Fashion an Education with Le Dessein

Monday, August 24, 2015

The following Guest Post is written by Megan, from LA-based, socially minded upscale fashion brand called Le Dessein.  Le Dessein's motto is "fashion is an opportunity".

“Women hold up half the sky”


In recent years, much attention has been given to the plight of oppression of women and girls around the world, due in part to the Half the Sky movement inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's best-selling book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. One incredibly important way to help bring women and girls out of oppression is through education; out of the world’s approximately 170 million children that lack access to education, 70% are girls.

The fact that any children are not receiving a proper education is, of course, worrisome. In the case of young girls, however, the issue tends to be more pressing. Girls are often denied access to education because of traditional beliefs in certain societies that prescribe a higher importance to girls learning how to run a household rather than learning how to read, write, and acquire basic mathematical skills. Women make up about two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population, reflecting the fact that well over half of the girls in some developing nations are not able to receive the education they deserve.

You might be wondering: what can we do to help amend the situation? Many girls in these nations are unable to attend school because they lack the resources necessary to cover the costs of tuition and school supplies that are essential to getting a full education. So what is this post about girls’ education doing on a blog about sustainable fashion? That’s where fashion brand Le Dessein comes in. In an effort to change the lives of girls around the world (and the communities and countries they live in), Le Dessein is committed to donating 25% of their profits to pay for the yearly tuition rates of young girls in countries where access to education may be difficult or not prioritized.

Le Dessein began this venture by working with girls in Liberia, where 77% of the poorest girls aged 7 to 16 have never been to school. This work was done in conjunction with the More Than Me Foundation, a foundation committed to helping young girls who live in some of the poorest slums in Liberia get an education and keep them off the streets. Le Dessein’s starting goal is to be able to help 10,000 girls get the education they deserve, and they are looking to expand their reach to Haiti in the upcoming year to further this work.

Le Dessein specializes in upscale women’s wear. Their high-end dresses, sweaters, and tops bring classic, season-less looks that attest to their desire to bring luxury wear into the socially responsible fashion world. This year, they also expanded to include a bracelet line. Each bracelet is comprised of a unique kind of gemstone that boasts some kind of inspirational or healing element. What really sets Le Dessein apart, though, are the designs embroidered onto each item of clothing from their line. In an effort to boost the self-confidence and creativity of the girls being supported in Liberia, an activity of taking photographs of friends and family was undertaken by the girls. They then used these photos to create drawings that became the basis for the embroidered images on Le Dessein’s clothing line. Through an education and creative activities such as this, Le Dessein’s ultimate goal is to empower and encourage these young women to lead the lives that they wish to lead rather than being forced to accept the path that might be traditionally placed on them. With an education, a greater breadth of opportunities is given to these girls, opportunities that might never have been possible without proper schooling.

None of this would have possible without the creative mind of founder Eric Coly. Eric is no stranger to the effects that empowerment and education can have on women; he comes from a long line of matriarchal influence. His grandmother attended college in the early 1920s in Senegal, an incredible accomplishment for a woman in Africa in that time. Her youngest daughter, Eric’s mother, also went on to attend college, this time in France. His two sisters both have received post-doctorate degrees in their turn. After taking a career in banking that fulfilled what he believed to be path worthy of his family and education, Eric realized that he needed something more in his career, something that could fill the creative space that was lacking in the world of finance. To pay homage to these extremely influential women in his life and to find a career that would work as an outlet for his creativity, Eric turned to the socially responsible fashion world, still a relatively obscure corner of the fashion industry at the time.

He wanted to create a label that could show how stylish and luxurious ethical fashion could be, rather than the “hippy” and casual styles that ethical and sustainable brands tended to lean towards. His hope is that through Le Dessein, not only will he be able to bring luxury clothing with a conscious to the world, but he will also be able to help young girls in need of an education see that with their artwork being worn by people around the globe (and with the knowledge that school affords them), they can break out of the roles that the patriarchal societies they live in so often tend to burden them with.

Care about these girls. Care about the world. Shop at Le Dessein ( to fashion an education for young girls in need.

