Three young women with a goal to change the way people shop and to educate customers about eco-friendly fabrics. Ahimsa Collective use sustainable materials such as Pinatex® and Dead Stock fabrics. Pinatex® is a natural and sustainable non-woven textile made from the fibres of pineapple leaves. Essentially a bi-product of the pineapple farming industry. Dead-stock is old fabric waste that would be sent to landfill if this wonderful brand did not incorporate it into their designs! No waste to be seen here guys, moving on!!
Tell us about your brand and what you do.
Ahimsa Collective is an Australian accessories label.
Delicately handmade in Australia, each product is made from Pinatex, dead-stock or sustainably sourced washable paper materials that would have otherwise contributed to waste. By up-cycling these materials, we are filling a current gap in the market for mainstream, on-trend but also environmentally beneficial products, aimed at the commercial consumer market.
We are not just environmentally friendly but also environmentally beneficial, with the intention of reducing the amount of waste on the planet and the impact of the fashion industry. Our ethos is aimed at not only reducing the footprint we have on the planet – but attempting to reverse it.
We are for those who are trendy A.F but also don't want the world to blow up.
When and how did you start?
We individually shared the same desire and ‘wish’, wanting a better option from the fashion industry. Leather handbags and accessories were the norm and that didn’t sit well with us. It also didn’t sit well with us to support and purchase alternatives made from PU because of the environmental impact and harmful emissions that production process has.
We each looked for alternatives that were ethical to both animals, human workers and the environment, but also ticked the box for luxe design. In the end, we couldn’t find anything so we got off our arses and decided to make it ourselves. We knew we weren’t alone in looking for this cruelty-free and luxury mix, so that’s where the Ahimsa Collective journey began.
We first collaborated 18 months ago and launched in March 2018. Although we always have to remind ourselves that we’re ‘publicly’ not even a year old, it feels like it’s always been this way and we’re so grateful to have done some pretty awesome things already.
What has challenged you most since starting your business?
As we are working with innovative materials, it’s been a challenge sourcing these materials, as they are currently in low demand and have high production costs. Once we finally have our hot hands on the materials we want to work with, then comes the challenge of building products from materials that haven’t been used before. Most machines are made for leather and it is trial and error whether something if going to work or not. We have had to become very creative and adaptable.
The highlight has been the incredible support we have had along our journey. People really believe in what we are doing and want to get involved and help, which has built such a strong community around the brand.
Where are your products made?
We are currently working with a local craftsman in Sydney, Australia who has hand made all our current collections.
Meet the makers: Can you tell us about the people who make your products?
Currently, we only work with a single craftsman. He’s quite a reserved man but one who will give you a belly-ache from laughter once you get to know him.
He’s been working within the industry in Australia for a very long time and has seen the highs and lows of it. He’s also learnt alongside us about the new materials and opportunities becoming available.
You can actually read some more about him here https://www.theahimsacollective.com/blogs/ahimsa-collective/the-man-with-the-magic-hands
Where do you draw inspiration from?
As cliché as it may sound, we are inspired by one another. While our backgrounds are vastly different, we find ourselves drawing inspiration and energy from one another.
We also draw on each of our own experiences, the world around us and those who are fighting the same fight either within the fashion industry or their own industries. That really gives us a “can-do” attitude and inspires us to push boundaries and continue on our quest.
What is your main ethical and sustainable agenda?
To not just be environmentally friendly but also environmentally beneficial. Our intention is to reduce the amount of waste on the planet and the impact of the fashion industry. Our ethos is based on not only reducing our footprint on the planet – but built on an attempt to reverse it. This is done through the materials we choose to use and turn into our luxury collections, thus filling a current gap in the market for mainstream, on-trend products aimed at the commercial consumer market. We also offer a Recycling option for our products. This means that at the end of it’s life or if the customer has outgrown it, they can simply send it back for us to recycle in return for 10% off a new item. We also ensure we pay it forward by donating $5 from every sale to a local Australian charity – currently, this is GhostNets Australia, whose mission is to remove washed up marine debris on our coastlines.
Which of eco.monos ethical values do you align with?
Fair (Human rights)
Locally Made (In Australia)
Sustainable (natural, organic fabrics etc)
Up-cycled (dead stock fabric)
Vegan (Animal cruelty free / no animal products)
Quick Fire Round!
If you could be any animal what would it be and why?
That’s a tricky one to answer. As a brand, we’re not sure what we would be. Likely an ocean-dwelling animal as collectively that is where we are each drawn, and ocean conservation is what we choose to donate to through our sales.
What is one of your weird quirks?
Each of us [the three Directors of AC], like any team, bring our own quirks. Which makes us, us, and Ahimsa Collective. The best is probably the ‘slang’ terms between the west coast and east coast, and Australia and England [where our Managing Director hails from]. There have been so many ‘omg what did you just say’ moments on our inter-state calls.
What is your favourite movie quote?
We recently ran a screening of the documentary The True Cost. While it’s not a movie or perhaps a typical ‘movie quote’, one from this which really shook us and those watching it with us, was “There are roughly 40 million garment factory workers worldwide, the majority of whom make less than $3 a day”. Something we are trying to communicate through AC is to bring transparency to the industry and who is making our garments.
You can invite 4 people to a dinner party, dead or alive who would you invite?
It is virtually impossible to answer this between the three of us - like where do we even begin?!
Top of the list would have to be Steven Morrissey, Vivienne Westwood, Clare Press and Yvon Chouinard.
And probably our nearest and dearest who believed in us when we decided to try and change the world [well, the fashion industry at least].
If you where a super hero what would your powers be?
The ability to magically turn old shit into new shit. Oh, wait; we already do that. But the power would be to make it easier rather than so challenging. Plus we’d be best friends with Captain Planet. As the world currently floats amongst pollution; we could really do with Captain Planet.
We each have our own individual taste in music, but when we put together our Ahimsa Collective playlist for our launch, we found it was the only playlist we each put on from that point forward. If you are interested in our kinda jams, it’s here - https://open.spotify.com/playlist/48N2iGURSDc7qtD25x2UZy?si=X9ihIDyVSEyilpdQOgym7Q There isn’t one song we’re all drawn to but we do all have a soft spot for Dean Lewis’ song ‘Waves’, which he kindly let us use on our launch video.
Favourite book growing up
Individually - our diaries. We all turned to ‘Dear Diary’ when times were good, tough, incredible and difficult. It’s both hilariously cringe-worthy but also proudly humbling to read back on who we were at a young age and how those words-to-paper formed who we are each today. It’s a tricky question to answer from a brand perspective, but if you were to ask us what our favourite book right now is, it’d have to be Clare Press’ latest book; Rise & Resist.