeling wearable for longer periods of time – and not necessarily like they are designed to be part of a trend. autark is a slow fashion brand, and I really try to design around the idea of a customer who is particularly thoughtful about their fashion choices, and chooses investment pieces rather than larger volumes of clothes.
What do you enjoy most about being a fashion designer?
The creative side is absolutely fantastic. Going through that process of thinking something up in your mind, drawing it, making the pattern then seeing it come to life in front of you still absolutely floors me. I’m also incredibly fascinated by the pattern making process; the way that a completely 2D piece of paper can then form a 3D garment that follows the complicated curves and shapes of a human body is pretty amazing to me.
Finally, as a small business owner who runs production entirely out of Adelaide, I end up wearing many hats for the business, from design and pattern making, to marketing, to monitoring inventory… every day is different. I really love the variety, and it keeps me on my toes.
SLOW Saturday takes place on October 20 at The Torrens Parade Grounds. To support autark, and sustainable and ethical fashion in Adelaide, you can buy tickets here.