Facts from the UNESCO Girls’ Education Fact Sheet

You can find Le Dessein on the following social media channels:

Twitter: @Le_Dessein

Clothes Swapping at Copenhagen Fashion Week - GUEST POST

Friday, August 14, 2015

The following guest post is written by Sherylyn Oben

When you think of Fashion Week, it usually conjures up images of the newest designer fashion, impeccably-dressed style stars and chic models sashaying on the catwalks. Recently concluded Copenhagen Fashion Week had all that, and more.

:: Photo Credits: Sherylyn Oben / SurveyBee ::

Since it was fashion week for a city that prides itself for being the greenest in the world, this year’s event also highlighted Danish fashion industry’s initiatives to promote sustainable consumption and environmental responsibility.

In what almost appears like the antithesis of mainstream fashion, the event’s three-day run was capped off last Saturday with the first Fashion Exchange, a huge clothing swap market held in the city hall square. Armed with big paper bags and a good eye for spotting steals, hundreds of Copenhagen locals flocked to the venue to exchange their unwanted clothing for a free new wardrobe.

“I think it is a brilliant idea. We get to give our old cherished clothes new homes, we get to bring home “new” clothes from the swap for no cost at all, all while doing our planet good,” said one of the participants. “I think it’s high time that the fashion industry promote sustainability. Copenhagen is a very good example and I hope other cities also follow suit.”

All excess clothings and other remainders were donated to Asylum Centre Sandholm via Danish Red Cross.

Sherylyn Oben is a photographer and content creator for online survey aggregator SurveyBee

An Insight into Oxfam Shop: Oxfam Australia

Saturday, August 8, 2015

I first became aware of Oxfam as a young charity shopper in Britain. One of my favourite charity shops happened to be an Oxfam store in the small English town in which I lived. I enjoyed shopping for donated recycled bargains in my local Oxfam charity shop, yet at the same time appreciated some of the fair trade products and gift cards also sold in the same retail outlet.

Oxfam outlets in Australia are quite different to that of their British cousin retail shops. Walk into an Aussie Oxfam Shop and you won't find donations for sale, but instead a vast range of fair trade and ethical products gathered from global artisans.

Oxfam's Sara Pelvin has taken some time to answer some questions for Recycled Fashion, relating to Oxfam's Australian trading arm. 

Q: Oxfam's online store sells fair trade products from no less than 28 countries. Can you tell me how Oxfam finds its in-country artisan organisations to partner with, and if there is a selection process in which products are chosen to sell to Oxfam customers?

Oxfam's buyers find producer partners to work with in a variety of ways. Some are producers that we have been working with for years while others are found through trade shows, during in country visits, on recommendation from other Oxfams or other Fair Trade organisations or through direct contact.

:: One of Oxfam's producer partner's Noah's Ark ::

In 2013, Oxfam also introduced a system by which we review our producers more systematically to ensure they are meeting Fair Trade and ethical standards. These reviews are done when we visit a producer, through reviewing audits and assessments that have been done by or for the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) or Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO), reviewing our Producers Annual Reports and also by asking producers to complete our own OAT Producer Assessment Form.

As part of this system, all potential new producers will be reviewed by the Buying Team and the Corporate Accountability and Fair Trade Adviser, and approval to work with them needs to come from the General Manager Trading. Any new producer who is not a member of the WFTO or FLO is required to fill in our OAT Producer Assessment Form.

Q: In what way are customers helping global communities when they choose to buy a fair trade product from the Oxfam Shop?

Through fair and ethical trade consumers are empowering disadvantaged communities by paying them fair and stable prices for their work. Consumers are helping to break the cycle of poverty by supporting producer businesses. In addition to this, the work that Oxfam does with our producer partners helps them to gain the skills they need to develop their business and gives them access to world markets to ensure sustainable, long term businesses.

:: Earth Bracelet::

Q: What are Oxfam's bestselling fair trade products?

Our bestsellers at the moment are our delicious Oxfam fair brand of coffee, tea and chocolate. Oxfam's World Blend is the most popular coffee product with the Oxfam fair Milk Chocolate with Coffee Nibs being the most popular chocolate.

