30 March – 30 April, 2021
By appointment only:
The Responsible Fashion Agency represents a unique edit of international designers who share its appreciation for timeless designs and commitment to fair working conditions and sustainable practice.
As a full-service boutique agency, we bring these brands into the Australian and New Zealand market with a tailored approach that mirrors their level of thought and integrity. We manage sales and marketing in a way that is personal, intentional and inventive. We do not work in the fast, trend-based manner that fashion is synonymous with: we value the slow and artisanal work of the brands we work with and prioritise representing them in a way that mirrors their considered process. Through meaningful relationships with boutique retailers and collaborations with like-minded creatives, we are able to share relevant stories about the brands we represent.
We hand select brands that share our value for high standards both ethically and aesthetically. They are transparent, and innovative in their approach to design and sustainability. They value the people behind-the-scenes and working with organic or upcycled materials – yet they remain uncompromising in their design sensibility and craftsmanship.
Our vision is to change the culture around buying and selling. We want to break down the preexisting model and be on the front foot like our designers. To us, this shift towards ethical and sustainable fashion does not only lie with the designers, but also with the agents, the retailers, the storytellers, the consumers. As well as delivering a tailored sales and marketing approach where longevity is front of mind, we are looking to work with our brands and retailers to further extend the life cycle of every garment through a renewables initiative with a circular approach.
The Responsible Fashion Agency is based in Sydney, Australia, and founded and led by Suzana Tas. As an immigrant with a diverse upbringing, Suzana developed an appreciation for the longevity of an item of clothing from early childhood, as well as a curiosity for alternative cultural narratives across eras and the globe. She has since garnered fifteen years experience in brand management and buying where she developed an affinity for timeless essentials while working in denim and an appreciation for quality through her work in luxury fashion. She launched the Responsible Fashion Agency to bring all of these worlds into one.
Website designed by Oak Park Studio.
We introduce our brands to boutique retailers and buyers across Australia and New Zealand who share our appreciation for timeless wardrobe essentials and sustainability. We are sensitive to the unique needs of the labels we represent and will craft a tailored strategy for each. We seek out retailers who can support our sustainable sales vision through a loyal and engaged community and an appreciation for a seasonless approach. We value growing with our brands and retailers to develop long-term bespoke partnerships. For us, sales is not merely about numbers but also about telling stories, sharing information that is transparent and educational, and developing new processes that value the safety of our community and health of our environment.
The thoughtfulness that is embedded in the brands we represent is something we seek to mirror through the way we share their vision. Our nuanced approach enables us to develop and deliver tailored marketing and PR strategies. We value authentic storytelling that cuts through the noise and seek opportunities to collaborate with respected creatives to share these stories. This approach resonates with like-minded cultural media allowing us to develop meaningful press relationships and custom content. This sensitive, personalised way of working extends to our retailers. These relationships are not merely transactional but have integrity and depth that leads to bespoke activations and editorially-led opportunities.
In an industry where fashion wholesalers are notorious for perpetuating discount culture, we are looking to challenge the pre-existing role of a fashion agency, much like the way our designers are challenging the status quo in their field. We are passionate about finding solutions to help divert products away from landfill and reduce waste. We believe we have a responsibility to extend our role beyond the point where a garment reaches a retailer. With this, we are looking to work with brands and retailers to create customised solutions to maximise a garment’s life cycle, fabrication and materials through renewables. This will be a tailored service that aims to change the way we perceive aged or unwanted stock in our industry.
Gourmet Traveller, Eternally Chic : Invest in Classic Wardrobe Essentials, 28.04.21
Broadsheet, Broadsheet Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2021, 28.04.21
GQ, Best New Men’s Fragrances for Autumn 2021, 21.04.21
Russh, Rounds Up Our Best Mother’s Day Gift Ideas, 15.04. 21
Russh, 30+ Sustainable Fashion Brands to Have on Your Radar, 22.02.21
Caes World, Women We Admire: Kitty Callaghan, 2020
Caes World, Women We Admire: Stanislava Pinchuk, 2020
Russh, Sustainable Dutch label, ‘CAES’, is the new brand you should be adding to your watchlist, 04.11.20
Dutch fashion brand CAES epitomises slow fashion with its line of luxury basics. We were instantly drawn to their series of classic essentials which form the foundation for a simplified and timeless wardrobe. Each garment forms part of an edition instead of a collection, challenging the idea that fashion needs to be either fast or seasonal. Items are produced locally at a family-run manufacturer in Portugal who CAES have worked closely with to establish fair working conditions and environment. Each garment is made from high quality, ethically sourced materials to ensure the smallest carbon footprint and highest standards of current certification.
