What is Slow Fabric?
When I first started Melco Fabrics in March 2021, we were importing fabrics from overseas (China). However, the more I researched into the industry, the more I wanted to ensure we were supporting ethical and sustainable manufacturing processes.
In the textiles industry, we so often see buzz words like "ethical" and "sustainable" manufacturing thrown around. I understand it can be really difficult to know if it really is ethical and sustainable fabric.
So today I wanted to give you some information that I have learned since starting Melco Fabrics. I hope this information will help you make more conscious decisions when it comes to sourcing fabrics for your slow fashion adventure.
What is Slow Fabric?
To me, slow fabrics are produced in small quantities, in order to avoid over production and textiles waste. Further to this, being able to trace, understand the conditions the fabric was manufactured under such an environmental and humanitarian.
For me, visiting the textiles mill in Australia and working with them face to face is an experience that cannot be replaced.
Slow fabrics have a transparent manufacturing process that is verified with an independent body(s) in order to ensure the fabric origin is as stated, and the conditions it was manufactured under are ethical. I will go into this more below.
What is Fast Fabric?
Fast fabric, in my opinion, is fabric that is produced in mass quantities, very similar to fast fashion. Fast fabric is also hard to obtain information about and trace the different stages of the supply chain.
When importing fabric from overseas, often importers of fabric are dealing with "fabric traders", not the fabric mill itself. Information about the manufacturing process and human rights is difficult to obtain.
Now, I am not saying all imported fabric is unethical, or "bad". But now armed with the knowledge I have, I would be asking more questions surrounding this.
If a company believes in human rights and ethical manufacturing, and wants to advertise as such, I believe it is their obligation to ensure that the manufacturing process is audited from start to finish by an independent body.
Independent Verification - International
Social Accountability International (SAI)
Social Accountability International (SAI) is a global non-governmental organisation advancing human rights at work.
"The SA8000 Standard is the world’s leading social certification program. The SA8000 Standard and Certification System provide a framework for organizations of all types, in any industry, and in any country to conduct business in a way that is fair and decent for workers and to demonstrate their adherence to the highest social standards." [ SA8000® Standard - SAI (sa-intl.org) ]
Businesses that are passionate about sustainability and human rights can have their manufacturing process audited to ensure they are meeting the standards for a fair and safe workplace.
Fair Trade Max Havelaar
Other labels to look for include Fair Trade Max Havelaar. Through fair trade, it contributes to improving the living and working conditions of small farmers and agricultural workers in disadvantaged regions. The Max Havelaar Foundation is a member of the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) and complies with their international Fairtrade standards.
Global Organic Textile Standard - GOTS
GOTS, or the Global Organic Textile Standard, is a certification standard for organic textiles, including both ecological and social criteria. It is recognized as the leading standard for the processing of organic fibers, and covers the entire textile supply chain from production to labeling.
In order to be certified under GOTS, a company must meet a set of strict requirements related to the use of organic fibers, environmental management, and social responsibility. These requirements are verified through independent third-party certification. GOTS-certified textiles are widely recognized as a reliable and trustworthy source of organic fibers, and the certification is widely recognized in the industry as a mark of quality and sustainability.
Independent Verification - Australia
In Australia, there is an accreditation body called Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA).
"Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) is an accreditation body. We work collaboratively with local textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) businesses to protect and uphold the rights of Australian garment workers. To be ECA accredited, a business’s manufacturing operations are audited from design to dispatch to ensure that local TCF workers, including outworkers, are being paid appropriately, receiving all their legal entitlements and working in safe conditions. By supporting an ECA accredited business you are helping to strengthen the Australian TCF industry and you’re valuing the rights of our local garment workers."
Melco Fabrics is active in our registration process at the moment with ECA and completing our final audits. We practice what we preach and want customers to feel confident they are supporting ethical manufacturing of textile products. Furthermore, we (at Melco Fabrics) want to ensure we are supporting ethical manufacturing for our own peace of mind as well.
Australian Made Registration
Items that are 'Australian Made' can be registered with the Australian Made Campaign. In order to do this, the manufacturing process must be analyzed to ensure the product is manufactured in Australia beyond 'decoration'.
