East of Grey designer Kim Bailey

Revive Festival puts spotlight on sustainable fashion


The Revive Pop-up Second-hand Fashion Festival is over for another year, having achieved it goals of creating a pre-loved shopping nirvana for savvy fashionistas and raising awareness of the importance of sustainable fashion.

Stalls at the 2018 Revive Festival
Stalls at the Revive Festival gave fashionistas a thrifty opportunity to reduce Brisbane’s textile waste problem while getting a unique look. Photo: Peta McEachern

The event, which is hosted by the Brisbane City Council, in its third year and took place at South Bank’s Cultural Forecourt on Friday August 17.

The festival focussed on embracing individual style through unique fashion finds and committing to creating a more sustainable and environmentally aware fashion footprint.

The Revive festival also helps increase awareness to the growing issue of textile waste, which contributes 500,000 tons of waste to Australia’s landfill each year.

Festival visitors were treated to a variety of activities including workshops, exhibitions, runway shows, talks by guest speakers, live entertainment, vintage and second-hand clothing stalls from local designers, and curated stalls from local charity shops.

Councillor for Central Ward, Vicki Howard, said Brisbane was the most sustainable city in Australia, making it a fitting location for Revive to bring awareness to the reduction of waste, by encouraging people to buy second hand and support local businesses.

“More than 12,000 tonnes of textiles are unnecessarily sent to Brisbane landfill every year, with 6,000 kilograms of clothing dumped every 10 minutes,” Cr Howard said.

“The potential to transform old into new is endless, and Revive 2018 will showcase how our city’s talented designers are exploiting fashion to create high-end clothing at bargain prices,” she said.

The event included stalls from a number of leading charity stores including Vinnies, Lifeline, Save the Children, RSPCA Queensland, Link Vision, Endeavour Foundation, YMCA Brisbane, and Salvos Store.

A number of South East Queensland’s independent retailers who focus on sustainability, second hand and vintage clothing also attended the event, including East of Grey, Cassies Corner, Second Loves, Forgotten Modern, ELC Vintage Clothing & Accessories, Vintage Junkyard, Fetch Vintage, and Australian Tie Dye Collection.

The event also featured a sustainability speaker’s tent, which hosted a range of discussions throughout the day on topics including op shop tips and tricks, slow clothing, the circular economy, the importance of being sentimental about clothing, styling, and how to make your own repairs and alterations.

Sustainability consultant Jane Milburn was one of the speakers at the tent. She is also the founder of Textile Beat, which is a social enterprise built around the ethos of slow clothing: We are what we wear.

Jane Milburn author of Slow Clothing
Sustainability consultant Jane Milburn says choosing second-hand fashion can be a celebration of conscious and ethical living. Photo: Jane Milburn

Ms Milburn said she helped set the Revive Festival in motion after lobbying and addressing the Brisbane City Council in 2015 on the issue of fashion waste and the need for a sustainable clothing culture.

“I decided that somebody needed to speak up on [sustainable clothing culture], so I addressed the council chamber… and Revive was the action that came as a result of that,” she said.

Ms Milburn said part of sustainability culture was recognising the importance of clothing, that what we wear should be just as important as the food we put in our bodies.

The festival held runway fashion shows throughout the event to showcase styling tips and the wearability of second-hand clothing.

“There’s a lot of eco stylists on the scene now helping you do it differently, and also talks to inform you about what’s going on around the use of our clothing,” Ms Milburn said.

“It’s also a great way of being thrifty and developing your individual style,” she said.

“[Revive is] really a celebration of opportunity of being independent of fast fashion.”

While slow clothing, which focuses on people making conscious, meaningful and sustainable clothing choices, was one of the hot topics up for discussion at the Revive festival, fast fashion has been blamed for the high turn over of clothing ending up in landfill in recent years.

Another fan of the Revive Festival and opponent of fast fashion is former Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters.

Ms Waters said fast fashion generally referred to low quality clothing that has been produced quickly and cheaply based on trends, and sold at low cost, making it short term and “disposable”.

“The notion of using clothing as a disposable item is repulsive to me,” she said.

Speakers on stage at the 2018 Revive Festival
Participants at the Revive Festival’s Speakers’ Corner discussed tips and tricks to get the most out of op shopping. Photo: Peta McEachern

“The quickness and cheapness of the production means that environmental corners are cut, so it’s worse for the planet than normal clothes, which already have a bad environmental footprint,” Ms Waters said.

“There’s a huge water footprint, huge energy footprint, and a huge chemical footprint,” she said.

Ms Waters many younger people couldn’t afford to buy quality items, choosing instead to buy a lot of cheaper items and throwing them away sooner.

“We are living beyond our planetary limits, and you can only do that for so long before you’re stuck up the river, and the planet no longer supports our species,” she said.

“Which sounds a bit crazy, but it’s what we’re doing.”

Ms Waters said the increase in op shops and second-hand clothing stalls was a positive development against the fast fashion culture.

Some of the designers taking part in the Revive Festival were focused on repurposing clothes through upcycling and on mending clothes rather than throwing them away, as ways to limit the amount of textiles being thrown out each day.

Fashion designer Kim Bailey said actively participating in the clothes making process was not only rewarding, but also an extension and expression of the self.

East of Grey designer Kim Bailey
Kim Bailey’s ‘CIRCA’ collection includes altered pre-loved denim pieces, which help reduce the impact of textile waste. Photo: Peta McEachern

Ms Bailey has taken part in the festival since it started in 2016, selling one-of-a-kind eco-friendly garments from her lifestyle label, East of Grey, as well as a curated second-hand range.

This year she also ran a mending workshop at the festival, teaching the basics of sewing.

Ms Bailey said changing people’s perspective on the worth of items could make a big difference to the amount of textiles ending up in landfill.

“At the moment I’m cutting up old t-shirts and making crochet floor rugs out of them, thinking bigger about what it is you’re throwing away… it isn’t rubbish until you throw it away,” she said.

Bailey also provides independent workshops on sustainable fashion to high school students around Australia as part of their home economics classes.

“It’s good to go in and open their minds on how to be sustainable in their own life,” she said.

“This next generation is pivotal in changing the way we do things… they need to be thinking about things in a different way than what we have, and what our parents have,” Ms Bailey said.

Larissa Waters said Millennials grew up within a consumption culture, but said it was important to reflect and question whether the need to consume was making people feel happy or worse about themselves.

“Having good support networks and good strong social structures where we value human interaction rather than image and stuff will help us be a better world,” Ms Waters said.

Jane Milburn agreed that the fashion industry created problems by making people feel the need to fit a certain image.

She said fast fashion marketing preyed on a lack of security and confidence in individual styling, creating the desire to look a certain way and be on trend in an ever-changing market.

“We need to move away this idea of judgment and needing to have a different outfit on every Instagram post, and find meaning in what we wear,” Ms Milburn said.

Kim Bailey said above all fashion should be fun.

“Have fun and go op shopping, fashion is fun, fashion is art, and I think that we have forgotten that,” Ms Bailey said.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold and wear a slogan tee that says: ‘What about the people that make my clothes?’ Ms Bailey said.

“Whatever it might be, don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe is right.”

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