blaek store

We started our retailer series ‘who sells your clothes’ back in April to coincide with Fashion Revolution.
 
We loved hearing the insight from the stores that stock our labels. Retailers are a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to the ethical fashion revolution and really offer a great pathway to teach consumers about more sustainable ways to shop. 
 
We decided to continue our series throughout the year.
 
To kick of June we had a chat with Nikki Batrouney of Blaek Store.
Pronounced ‘Black’, Blaek store is based in Manly on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Run by Nikki and her partner Tom, Blaek is a thoughtful retail space offering only sustainable, ethical & organic clothing as well as homewares & objects by mindful designers from around the world. 
 
www.blaekstore.com
Instagram: @blaek.store
 

There is a new future in fashion happening right now where there is much more of an understanding and appreciation for the slow fashion movement. Not only this but consumers are asking brands to be more transparent.

How important is it to your store that the brands you stock are transparent about their supply chains and manufacturing processes?

We’ve never used the word ‘important’ when referring to the brands we work with. As ethically minded individuals it’s expected that brands should be and are ethically and environmentally conscious. Ethical is the new normal. Calling a transparent production process important means it is out of the ordinary or needs to be drawn attention to and we want all fashion to be sustainable, ethical and organic at a base level. Yes we want to promote sustainability but not as something unique, niche or as an added bonus.

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the negative impact fashion is having on the world and are beginning to ask more questions about their purchase before they buy it, so for us, having all the information at our disposal is vital. Being transparent means you have nothing to hide and that’s how it should be in business, life and everything really!

Do you have a checklist of values you look for when you are thinking of stocking new labels? If so what are some of the most important values you look for?

We will talk to anyone making an effort in the sustainable space, we are passionate about fashion and the environment coming together and want to try and give everyone a chance. The product may not end up being right for our customer but we feel so lucky to be able to sit down and have these conversations with those that are just as passionate as us about the slow fashion movement.

Even if a product is not yet sustainable sitting down and speaking to the maker about where they are heading is often the best process for us rather than having a list of criteria. We try to back as many brands, big or small, who we think are doing the right thing and doing a beautiful job of it!

Do you find your customers are mostly those who are searching for ethical options?

Annoying answer, but Yes and No! Some people will only buy a sustainable product, which is great, and they know they can get that from BLAEK Store. Others don’t know much about sustainability in fashion and some people don’t care.

We love our customers who are new to the slow fashion movement, we find when chatting to them they are both empowered and changed after spending time in our store and a lot of the reason for opening BLAEK was to help spread the word through the stories behind our brands, encourage more people to live sustainably and think before they buy.

Are customers in store who are also consumers of fast fashion interested in learning more to change their buying habits?

Definitely! As we slowly pass on our knowledge about the benefits of organic fabrics, the rise in transparent supply chains and ethical manufacturing we find those customers who are also consumers of fast fashion begin to care more and are willing to change their buying habits. We see them return with friends, walking through the doors and passing on the knowledge “everything in this shop is organic, sustainable and ethical’. You’d be amazed at how often this happens and for us it’s a small win.

To know that we’ve had an impact on someone, potentially changed their views on their buying habits and now they are encouraging someone else to do the same, it’s a great little domino effect!

What do you think can be done to educate more people about thinking twice about how they consume fashion?

The problem is huge and stems from our world leaders being ignorant towards climate change because of financial reasons. World leaders still value money higher than life and right now we can see the pressure from the public affecting them, which is exactly what we want as people on earth. It’s not about hugging a tree or chaining your self to a bulldozer anymore, it’s about putting in hours of work, being strategic and working hard to be an inspiration to others. Putting the truth out there for all to see and then working collectively to make that change.

This is what we strive to do at BLAEK Store. We’re working day and night to influence others in a positive way. Not to sell them a bunch of stuff they don’t need but to inspire them and show them that there are brands out there doing good for the planet. Let’s listen to them, support them and come together to make the world a better place. 

How do you feel about locally made vs offshore?

A lot of people think that if something is made offshore it’s automatically made in a sweatshop. This isn’t the case. There are people being paid unfair wages even in Australia, especially in the fashion industry. So for us, as long as it can be proven that those who made the item are being paid a fair wage and being looked after then we are happy. You can get amazing quality garments from all over the world. We do tend to favour locally made, this stems from wanting to support small businesses and have a stronger more personal relationship with our brands.

Why do you think we need a fashion revolution?

The impact fashion (in particular fast fashion) has on the planet is so huge and so avoidable, watch The True Cost and you’ll forever be asking how your clothing was made and who/what was affected in the process. With the world's leaders refusing to act on slowing global warming how long will it be until Governments make changes to the fashion industry? A revolution starts from the smallest person, works it's way up and makes so much noise that the biggest person hears and has no choice but to act. We need an environmental revolution if we are to survive on earth and if we want to continue to wear clothing, which most people do then we need a revolution or more to the point we need to step up our efforts and everyone has a part to play.

What is your hope for the future of fashion?

That it continues to be a source of inspiration, creativity and self-expression. That it continues to create jobs for hard-working, talented people and enrich their lives and the end customers' We want fashion to be exactly what it is now and exactly why we love it but we want it to NOT impact negatively on environment or people. Fashion is positive for so many reasons but it needs to be positive for ALL reasons.

What brands are you loving at the moment? And Why?

There are too many to name! To name a few we are loving New Zealand label KOWTOW, Swedish label Nudie Jeans Co., Local Sydney swimwear label SAUCEswim and (without any pressure we promise) we are loving Melbourne label Lois Hazel. We see Kowtow and Nudie Jeans Co. as the benchmark to compare all other ethical labels to and there is so much to be learnt from them. SAUCEswim is a perfect example of a young, exciting, local label trying so hard to do everything right without compromise and Lois Hazel is just about to hit BLAEK Store and we love it. Lois Hazel has been a leader in the ethical scene in Australia and the amount of effort the brand goes to, to be transparent is incredible.

 Is made local important to you and why?

Made local is important as it obviously cuts down on carbon use, supports the Australian fashion industry which is incredible and allows us to often work face to face with designers which we love. We're so excited to be stocking Lois Hazel soon, which is our most recent, local addition at BLAEK Store. She has been on our radar for a while and is doing fashion both right and beautifully. We can't wait to have her product in store to share with our customers.

Thanks so much for being a part of our series!

Thanks for the opportunity to have a chat about a topic we are so passionate about at BLAEK Store.

fashion revolution traditionally runs from the 22nd-28th april. Lets keep the revolution going. follow. get involved. the more people who ask #whomademyclothes, the more brands will listen.

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