We spend at least a third of our lives in bed but we spend little time considering the quality and story of what we sleep in. Surry Hills local label ALAS have created a niche - ethical, sustainable, relaxed sleepwear with their own signature graphic prints. With a belief that as designers they have a responsibility to respect the planet and the people involved in making the garments, and also that the consumers have the right to know where and how their clothing was produced, ALAS has been committed to providing complete transparency in their manufacturing processes since their beginning 4 years ago. The Goods Tube are now proudly offering their organic, botanical pillow slips as a gift for new mothers. We chat with founders and designers Kelly Elkin and Betony Dircks about their vision for their brand.
Tell us a little about your background and how and why you ended up creating an organic sleepwear brand together?
We met on the first day of our fine arts degrees. Both from country NSW and with a similar taste to art and music, we quickly became friends and started our first sustainable brand. After university we travelled and worked as designers together in the UK. Working with high street retailers on sustainable projects gave us the inspiration to come home and start our own brand, we saw a gap in the market for well designed, quality sleepwear and of course we were to do it ethically!
You’ve made it part of your brand philosophy to be transparent about your manufacturing. This is an unusual and brave move for a fashion label. Why do you feel it’s important? How do people respond to such transparency?
It’s important for us as creatives to know the impact of our products and to share that with our customers. We focus on minimising our harm to the environment and maximising our positive impact with fair work…it’s important that people can find out where their clothes come from and understand the benefits of their purchases. We get a great response from people as they can truly value what they are wearing and buying.
You go to great expense and care to select organic fabrics. Why is organic fabric important for our bodies?
Our skin is the largest organ on our body and it absorbs things very quickly, including known harmful chemicals find on treated fabrics, dyes and inks. Why take the risk?
Tell us a little about your trips to India to visit your manufacturers.
We try to visit India regularly, and are actually due for another! Visiting India is always quite crazy, such a beautiful and lively country full of tradition and of course good food. The is a strong tradition of craftsmanship and it’s incredible to see this first hand. It’s important we work together with our producers closely by visiting them so we understand their culture and their way of doing business. If we don’t have this connection it is hard to build a strong and trusting relationship.
Earlier this year fashion giant H&M released their Conscious Exclusive Collection which uses all organic and recycled materials. Is there a real global trend towards more transparency and the use of organic materials, or is it just more ‘greenwashing’?
Over the past few years we have definitely seen an increase in awareness. Although organic cotton only makes up a small part of H&M products, they are the worlds largest user of this material, due to the sheer size of their business. Fast Fashion brands are inherently unsustainable, but unless consumers slow down consuming there will always be a demand, so if these large companies increase their responsibility…they do have potential to make widespread positive change. It will be interesting to see what the future holds.
We’ve seen your range expand from sleepwear to footwear and now pillow cases. What’s next for ALAS?
After an inspiring and successful trip to the U.S. you will soon find ALAS in more stores overseas, as well as an extended product line! Think basics…but with a twist!
Living and working in Surry Hills let us in on your local favourites….
Technically a pub..the Cricketers - one of the only places left in Surry hills without an over the top theme or recent renovation! Nice, quiet and community spirited.
Favourite place for dinner with friends?
The old farmhouse on Bourke st, near the school..although it’s being renovated as we speak!
What’s something only a local would know?
Being in the east, we seem to get an early sunset…the last and best place to get a glimpse of sunlight is at Shannon Reserve.