ST. ROSE is a modern luxury perfume brand born in Australia and based in New York. Their gender-neutral fragrances are handcrafted with the highest-quality ingredients, which are ethically harvested, organic when possible, and sourced with traceability from their native region for the purest quality and minimal environmental stress. For example, their signature note, Australian Sandalwood, is proudly sourced from a farm recognised by the UN for its work with the local Indigenous community and their land. This sensitivity to the environment and commitment to working with their community extends to every facet of their business: they prioritise eco-friendly and responsibly sourced packaging materials and are a 1% for the Planet business who work with conservation partner WildArk to store CO2 in the most effective way, provide habitats for threatened species and benefit local communities.
John Patrick founded Organic in 2004 as a turn away from the fast fashion movement believing that apparel could be both beautiful and ethical, green and global—not one or the other. He was one of the first designers to develop a direct relationship with organic farm collectives in Peru as he helped to innovate the use of botanical dyes, digital print techniques, recycled fabrics and organic wool yarns. He pushed for best practices abroad, serving the fashion community as a whole by working with his vendors to create next-generation sustainable textiles while making sure his factories adopted more environmentally sound manufacturing methods. The label epitomises the ‘less is more’ notion with an emphasis on essentials – modern staples that stand the test of time both stylistically and through their durability.
In 2016, John Patrick gifted the world another pioneering project: Communitie. Founded in Marfa, Texas, the offering promotes sustainable projects alongside social and artistic growth through a tightly-edited collection of timeless hats and scarves that are artisanally handmade from craftsmen all over the world using the same standard of organic materials John Patrick has become renowned for.
Helen de Kluiver, the visionary founder of CAES, speaks to us about fashion memories, leather corsets and why one must stay true to themselves.
Suzana Tas: Can you remember your earliest memory of fashion? Helen de Kluiver: When I was a little girl, I used my brother as a mannequin. On weekends I made clothes from crepe paper and he had to try it on or he had to stand really still so I could drape the paper around his body. He was so sweet; he didn’t care. Later, when I started working, I saved for designer clothes or shoes. I still have one favourite pair of Alaia heels that I bought when I was seventeen. But I still wear them. I was already so obsessed by craftsmanship at a young age.
ST: You work with some of the most sustainable approaches to design products for CAES. Is there a technique that you’re particularly drawn to? HK: I think designing in 3D is very interesting. I work closely with a patternmaker, Mathilde, and she makes her patterns in 3D, which is fascinating. The product looks almost real and you can even see the drape of the fabric. In this way you reduce the making of many samples and you therefore use less fabric or yarn.
ST: Do you have a favourite piece from the CAES collection? Do you remember what was happening around the time you designed it? What you were feeling or thinking? Where do you think it came from? HK: Definitely the leather corset top. I always like to combine opposites with each other – like oversized with slim and bold with straight. I like that the leather top has lines and curves, but the material is tough. And I think I was super happy during that time because I had found a nice alternative to leather, VEGEA, which is characterised by a high content of vegetal, recycled raw materials. And it even looks like real leather. It gives the collection just a little bit more by adding this material.
ST: What does responsible fashion mean to you and how can we continue moving towards it? HK: For me, it means the future. I think we need to re-think what we really need as a consumer. And for brands, it would be good to take a good look at their process and make conscious small changes to do better. For us, it’s also still a learning path, but we are really trying to do better and to improve each collection. I think if you are aware and willing to change, then that is what matters.
ST: What thoughts are circulating for you as you continue to grow CAES and develop the brand’s vision HK: That I have to continuously focus on what we want to tell and what we think is important and who fits with the brand. I think it’s very important to stay close to the core; sometimes it’s a challenge, but if you stay close to who you are then it stays real and credible. I believe nowadays a brand is much more than just clothing: it’s also a way of living, a story. So keep it close to yourself – that is my main thought at the moment.
Belinda Smith, the woman behind ST. ROSE, shares her creative process, thoughts on healing and her most nostalgic fragrance.
