Some paper, a black marker pen, a flash of inspiration. Armed with those basics, Bamboo Body’s creative coordinator and graphic designer, Mel Broughton, sketched some gum tree leaves and scanned the drawing into her computer to see if it would work as a fabric print.
It needed just a few refining touches. Colours came next – the leaf outlines in ivory over a light blue background – and so, the Eucalyptus Print Collection was born in late 2018.
Its fresh, relaxed dresses and separates will be among several new season standouts presented at Fashion Exposed Now by Bamboo Body, the Sydney-based label founded in 2005 by sisters Elouise Danby and Amanda Naess.
“Look Good. Feel Good. Do Good” is Bamboo Body’s slogan. The philosophy behind it – clothing can be beautiful and sustainable – has never wavered, though one thing has changed dramatically.
Notes Elouise: “When we began, eco fashion was seen as a bit alternative; now it’s mainstream because awareness of global warming and damage to the environment has grown hugely.
“Back in 2005, Amanda and I realized there was a gap in the market for genuinely sustainable fashion.
“Australian cotton farms have a massively destructive impact on waterways, so cotton was out as a key material. Then we got some bamboo fabric samples and wow, they were amazing – so soft and light.”
As the sisters soon discovered, bamboo not only drapes like a dream and blends well with other natural fibres, but is breathable and absorbs moisture, making it ideal for sensitive skin. As for the bamboo plant’s exceptionally low carbon footprint – truly one of nature’s superstars!
Raised in NSW coastal town, Kiama – “still my favourite place in the world” – Elouise found herself at a sewing machine from age 13. “I’m small and read-to-wear didn’t work for me because I fell into the size gap between clothes for kids and adults, so I designed and made my own,” says the petite mother of two who heads operations and design at Bamboo Body.
The strategy devised by the Elouise and Amanda could serve as a blueprint for long-term success: predominantly trans-seasonal, affordably priced collections that focus on classic design, wardrobe staples, unique inhouse prints and – increasingly demanded by the public – production practices that are environmentally and socially responsible.
China has played a key role. The organically grown bamboo used by Bamboo Body is farmed in Yunnan Province and the Suzhou factory used by the company is committed to reducing emissions and recycling waste, and employs no workers under the age of 18.
Other sustainable measures at Bamboo Body include using recycled paper and cardboard, and transporting their manufactured garments by sea rather than air, though of course all depends on the success of the collections.
Their popularity in outlets across Australia looks set to continue. While women’s outerwear dominates, there’s also a menswear range and categories include underwear, sleepwear, maternity and knitwear which features blends such as bamboo/cashmere.
An important point of difference has been the talented Mel Broughton’s prints, first introduced three years ago. All have been hits and her latest designs will feature at Fashion Exposed Now.
“One of them is the Grid Print – a little abstract and great for woven pieces,” says Elouise Danby. “Another is a soft floral for a women’s pyjama collection that we’ll be launching at the fair.”
– Zelda Cawthorne