For example, a fabric that is imported from overseas, and then has an artwork printed on it in Australia cannot be registered as Australian Made. Reason being, it has not had any transformation. It was fabric when imported, and is still fabric after printing the design.
Melco Fabrics is a licensee of the Australian Made Campaign. and have had our Australian made products registered with them.
"The famous Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) logo is the true mark of Aussie authenticity. It's Australia's most trusted, recognised and widely used country of origin symbol, and is underpinned by a third-party accreditation system, which ensures products that carry the logo are certified as 'genuinely Australian'." - AMCL
I believe supporting the textiles industry in Australia is so important, as with many things, without support from the sewing community one day it would cease to exist.
If you want to check if a product is Australia Made, there is a search function on the AMCL website in which you can search for products, or search for company names. Click here to see. Registering with AMCL is not an expensive process and worthwhile for any company that is investing in Australian manufacturing.
Questions to ask before purchase
If I were a consumer and looking to invest in ethical and sustainable textiles, I would be seeking the following information first (which would hopefully be available on the company's website):
- Ethical Manufacturing:
- How are you supporting ethical manufacturing?
- Has your supply chain been audited by an independent body?
- How closely do you work with the fabric mill, are you able to visit it and see the working conditions?
- Origin of products: what portion of your manufacturing is done off-shore versus on-shore?
Slow Fashion and Fast Fabrics
Many of us took up sewing for different reasons, whether that be a hobby, a business, a stand against fast fashion, reducing textiles waste or expressing one's own individual flare... Regardless of the reason, I am sure we can all appreciate the love, effort and care that goes into handmade items.
I am sure at one time or another, we have all been asked... "why do you sew when you can buy clothing so cheaply? I can buy a shirt at Kmart for $5, why would I buy handmade for $20?" [insert eye roll from the sewist]. There is a vast difference in fast fashion, versus slow fashion, and the ethos, values and beliefs driving both.
Which brings me to my next thought. How slow is slow fashion, using fast fabrics? Just as in the world of fast fashion v's slow fashion, there are fast fabrics v's slow fabrics.
What's in the price?
At Melco Fabrics we believe in quality over quantity. At Melco Fabrics our made to order fabrics are made possible by the teamwork of three small, family-owned businesses.
If you divide the cost per metre, say $38 for our printed cotton lycra, from that, each business averages $12.66 each. From this they need to pay manufacturing expenses, gst, award/fair wages, provide a safe working environment for staff, the cost of running the business and keeping the lights on ect. Anyway, you get the gist.
By manufacturing our knit fabrics in Australia, we are able to have clarity and transparency within our supply chain. Being able to visit the fabric mill and printers in person is inspiring and eye opening to say the least.
I understand it is not in everyone's budget to invest in slow and ethical textiles. If you are unable to stretch your hip pocket that little bit further, I encourage you to upcycle. Upcycling fabrics is a great way to reduce textiles waste and be environmental and sustainable on a budget. Often old bed sheets or clothing can be purchased for a few dollars from the 2nd hand shop and be revitalized into something amazing.
For those of you that are able to afford the investment in slow fashion or slow textiles, I encourage you to do so. Buying that handmade blouse at your local market, or a metre of Australian milled fabric, can mean all the difference to the small family businesses often behind them.
Slow fashion is fantastic, but I think on a deeper level, slow fabric is an important aspect too.
At Melco Fabrics we look forward to continuing our journey of expanding our Australian milled range of fabrics and sharing them with the textile's community.
We would love if you could tag #melcofabrics on social media in any of your Melco Creations.
On another note, if you have any questions about Melco Fabrics please don't hesitate to reach out.
Thanks for reading,
Where is your fabric made?
At Melco, we live by the principle: "If we can make it in Australia, we will." As such, since July 2022, we've adopted local manufacturing for all our knit fabrics. This shift allows us to support the local economy while also ensuring top-notch quality for our customers. In our continuous effort to provide a diverse range of fabrics, we have also introduced a selection of woven fabrics. These fabrics are imported from India, chosen for their exceptional quality and characteristics. While these are not locally made, we assure you that they meet our high standards of sustainability and ethical sourcing. Australia's woven textiles industry has significantly declined, with only a few remaining mills specializing in heavy canvas, police, and fire uniforms. Despite extensive research, we have encountered numerous dead ends in finding local options. This highlights the crucial importance of supporting the textile mills that still exist in Australia. At Melco, we prioritise this support by manufacturing our knit fabrics domestically, which are proudly certified with the Australian Made Campaign. For detailed information on each type of fabric, we encourage you to explore our website. We're excited about this transformation, and we appreciate your support as we continue our journey in local production. It's a commitment we're proud to make, embodying the best of Australian craftsmanship in every thread.
Can I amend my order once it is placed?
We are dedicated to providing you with a seamless and efficient shopping experience. Due to the swift nature of our order processing, we regret to inform you that once an order is placed, we are unable to make any amendments. As a small team committed to quality and expediency, our fulfillment process begins almost immediately after your order confirmation. This ensures that we can get your items shipped to you as quickly as possible. Because of this rapid processing, it is not feasible for us to alter an order once it has been confirmed. We understand that this might cause some inconvenience and we sincerely apologize for any disappointment this may cause. We encourage our customers to review their orders carefully before submission. For any questions or if you need further assistance, our customer support team is here to help. We are grateful for your understanding and appreciate your support of our business.
How can I be sure your fabrics are truly Australian Made and ethically produced?
We get it, trust is hard-earned. That's why we've made it official. We're a proud licensee of the Australian Made Campaign, meaning our knit fabrics don't just wave the Aussie flag, they're certified by the Australia Made certification. We don't just talk the talk, we walk the walk. But that's not all. We take our commitment to ethical production to heart. Our knit fabrics are not only 100% Australian-made, but we are also fully accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia. So when you choose Melco, you're choosing quality, authenticity, and ethical production all woven together. Just another way we're committed to offering the best to our customers!
Do you print your fabrics in house or is it done elsewhere?
Great question! At Melco, we believe in keeping things close to home. This is why we print and heat press our fabrics right here in-house. By overseeing the entire process from start to finish, we can ensure the high-quality, beautifully printed fabrics that our customers have come to expect from us. It's another way we are committed to delivering the best - from our house to yours!
Do you sell quilting fabrics?
You're in for a treat! We have just released a range of woven fabrics as a printing base for our art printed fabrics!
When will my order be shipped?
For in-stock fabric, we'll set your order in motion within two to three business days from the time you place it. During public holidays or promotions, your patience will be much appreciated as we might need a tad longer to pack your order. We hustle from Monday to Friday and take a well-deserved pause on Public Holidays.
For made-to-order fabric (that includes our art printed fabrics), we request a bit more of your patience - around 10 to 12 full working days from the day you place your order to manufacture the fabric. Please note that this is an estimate and during busy periods and sales this timeframe may be extended.
Here's a crucial heads up: if your order contains both made-to-order (art printed fabrics) and standard in-stock plain fabrics, we'll ship your order as a single package when the art fabrics are ready for dispatch. If you're eager to get your standard in-stock fabrics sooner, we recommend placing a separate order. At Melco, we're all about getting you your order as quickly and efficiently as possible, while ensuring the quality and care you expect from us. Your understanding is much appreciated!
Where are you located?
Our cozy warehouse is nestled in the heart of the Central Coast NSW in Charmhaven.
Do you have a shopfront?
While we don't operate a traditional storefront, we do offer a curated retail space within our warehouse. You're warmly invited to visit and discover unique items not featured on our website
If I am local can I pick up my order?
Indeed, you can! Click and collect is available for locals who'd prefer to pick up their orders. Please note that pickup times are by appointment only, and we'll reach out to schedule a collection time once your order is ready.
What if there is an issue with my order?
We strive for your absolute satisfaction with every Melco purchase. However, if your order doesn't quite hit the mark, we're here to help. You're welcome to return your purchase within 14 days from the original purchase date for a refund. Please note that the refund amount will be less the original shipping cost. To be eligible for a return, items must be in new, unworn/unwashed/uncut condition, just as you received them. Kindly note, the cost of return shipping is your responsibility.
