Sustainable shopper
Fashion

New Australian-born fashion brand talks sustainability – from deadstock materials to mindful shopping

Each week on the Sustainable Shopper, Stylist talks to the people focused on creating a more conscious shopping space for all. This time, Lesleigh Jermanus – creative director of Australian eco-friendly fashion brand – talks to fashion editor Harriet Davey about saving deadstock fabrics and making them into incredible new pieces. 

Hands up who wants to discover a new brand that screams summer from every angle? Australian-born label Alémais launched earlier this year, in March, as an answer to clothing supplier cancellations sparked by the pandemic. Founder and creative director Lesleigh Jermanus recognised the amount of materials destined for landfill and jumped in with a solution. Since then, Alémais was born to focus on using deadstock materials to create amazing, intricate new pieces that can be loved for a lifetime. 

With an interest in sustainability within the fashion industry, the foundation of the brand has always been to create pieces with a difference. Now, the ready-to-wear label has been snapped up by the likes of Browns, Matches, Harrods and Selfridges in the UK. 

The small brand is making waves within the designer market, and rightly so when the pieces will make you want to book a staycation, pronto. From floaty smock dresses, to puff-sleeved seashell-print billowy blouses, for each item sold, a tree is planted. Alémais also offsets the carbon footprint for staff members and each item will also arrive in fully recycled and biodegradable packaging.

Lesleigh is here to tell the Sustainable Shopper how her journey began and why education is the key to shopping mindfully. 

Lesleigh at Alemais
Creative director of Alémais: Lesleigh Jermanus

What is your earliest memory of sustainability?

Lesleigh: It was back in 2005 when I was in my 2nd year at university. At that time, no one was really talking about sustainability, which seemed like an obscure concept. Ignorance felt like bliss in relation to environmentally conscious clothing and it felt like the right time to start researching an industry I was planning my future in. My university partner and I had a similar passion for this area and spent the year writing our thesis on ‘if you are what you eat, you are what you wear’.

More recently on a trip to Kenya, I saw excessive truckloads of deadstock and abandoned clothing from America and Europe on the sides of the roads. I listened to a podcast recently called The Cutting Room Floor and I believe there is a ban on deadstock being sent to some African countries as they can’t handle the volume. I recognise the inherent contradiction between the fashion industry – which requires newness and consumption – and the concept of sustainability. The complex problem of sustainability has caused many of my peers to walk away from the industry.

Alémais Under The Sea shirt
Alémais Under The Sea shirt

Is there such a thing as truly sustainable fashion?   

I don’t think it’s sustainable to stop production of clothing altogether, which would be the most sustainable outcome for our planet. However, I believe with education around considered and thoughtful clothing production that focuses on people and the planet we can make positive change with truly sustainable fashion solutions.

Our aim with Alémais was to create a brand with purpose and integrity, which reduces environmental impact and treats its suppliers with honesty and respect.

Alémais Osiris dress
Alémais Osiris dress

Investment pieces vs throw away fashion: how do you get customers to care?   

Education is the greatest tool in helping people make informed decisions about the clothing they buy. We want to connect the customer to the provenance of their garment and to understand that there is nothing simple about making a dress.

The number of hands a single garment passes through from pencil sketch to pattern maker, to cutter and maker, the presser and packer, the logistics team and eventually to the customer is a long arduous process. We want to take our customer on that journey to create a connection through the whole process. 

Who is your favourite sustainability influencer? And why?

Clare Press is a master in sustainable fashion and helps to simplify a complex conversation for absolutely everyone, offering practical solutions to sustainable shopping, care for clothing and highlighting the big issues. I love how Clare uses her poetic writing skills and voice to educate but also keeps it fun.

Alémais Atlantis dress
Alémais Atlantis dress

What changes would you like to see happen in the fashion industry?

More education and funding on regenerative farming and its positive impact for our environment and end use, also for the fashion calendar to slow down. It would be great to see everyone striving for transparency and sustainable practises and celebrate more artisanal techniques and natural fibres.

Three sustainable shopping methods

1. Look to see if a brand shows active support towards treating people and the planet with respect.

1. Try to buy natural fibre clothing and organic where possible.

3. Buy more vintage clothing.

      Sustainable Shopper edit by Lesleigh:

      Images: courtesy of Alémais, Lesleigh and brands featured

      Topics

      Share this article

      Recommended by Harriet Davey

      Fashion

      “To me, sustainable fashion is about protecting our future and being committed to change”

      The Sustainable Shopper talks to founder of new eco-friendly clothing label and Instagram favourite, Aligne.

      Posted by
      Harriet Davey
      Published
      Fashion

      Her Style Secrets: “Sustainability needs to be seen not just as ‘cool’ but as a permanent change”

      The Sustainable Shopper talks to co-founders of fashion and lifestyle podcast, Her Style Secrets.

      Posted by
      Harriet Davey
      Published
      Fashion

      “Consume less and support businesses that have good intentions”

      The Sustainable Shopper talks to founder of sustainable clothing label, Mother of Pearl about the latest collaboration with John Lewis x Partners.

      Posted by
      Harriet Davey
      Published
      Fashion

      “To act truly sustainably is incredibly challenging in an industry driven by newness”

      The Sustainable Shopper talks to co-founders of jewellery brand, Otiumberg.

      Posted by
      Harriet Davey
      Published
      Fashion

      “We only have one planet, we must take responsibility to be more sustainable, now more than ever”

      The Sustainable Shopper talks to founder of new womenswear label, Yasmina Q.

      Posted by
      Harriet Davey
      Published