A Dress That Empowers Women: ORA Ethical Fashion
This ethical fashion label is something I've been meaning to share with you for a while now, so I'm glad to finally be putting this feature together.
I met the founder of ORA, Grace Dee Macauley, at the Ethical Christmas Night Market held in Melbourne last year, and I was so moved by her story.
Grace founded her label after completing a degree in International Development, and spending 4 months interning at Sambhali Trust in Northern India. She was inspired by the beauty and spirit of the women she met (most of whom came from the lowest caste), and she wanted to share their incredible talent for sewing and embroidery with the rest of the world. She also wanted to make a positive impact on the fashion industry, and so ORA Ethical Fashion was born.
Here's how ORA's transparent production cycle works:
Garments are designed in Melbourne with environmentally-aware and fashion-conscious women in mind.
The designs are then handcrafted at Sambhali Trust's Graduate Sewing Centre, which is a women's empowerment NGO in Jodhpur, India. The organisation fights against India's entrenched gender inequality, and provides women and children with an education and the means to become financially independent. The name Sambhali means the 'Rising of the Deprived Women'.
The material used to create the garments comes from another wonderful NGO in India called WomenWeave, which works to overcome the vulnerability of women in handloom weaving. The fabrics there are hand-spun, hand-woven and mostly dyed naturally with environmentally friendly processes.
The finished garments are then sent back to Melbourne, where they are sold online and at markets and boutiques across Melbourne, with 20% of their profits being returned to the women who made them.
The dress I got from Grace at the night market is made from hand-spun 100% organic cotton, using AZO free natural dye (made by the women of WomenWeave).
You can wear it as a loose fit, or also pin it in at the waist (as I've done here), which makes a gorgeous pattern where the fabric gathers.
It gives me so much joy and hope to discover brands like ORA, who work so passionately to create positive social change. Sometimes the world's negativities can seem a little overwhelming, but it's good to step back and remember that there's a whole lot of goodness out there too.
As one of my favourite quotes goes, "If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito".