Standing up for Kiwi-made style

Shop lending makers a hand

KELSEY WILKIE
Last updated 09:00 28/06/2014
Barabajagal owner Renee Dingwall
DAVID UNWIN

CONSCIOUS CONSUMER: Barabajagal owner Renee Dingwall hopes her store will help in the fight against fast fashion.

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A Palmerston North store owner is trying to fight the fast fashion faction.

Barabajagal store owner Renee Dingwall is concerned about the trend of high volumes of garments being sold at low prices and wants to change consumer thinking.

Barabajagal is a boutique shop in Palmerston North that sells gifts for parents and small children.

"We support handmade, New Zealand made and work-from-home parents," Dingwall said.

The shop has a recycled section where children's garments are made from old adult jumpers.

She has been running her store for about a year and said competing with large retail stores was becoming increasingly difficult as their prices continued to drop.

She said it was tough to compete when she sells T-shirts for $28, while larger retailers can sell them for as little as $2.

"With the $2 T-shirt - how many hours went into making that T-shirt and how much will the person who makes the T-shirt be getting?

"The thing that we've been saying to people is . . . it's a mum who spent how many hours making this $28 T-shirt. The more we start looking at our handmade things and what goes into that, the more we start to get concerned with what's happening overseas."

Massey University senior design lecturer Holly McQuillan said there had been a shift in clothing manufacturing worldwide in recent years.

She said there was greater consumer awareness surrounding retail manufacturing, which she said could be linked to the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh last year where more than 1130 garment workers were killed.

But she said there was still a demand for lower prices.

Some consumers were aware and wanted to change their consumption behaviour, but on the other side of it were people who did not care.

"Consumers are really excited about being able to buy clothes really cheap. People don't want to pay loads of money for clothes and the reality is that clothing has never been cheaper than it is now.

"It drives prices down - consumers fundamentally are the ones driving all of this.

"Overall, it's about volume of garments that are being sold and within a context of fast fashion, the volumes are staggering and increasing. In order to sustain that kind of business model it's imperative that it is manufactured at the lowest possible cost.

"You have to change consumer behaviour and in order to do that you need to provide them with an alternative."

Fast fashion companies needed to develop new ways of producing clothing so that they didn't need to produce low-cost items in low-wage economies, exploiting people and the environment, McQuillan said.

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