15.05.18

How Spell & The Gypsy Collective Are Driving Change So Sustainable Fashion is The New ‘Normal’

Jessica Elise

Imagine you walk into the boutique of your dreams.

Clothing racks elegantly display the most ethereal garments, beautifully printed and embellished with bespoke trims of embroidery and beads.

The butter-soft fabrics dance through your fingers, enticing you to slip them on and live your best life.

Each garment has been designed with love, care and a determined dedication to positively impact both people and planet through their production.

Spell & the Gypsy Collective

"Rather than strive for sustainability to be our point of difference, we hope to drive change within the textile industry so that a new ‘normal’ is achieved universally."

You heed to the call of the most divine dress, and on closer inspection, discover that you can follow the journey of your new favourite garment from seed to seam.

Each design detail is documented with the utmost transparency, guaranteeing that the new addition to your wardrobe has been woven from rainforest-free fibres before being printed and dyed in the most environmentally sustainable way.

The embellishments have been lovingly hand created by a team of artisans who work in internationally accredited workplaces, and the garment has been designed in a way to foster a more circular fashion model.

Spell & the Gypsy Collective

Slipping the dress on and strutting your way over to show your bestie your fave new look, you stumble across a decadently detailed craft corner. A DIY calico bag tutorial is underway, with a class on how to vegetable dye garments up next. As you reluctantly depart the boutique, you are invited to the premiere of a documentary on ocean conservation, which will be screened in the courtyard space tonight.

Buoyed by such a positive and beautiful experience, you leave with fresh determination to walk a little lighter on this earth.

Spell & the Gypsy Collective
Spell & the Gypsy Collective

Meet Spell & The Gypsy Collective. A Byron Bay-based label which has garnered a global cult following of bohemian dreamers and high-fashion style mavens alike. Whilst best known for their colourful, intricately detailed collections, they are quickly becoming well known as industry leaders in ethical and sustainably made fashion.

FROM LITTLE THINGS BIG THINGS GROW

The Utopian boutique described above may be a few years’ in the making, however it is a true reflection of the Spell vision, which has been detailed in their 2025 sustainability commitment.

Spell & the Gypsy Collective

Spell founders, Spelly and Lizzy, alongside their team of Spell Angels and wider global family, have been working tirelessly behind the seams to ensure that they stay true to achieving their commitments.

Spell & the Gypsy Collective

Spell has always cultivated a tight – knit relationship with their employees, including those who own and work in the garment factories dotted around the globe.

The emphasis and importance placed on these relationships with the Spell partner factories has ensured that their garments have always been unofficially produced in working conditions where international standards of conduct are not only adhered to, but surpassed.

Spell & the Gypsy Collective

In 2016, Lizzy received an email from a customer asking #WhoMadeMyClothes as part of Fashion Revolution week. This email was the catalyst for their decision to gain independent ethical accreditation of all their partner factories. All Spell factories have now been accredited by internationally recognised programs such as FairTrade, WRAP, SEDEX and BSCI.

However, Lizzy maintains that ethical accreditation of their garment factories is only just the beginning.

‘Ultimately, we want to know the cotton farms, fabric mills and fabric printers are also ethically accredited…’

FROM SEED TO SEAM

Spell have committed to gaining accreditation of their suppliers’ suppliers, to ensure that their garments are ethical, environmentally sustainable and completely traceable right back to their roots.

This commitment, in an era fraught with huge complexities within the global supply chain, is no easy feat. Undeterred, Lizzy and the team face these hurdles with a steely resolve and candid honesty about where they are right now,

‘We know we’re on a journey, and by no stretch of the imagination are we perfect, or necessarily a sustainable brand…’

However, moves such as transitioning their t-shirts to all organic cotton, working closely with their creative team to design in a more circular way and partnering with industry leaders in sustainable fashion mean that their journey is well underway.

‘We know we’re on a journey, and by no stretch of the imagination are we perfect, or necessarily a sustainable brand…’

GROWTH UNDER THE CANOPY

Recently, Spell joined forces with the Canopy Style Agreement in a bid to ensure that the ‘forest fibres’ used in their collections (think rayon and viscose) are produced without causing destruction and deforestation to some of the worlds most endangered landscapes. These fibres have formed the backbone of Spell collections, due to their soft drape and relative durability. However due to the limited number of global suppliers of rayon pulp, it has previously proven virtually impossible to trace the pulp back to the source, making supply chain transparency as clear as mud.

Spell & the Gypsy Collective

Partnering with Canopy allows Spell to navigate their way through this notoriously complex global supply chain and enables access to rainforest-free wood pulp fibres. Adding sustainably sourced, ethically produced rayon fibres to the line up of ecologically friendly and biodegradable fabrics already utilised in Spell production is the brands goal, and something that will remain a primary focus for the design team over the next two years. With a totally traceable, closed loop rayon in the very first stages of development, it’s a case of technology catching up with the designers’ enthusiasm.

Spell & the Gypsy Collective

WALK A LITTLE LIGHTER

With fashion detritus being a well known contributor to our global landfill crisis, the Spell team have been working with the GFA (Global Fashion Initiative) to transition from a linear fashion model into something more circular.

The design team now question every facet of their garment production, utilising fabric made from post consumer plastic waste in their swimwear collections and strive to design as much as possible within the parameters of a closed loop system. The costs of these environmentally positive changes have been predominantly absorbed by the business, however Lizzy clearly spells out that

‘it’s not just a matter of taking a hit on your profits and then boom, you’re doing good.’

Their aim is to further minimise Spell contributing to landfill through reacting to their loyal followers lead. These loyal followers, affectionately dubbed the ‘Spell army’ are the drivers of consumer driven initiatives, such as #VintageSpell, and the re-sale of second hand Spell designs through apps and social media channels.

These initiatives have gained momentum through the full support of the Spell marketing team. Rather than seeing these re-sale groups and platforms as a threat, they are seen as testament of the covetable timelessness of Spell designs’ and a celebration of their environmentally aware audience.

Spell & the Gypsy Collective

A NEW ECOSYSTEM

Spell refuses to market themselves as a sustainable business, instead they wish to open up the narrative about the steps they are taking toward a more sustainable future,

‘People assume that if you’re entering the conversation around sustainability in fashion, that it means you’ve managed to achieve it. But, we’re having the conversation whilst still being completely imperfect…’

All positive changes achieved to date are simply cited as their new standard code of conduct, which they will continuously refine as they overcome hurdles on their path to achieving their 2025 commitment to sustainability.

With such an honest and inclusive take on the trials and tribulations of creating real positive change, who wouldn’t want to join the Spell army and be an ambassador for a more sustainable future?

Factory images courtesy of Spell

All other Images by David Simpson

Jessica Elise

Jess is a full time mama & freelance writer with a penchant for capsule wardrobes, social responsibility & environmental sustainability. She is a firm believer in the power of a swim in the ocean, a strong coffee & the medicinal properties of a glass of wine.