Hara Founder Allie Cameron On What Sustainable Lingerie Means

by: Rosie Dalton | 5 months ago | Features

Image: Allie Cameron, founder of HARA

Allie Cameron is incredibly passionate about sustainability and caring for the planet, but she is also totally down to earth and understands that many other consumers are on various stages of their ethical fashion journeys. Which is why she started HARA – a sustainable lingerie label that seeks to relate with all women. Focussed around items that we all wear every day, this small label is making a big impact with its focus on natural dyes, its use of sustainable bamboo and its beautiful philosophy of caring for both people and the planet. Here, she shares her inspiring journey with us.

Rosie Dalton: Can you tell us how Hara came to be and why you were so passionate about incorporating a sense of sustainability into the brand ethos?
Allie Cameron
: I have always been a big dreamer. At 17 I had a small business called Fashion Alley. I would buy second hand clothing and resell online. Looking back this was a really important experience in my life. I learnt so many lessons and skills that would not take fruition until years later, when I started HARA. My Dad helped me create a website, I photographed my friends after school and would spend my weekends searching through op shops and online for pieces to sell. It was an amazing time for me, and I loved the feeling of working on something meaningful, creating something from my heart.  

While travelling India, I was first faced with the environmental impact that the fashion industry is having on the planet. From the chemical runoff to plastic use, I saw that things needed to change fast in order for our planet to survive. After spending my time on farms and talking to cotton farmers, I wanted to create a solution to the problems – a clothing label where design meets sustainability. Where the environmental impact was considered every step of the way.  My vision lead to the creation of HARA (which means “Green” in Hindi).

Rosie: Why do you believe that sustainability is particularly important in the context of underwear?
: HARA was created to give people the opportunity to develop this awareness, develop these thought patterns and create discussion. We are here to show the world that it's possible to be in the business in fashion, without taking advantage of resources. And underwear allows us to relate these ideas to everyone. If we start with undies – something we all wear on a daily basis – we can create a discussion around this. Then everyone is included. Everyone is held responsible and accountable for the future environmental situation. 

Image: the Lena High Waist Undies in Ivory. Image source.

Rosie: Can you tell us about some of the ways Hara underwear seeks to minimise planetary impact?
: Firstly through fabric. We use a high-quality bamboo fabric, which is eco-friendly and produced in a closed-loop system. We only source our bamboo fabrics from suppliers that can provide organic certifications for the growing of the raw bamboo and OEKO-TEX 100 certifications, which proves that no harmful chemicals were used throughout the various stages of the process and no harmful chemicals are present at all on the final product. Bamboo is the most sustainable raw material on earth. You chop it about a foot from the ground and then it starts growing even faster and more thick. No pesticides, insecticides or fertilisers are used and only rainwater is used in growing. 

Secondly, through natural dyes and a natural filtration system, so no chemical waste occurs. We have recently created a natural dye house in Australia, so we are dying all our fabric in-house using only natural ingredients. It is important that we have control over this aspect as conventional dying process’ cause major damage to the environment and the people that live in those affected areas. Finally, our vision is to give back. To go into parts of the world under environmental stress and help them in any way we can.

Rosie: What about your approach to providing a fair and safe working environment for your manufacturers?
: All our intimates are produced on the island of Bali, Indonesia. We have four tailors that work from the comfort of their own homes. Family is at the heart of life here in Bali. It is important for them that they work with their family and enjoy family time as much as possible, while also making a living. The tailors are managed by Trisna, our Production Manager. One of her responsibilities is to ensure a safe and healthy workplace environment for all the tailors. She spends time with our tailors at their homes answering any queries they have and overseeing the production. We respect our tailors highly for the care, love and time they put into every piece.

We are also currently working on a production house in Australia, so eventually we can be 100% made in Australia and have full control over our supply chain. This will be a space of creation, love and support. Its important that everyone that is part of HARA feels empowered and appreciated. To design in the same room as those creating the items is the only way we can keep that connection between what we are creating and how it is made. HARA is a family of people, a group of people working towards a bigger cause. 

Image: the Leo High Cut Bra in Charcoal.

Rosie: Why do you feel that the provision of a living wage is so important, given the current fashion landscape?
: A living wage is common sense. As a species we are never going to hit the sweet spot of collective potential if we keep taking advantage of the people we share this space with. Everyone deserves the right to earn a living wage. There is no reason why people should be exploited and taken advantage of. For the world to move forward we need to empower and love each other. Clothing is such a massive part of today’s society and do we ever take a moment and think about the person that created it? The fashion industry is demanding and controlling and can leave those that are most vulnerable feeling powerless. Why do we have a billion-dollar industry that thrives of letting those at the core, starve?

Rosie: Do you feel that underwear sometimes gets left behind in the conversation around ethical fashion? If so, what can we do to combat that situation?
: I think the fact the buying ethical and sustainable underwear is this new concept creates an opportunity for us to really open up the door with as much authenticity and energy. None of my friends owned ethical/sustainable underwear and now, of course, they own a lot of it and are having conversations around it. Every movement, every change, every new idea has a starting point and I only feel optimism about the direction that these conversations are going. Life is about perspective, so it’s easy for me to say that because, as a founder of a sustainable underwear label, I have empowering conversations about ethical fashion every day. So I am constantly filled with love and hope that with enough motivation and hard work, this year is going to be the year for ethical fashion and I’m exited to be a part of it.  

Image: the Stella Low Cut Bra in Powder Blue

Rosie: Can you tell us a bit about your partnership with the Environmental Justice Foundation?
: The Environmental Justice Foundation is an amazing group of people working on environmental issues around the world. When I had a vision to create a platform that will allow me to give back to the environment, EJF were doing what I saw HARA eventually doing. Instead of waiting for HARA to have the money to back up the projects in my mind, it was a perfect solution to give proceeds form every purchase to EJF and support them. They are focussing on a range of issues from climate change, to pesticides, to plastic and cotton use.

Rosie: The shapes and colours of your underwear styles are super beautiful. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the cuts and colour palette?
: My designs are inspired by how the body moves. Being able to create an item that allows the body to move with comfort and is minimal but supportive. I like the pieces to have a playful, easy going look, carefree.  Japanese fashion inspires me and 90s fashion inspires me.

You can shop our full range of Hara over here.

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