Taking food products out of the picture (which are always our most popular) other bestsellers include all sorts of things such as fruit bowls, cookbooks and bags.

:: Recycled Bike Chain Bowl ::

Q: In Britain, Oxfam stores are generic charity shops, which sell donated recycled wares as well as fair trade products - do you think a similar formula could work in Australia, whereby Oxfam stores become a chain of opportunity shops which sell recycled wares alongside fair trade products, to raise money for Oxfam's greater cause?

:: Oxfam charity shop in Shropshire, England ::

As Oxfam already have a very active and effective fundraising arm we see the best utilisation of our retail space in Australia to be supporting our producers around the world as they continue to operate businesses in a long term sustainable way.

Q: Where can Australian customers buy Oxfam fair trade products?

You can purchase Oxfam Shop products online at, in the coffee, tea and chocolate aisles of Australian supermarkets or at any of our following shop locations:

ACT: Canberra, The Canberra Centre
NSW: Sydney, Broadway Shopping Centre
QLD: Brisbane, Level 2, Myer Centre
QLD: Garden City Shopping Centre
SA: Carles Street Plaza (just off Rundle Mall)
TAS: Launceston, Centreway Arcade
VIC: Chadstone Shopping Centre
VIC: Carlton, 132 Leicester Street
VIC: Walk Arcade, (just off Bourke Street Mall)
WA: Fremantle, 22 Queen St (Cnr Adelaide Street)
WA: Perth, 872 Hay Street (near Shafto Lane)

:: Elephant Jute Mat ::

Q: Are there plans to increase Oxfam's fair trade product range?

We will be continuing our 24 page catalogues throughout 2015 and 2016 (except at Easter which is a smaller catalogue) - and will be expanding our distribution of these catalogues for the Christmas period.

:: Upcycled Paper Coaster ::

Do you shop for fair trade products either for yourself or as gifts for your loved ones?  Are you aware of the products sold by Oxfam?  Check out Oxfam Shop's full range here.


*Disclaimer - this blog post brings me no monetary gain, I merely admire all the good things Oxfam does a charity, and very much enjoy browsing Oxfam's stores both within Australia and Britain.

Win a Custom Made Dress by Studio MüCKE

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

If you love a man's shirt refashion as much as I, then take a moment to admire Ellie Mücke's fabulous upcycled shirtdress and shirttop creations.

:: Upcycled Shirtdress by Studio MüCKE ::

Ellie Mücke has been making new fashion out of old for years. When she graduated from RMIT University with a BA in Fashion, Ellie became increasingly frustrated with unsustainable practices seen in commercial fashion.  In 2007, Ellie formed her own ethical range of upcycled clothing, under her own label Studio Mücke.

:: Upcycled Shirttop by Studio MüCKE ::

Fast forward 8 years, and Studio Mücke has become an established women's clothing brand in the ethical fashion field, producing a range of stylish pieces using men's reclaimed garments. A number of shirttops and accessories can be purchased online, alternatively, custom made pieces can be purchased using an online ordering process, giving you the option to choose your fabric and appropriate size.

Right now, there is a competition to WIN a custom made dress by Studio MüCKE. One lucky winner will get to select their very own custom made shirttop or shirtdress, just in time for Spring (or Autumn if you live in the Northern Hemisphere). To enter, all you have to do is sign up to Studio MüCKE's newsletter, and follow on Instagram. Bonus points for sharing the competition with the hashtag #studiomuckecomp.

Would you like to add a Studio MüCKE shirtdress to your wardrobe? I certainly would! 


David Bowie is opens in Melbourne

Friday, July 24, 2015

Red and blue lightning bolts, synonymous with David Bowie’s make up that adorns the face of his 1970’s alias Aladdin Sane can be seen scattered throughout Melbourne. 

Banner advertisements relating to the magnificent David Bowie is exhibition, which opened at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) on 26 July, welcome visitors far and wide to Federation Square.

:: David Bowie is c/o ACMI ::

The highly anticipated exhibition arrives in Melbourne from London’s V&A Museum, celebrating Bowie’s impressive 50 year entertainment history in music, fashion, art and film.

