Jade Sarita Arnott Of Arnsdorf On Swapchain, Circularity, And The Future of Ethical Fashion

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 1 month ago | Features

Jade Sarita Arnott, founder and designer at Arnsdorf.

Jade Sarita Arnott is the founder and director of Arnsdorf. She designs directional incarnations of wardrobe staples (the kind of pieces we’re excited to outfit repeat in), and is unwavering in her dedication to ethical production. All Arnsdorf pieces are fairly-made, from sustainable materials, in Arnsdorf’s Ethical Clothing Australia-accredited facilities, and the label is also a certified B Corp.

We turn to Arnsdorf to build our winter wardrobes (the label’s Merino wool turtlenecks are the best), so we caught up with Jade to discuss her journey as a designer, the moment she discovered the problems in the fashion industry, and how Arnsdorf is leading the charge for a new future of fashion by showing how things can be done differently.

In related news: purchase any Arnsdorf piece this May and receive a complimentary Arnsdorf tote bag worth $40AUD for free! You don’t have to do anything, your tote bag will automatically be added to your order. You’re welcome! You can shop Arnsdorf here.

Well Made Clothes: Hi Jade! For those who aren’t super familiar with Arnsdorf (I doubt there are many in this audience), could you tell us a little bit about your background before Arnsdorf?

Jade Sarita Arnott: Hello! Sure, I came from a creative background, my parents met at Art School. I have always been interested in art and design and making things. I studied Creative Arts at VCA where I took subjects in visual art, sculpture, art history, creative writing, theatre studies and film making. At the same time I had started an accessories label and really enjoyed the process of creating and selling things I’d made. After I finished my first degree I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer so I went to RMIT University to train and get the skills I needed with the intention of creating my own label. I found that having a label allowed me to explore a range of my creative interests within it.

WMC: And what made you want to take this ethical direction with Arnsdorf?

Jade: It always felt natural to me to take an ethical approach to whatever I was involved in, so there were these intentions from the start as well as sustainability and making a positive impact on people and the planet. Then when the devastating Rana Plaza collapse happened it had a profound impact on me, I was so horrified that people had lost their lives in the pursuit of making clothes and decided that the only way to have Arnsdorf operate within this industry was to have full transparency of the supply chain. For us this meant creating our own Atelier in Melbourne where all our garments are made in-house.

WMC: If you had to state the ethical underpinnings of Arnsdorf in one sentence what would they be?

Jade: To make a positive and transformational impact in the lives of all who are connected to Arnsdorf, from the people involved within the raw materials supply chain, to the skilled team creating the garments and finally the women who wear our garments.

WMC: Arnsdorf was founded a few years ago now. How have you seen ethical fashion change during these years?

Jade: Yes, I think there has been an incredible shift in the past few years, the issues we had been talking about are now being considered by many, it’s no longer just the fringes - but the whole fashion industry’s ecosystem is starting to address issues around ethics. I think a lot of the momentum has come from customers demanding more transparency and higher standards of ethics from brands. Initiatives like Fashion Revolution have shone a light on these matters.

WMC: And what else do you think needs to change?

Jade: There still needs to be an increase in transparency by brands to disclose more information about their supply chains and who is producing their garments and at what cost. I believe accreditations are a useful tool to break through ‘green’ or ‘ethical washing’. That’s why it was really important to us as a brand to receive our B Corp certification as well as our Ethical Clothing Accreditation.

WMC: At a fundamental level, during this time, do you think there has been positive steps forwards towards a more ethical fashion industry?

Jade: I’m an optimist and I do see that there are positive steps taking place, the uptake of support for brands operating in more ethical ways is heartening.

WMC: You recently held the Arnsdorf Swap in collaboration with Melbourne Fashion Festival, Global Fashion Exchange and SwapChain. Tell us why you decided to embark on this initiative?

Jade: We are always looking for solutions to the problems our industry faces. Circularity, along with regenerative agriculture is a big focus for us. We were thrilled to be the first in Australia to bring the SwapChain technology from New York to our community (Swapchain was created by Lablaco and Global Fashion Exchange). We held a week-long event where customers could bring back their preloved Arnsdorf pieces and swap them for someone else's preloved piece. We’re interested in progressive ways we can combine technology and new systems for creative solutions and innovation in the garment lifecycle.

WMC: Swapping clothes so their life cycles can continue is part of the circular economy. How do you describe the circular economy and how would you like Arnsdorf to take part in it?

Jade: The circular economy is about keeping products in circulation for as long as possible and then utilising the raw materials in the used products to make something new, so the cycle goes on and is circular. We have been focusing on circularity in a number of ways. From a raw materials point of view, we’ve been utilising things like our Italian 100% recycled wool in our new Lauren Coat. As well as what we already offer from a life cycle perspective, the main one being we have always offered lifetime repairs, we are constantly looking at ways to take part in the circular economy. We have a few other initiatives on the horizon too, so watch this space. 

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