Vege Threads Designer Amy Roberts On Breaking The Trend Cycle

by: Rosie Dalton | 8 months ago | Features

Image: the Vege Threads store, photographed by Jenna Agius

When Amy Roberts launched Vege Threads six years ago, it was with the vision of creating a sustainable line of responsible, versatile basics. Over the years that vision has expanded and branched off into new product categories, but the core principles of the brand have remained the same. Today, Amy and her team continue to push boundaries when it comes to sustainable construction and the continuation of local manufacturing, but the designer is also staunch in her belief that we should all be buying less and buying better.

It is for this reason that Vege Threads is one of our favourite modern brands. Timeless and versatile in terms of construction and colour palette – a virtue that comes from the label’s commitment to using plant based dyes – Vege Threads’ simple pieces including singlet dresses, tees and swimwear are so well made that they carve out a home in our wardrobes for the long-term. So we caught up with Amy about coming full circle design-wise and the importance of supporting local.

Rosie Dalton: Can you tell us about the importance of core ethics for your brand, Vege Threads? 
Amy Roberts
: I had to take a step back recently and look at where things had gotten to; whether VT was a true reflection of my values and design goals. I ended up coming full circle and re-visiting the reasons that I [first] started the business and how it looked back in 2012. I feel [that my recent designs] truly celebrate the simplicity of the brand and brings the design and ethos back to its roots. The earthy tones and classic shapes are now a constant and are being translated into new collections. I just kept telling myself: “Keep things simple and create your own story.”

Rosie: What are you inspired by when bringing VT pieces to life? 
: 2017 was a big year for VT and for myself personally. I took some time out after years of growth and, from that, wanted to strip the brand back to its core values. I travelled a lot, saw so many incredible landscapes, met inspiring people and all of this has helped to create a collection that I believe encompasses the things I felt were truly valuable to myself and to my business – creating practical yet beautiful pieces that cause the least environmental impact. I was inspired to create styles that could be worn day-to-day and last over the years. I read a lot of Patagonia founder Yvonne Chouinard’s texts while I was on the road. It fuelled my passion to create better products and a better business; to never settle and not be afraid to do things differently.

Image: the Vege Threads store, photographed by Jenna Agius

Rosie: I love the simplicity of your colour palette. It feels really fresh, but also timeless enough to remain in our wardrobes for many years to come. Why do you believe that this sense of timelessness is integral to responsible design within the current fashion landscape? 
Amy: I think you need to consider what’s suitable on a practical level. We only use natural tones that are inspired by our plant-based dyes. These colours suit a variety of complexions, hence making our products more accessible to more people. Being timeless in terms of design is the only way forward I feel. Times are changing so we need to adapt our practises accordingly, to enable our businesses to survive. I think (and hope) that the fast fashion, disposable model will slowly fade out, as awareness grows and our ‘need’ to consume decreases.

Rosie: And how do you seek to introduce design responsibly in other ways throughout the brand?
: Responsibility for Vege Threads is not just applied when it comes to design; it’s a whole business ethos. We have strived to improve our systems each year in addition to sourcing better fabrics, ensuring production quality and minimising our dead stock waste (of which there is now almost none). We have carried the ‘basics’ line since the beginning; proving that classic, well-made designs don’t have to follow trends. The cycle of ‘season’ to ‘sale’, I find very stressful and unnecessary. It’s actually an unrealistic time frame too, for good business to be thorough – errors occur when rushing, which becomes costly and wasteful in the end.

At VT we also think about all the add ons to the product. We ensure that things like packaging, tags and stationery are made locally, using environmentally or recyclable materials. The supply chain for VT is 100% onshore, which means that your t- shirt has been stitched locally, in an ethically accredited facility, and 80% of our fabrics are knitted and dyed locally as well (although our swim fabric is constructed offshore). This means our traceability is good, but this year we wanted to know even more about the entire supply chain from seed to garment. Being responsible to us means understanding where our dollars are going and how we can have the most positive impact from farm to customer and beyond.

We were very fortunate to join Fairtrade to trace our organic cotton supply back to its homeland in India. So we are working now on that element of the business and are also considering what impact we can have on the sale of that garment – we have some exciting news coming for 2018)

Rosie: And finally, what would you say are some small steps that we can all take as individuals to consume more responsibly? 
: I think that shifting your focus to your community is a good step. Support small businesses and give back to local economy. I find that most new, small businesses coming out of Australia are being more responsible, so it’s important to support them in doing things differently. I also feel that a positive step is simply to consume less. Buy things only when you really need them; especially clothing! We have such a disposable mindset and landfill is probably the biggest environmental issue at hand within the fashion industry. So, in short, I would say: shop less, buy local and look for quality. 

Image: the Vege Threads store, photographed by Jenna Agius


You can shop all our Vege Threads pieces over here.

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