:: David Bowie is image credit Mark Gambino ::

After seeing the exhibition today, I am blown away. David Bowie is, presents spectacular displays of Bowie’s iconic costumes, album artwork, videos, film clips, objects, memorabilia, hand written song lyrics and personal art work, allowing you to fully appreciate the achievements of arguably the greatest cultural icon of our time. Having spent an hour embracing David Bowie is, I am left in awe of what an inspiration Bowie has been, and still is.

:: David Bowie is image credit Mark Gambino ::

Bowie’s evolution as an entertainment artist is quite spectacular, reaching the ultimate cultural icon status with his many androgynous fictional persona’s in the 1970’s and 80’s, which still influence today’s popular culture.  (Examples of which can be seen on this article: 6 Fashion Trends Inspired by David Bowie's Famous Personas).

Bowie’s music is timeless, and can be enjoyed just as much today as when each song was first played, however, it is his radical individuality and theatrical stage presence that has really paved the way to his commercial success and inevitable cult status.

Entry into David Bowie is, is booked by a ticket with an allocated time slot on the hour, allowing only 200 visitors into the exhibition at one time. Right now, the exhibition is extremely popular, and it is highly recommended you book your ticket onlineDavid Bowie is; a must see – on until 1 November, 2015


Salvos Stores Loyalty Club Card

Friday, July 10, 2015

I might be a bit slow off the mark here, but did you know Salvos Stores now offer a loyalty card to customers?

The Salvos Stores Loyalty Club Card scheme, introduced in March 2015, covers 215 retail shops across Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

It doesn't cost you anything to join; you can register online and you will be sent your card in the post.  The reward system works by gaining 1 point for every $1 spent.  Once you hit 50 points, you can then start redeeming against purchases in Salvos Stores.

I've just registered for mine, you can do the same here >    Alternatively, join up at your nearest Salvos Store.

Happy days!


Vinnies Victoria Winter Style Challenge

Sunday, July 5, 2015

This winter, Vinnies Victoria want to help spread the message that second-hand clothes are just as warm, and asked a handful of bloggers to demonstrate ways to look stylish for less.

Vinnies Victoria sent a beautiful vintage black Perri Cutten jacket my way, featuring metallic threads shot through the base fabric to style with existing pieces from my wardrobe to brighten up dreary Melbourne day.

:: Perri Cutten Jacket from Vinnies ::

I do love the sparkles through this jacket, but to dress it down a little for daytime wear, I've chosen to wear red jeans, borrowed from a friend, suede wedge heeled boots, an op shopped beanie / knitted hat, and an op shopped polka dot bag.

The red and black theme all started with a vintage cherry brooch (worn on the jacket lapel) that I picked up from the first Revival Market at Mornington Racecourse. The brooch is from a vintage seller Designer Showcase, a label that specialises in vintage brooches from the 1940s to 1970s

:: Vintage cherry brooch from Designer Showcase ::

As well as styling the jacket, Vinnies Victoria also asked to answer the following questions:

Q. What style of winter coats do you find yourself reaching for the most on cold winter mornings?

A. I often revert back to my Bauhaus red winter duffle coat that I found in Salvos five years ago. It keeps me warm, even on brisk mornings.

:: Bauhaus red winter duffle coat::

Q. What’s your top advice for finding the best op shopping bargains?

A. There are many tips (I have previously published a list here), but my best advice would be to browse op shops often. Op shopping is a bit of pot luck; you could go home with many new wardrobe pieces on one visit, or go home with nothing. The more frequently you pop into an op shop, the more likely you will be to find a potential bargain or two.

Q. What’s your favourite thing you’ve ever found at Vinnies?

A. That's an easy one. A pair of vintage Kurt Geiger t-bar heels that I found for $8 at Vinnies in Edithvale. I found the perfect outfit for them on this night almost a year ago.

Thanks Vinnies Victoria for the winter style challenge - that was fun!

By the way, I've also popped into My Poppet Blogs.  You can read my guest post The Joys of Choosing Recycled Fashion HERE.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...