Suzana Tas: They say that a sense of smell is closely linked with memory. Is this true for you? Belinda Smith: Scent and memory are so closely entwined and this is because of the brain’s anatomy. Smells take a direct route to the limbic system, including the amygdala and the hippocampus – the regions related to emotion and memory. It’s because these olfactory signals get to the limbic system so quickly that fragrance is truly like armchair travel. So when you smell a bouquet of flowers, fresh cut grass or a passer-by’s perfume, suddenly you are swept back to forgotten memories almost instantaneously.
ST: What does the process of coming up with a fragrance look like for you? BS: Each of our fragrances start from something I am inspired by and also something I am craving to wear personally. The concepts and creation process varies but always starts from a personal experience – travel, art, being in nature. ST. ROSE partners with one of the best fragrance houses in the world, so we truly have the most incredible perfumers behind our collection.
I’ve always been highly visual, so prior to presenting a creative brief for a new project, I love working through mood boarding with images, colours and textures that shape the idea of this scent I have in my mind. I also love to work with music by creating a playlist to help articulate the mood and energy of the composition’s essence. It’s always a really collaborative process – sharing inspiration and allowing the masters to compose the notes that will ultimately become the final fragrance. As a clean brand, with sustainability and transparency at the heart of the creation process, there is always a big discussion around ingredients – where they are sourced and ensuring that they are gentle to both people and planet.
In the end, the true journey begins when someone falls in love with a fragrance from our collection and forms their own connection to it. That is truly the most rewarding part of this experience.
ST: How do you think forming a closer relationship with Mother Earth and her medicine helps us to reconnect with our inner power? BS: I feel most at peace in nature. Whether that is swimming in the ocean or walking through a forest. But nature as medicine is far from a novel idea. The sensorial artform of perfumery dates back all the way to the Ancient Egyptians, where their uses extended beyond cosmetic indulgence and into the mystical and spiritual realms. From rose to frankincense to sandalwood, the Earth’s elements have been used across cultures in medical, ceremonial and spiritual uses for millennia. The Latin meaning of the word ‘perfuma’ means ‘by smoke’ and was originally applied to the burning of incense, sacred herbs, resins or wood. In fact, for over 40,000 years, the First People of Australia have used sandalwood – burning the aromatic wood in sacred rituals as a way to protect mind, body and soul.
We include sandalwood exclusively from our sandalwood provider in Western Australia, which is fifty per cent Indigenous owned, in each of our fragrances as a way to distil this beautiful philosophy into one’s daily ritual. A simple but powerful way to connect self with nature.
ST: What advice would you give to someone trying to navigate their own path to healing? BS: Be gentle with yourself. Being mindful about what you are nourishing your mind, body and soul with. In today’s hectic and fast-paced world, where we often find ourselves exhausted from too little sleep, too much stress and far too much screen time, finding daily rituals to ground and recenter us brings an immediate boost – even simple ones like going on a morning walk, cooking a healthy meal, taking a bath or spiritizing on a fragrance to uplift your mood.
ST: I love how a scent can transport us to other places and times. Is there space you find yourself returning to through a fragrance? BS: Circa 91 is probably the most nostalgic in the collection. 1991 was the year when my family and I moved from a property near the quiet town of Warren, located on the Macquarie River in New South Wales, to the United States. From my early years roaming the wide-open playground right outside my backdoor – which cultivated my love for nature – to the culture shock of stepping off a plane in a strange new world, I knew I had to have a nineties throwback in the collection. The nineties, in all their rebellious glory, were the origin of unisex fragrances. Our Circa 91 is an ode to that decade – with a fresh citrus accord that then takes an ozonic dive into a mysterious woods base.
Organic by John Patrick<<
In the lead up to showing his Spring/Summer 2022—filled with slips, cashmere stoles and gentle pops of colour—we wanted to find out where John Patrick finds his energy and inspiration…
Suzana Tas: Your work is a constant inspiration for many of us in fashion. Who inspires you creatively? John Patrick: George Nakashima and Cindy Sherman.
ST: Do you have a philosophy that you live by? JP: I live according to the spaces I occupy and make clothing for people to wear.
ST: What is an important lesson you have learned during your journey? JP: The only important thing is the work. One needs to work extremely hard to improve. Working really hard is the only way to get better.
ST: The fashion world is coming to realise that operating a truly sustainable business goes far beyond raw materials: it’s also embracing diverse perspectives. What are your thoughts? JP: The fashion industry is finally coming to the realisation that it has to take care of the Earth and treat people with respect.
ST: Is there anything you are reading, watching and listening to that you would like to share? JP: Nina Simone at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1960.