So, before you pull out those scissors, we recommend ordering some of our free fabric samples if you're uncertain about fabric colors or textures. We're confident you'll love our products, but we also understand that sometimes things just don't work out. That's why we make our return process as smooth as our fabrics!
Are the colours accurate on your website?
We strive to represent our fabric colors as accurately as possible. However, keep in mind that screen displays can vary, so there might be slight differences in color when you receive your fabric. We do offer the option to order fabric samples on our website here
What if I find a fault with my order?
If you find a fault with your order, don't hesitate to email us within 14 days of receiving your fabric. To be eligible for a return, your item must be unwashed, and in the same condition you received it. Please include your order number and your name in your email, or submit an enquiry via our contact page. Once we receive the fabric, our team will inspect it and follow up with you regarding next steps.
What is the cost of shipping?
We cap Standard domestic shipping at $12.95. Orders to New Zealand are based on the cubic volume at checkout.
Do you offer express shipping?
We believe in providing flexible options to cater to everyone's needs. That's why at checkout, we give you two choices for shipping:
Standard Postage - Shipped with the most economical means to your location (Australia Post or Aramex).
EXPRESS Postage - Also through Australia Post, for those who need their items quickly.
But here's a heads up! Selecting "EXPRESS Postage" doesn't mean your order will jump the queue for dispatch or be shipped instantly - we'd need a team of superhumans for that! It simply means that once dispatched, your order will travel through the Express Post network of Australia Post, which is generally faster than Standard Post. We wish we could bend time, but until then, we appreciate your understanding!
Can I combine shipping?
We totally understand the appeal of combining shipping. However, we're a compact but mighty team here at Melco and, to ensure we maintain our efficiency and service quality, we unfortunately can't combine shipping when multiple orders are placed.
We appreciate your understanding and promise to continue striving to provide you with the best service possible, even if we can't bundle your orders together. Your support means the world to us and we thank you for being a part of the Melco family!
Do you offer international shipping?
Absolutely! The Tasman Sea may separate us, but we consider our Kiwi neighbours part of the extended Melco family. So, yes, we gladly ship to New Zealand and within Australia. Get ready to wrap yourself up in some of our beautiful, Aussie-made fabrics!
Do you offer wholesale discounts?
At Melco, we take pride in the quality of our fabrics. All of our knit fabrics are milled and made in Australia and are certified with the Australian Made Campaign. We are also certified with Ethical Clothing Australia. Our pricing reflects the quality and ethical standards we uphold. We're not aiming to be the cheapest, but rather, we focus on sustainability and ethically produced products.
We understand the needs of small businesses as a large majority of our customer base are small businesses. We take that into consideration with our pricing and we are comparable with other suppliers.
Wholesale Solid Colour Knit Fabrics: We do offer wholesale pricing for orders over 30m of the same fabric base for solid colours. If you're interested in this, please send a draft email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can provide you with more detailed information.
Wholesale Art Print Fabrics: Our art print fabrics hold a special place in our collection. Due to the extensive manufacturing process required for these fabrics, as well as the royalties we provide to our talented artists, the conditions for wholesale pricing are a bit different.
For our art print fabrics, we require a minimum order of 50m per fabric base and a minimum of 10m per design, to qualify for wholesale prices. If you're interested in this, please send a draft email to email@example.com and we can provide you with more detailed information.
Wholesale Custom Print Files: The process for custom print files is the same as for our art print fabrics, with a minimum order of 50m per fabric base and a minimum of 10m per design. The key difference is that there's a bit more wiggle room for the discount we can offer since we don't have to pay artist royalties. If you're interested in wholesale pricing for custom print files, please send us a draft order of what you're looking for and a sample of the file so we can work on a quote. Please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If these quantities are more than what you require you may be interested in joining our Fab Perks program. Designed with our valued customers in mind, the Fab Perks program allows you to earn reward points, leading to discounts and special offers. It's our way of ensuring that our loyal customers receive the best value and exclusive benefits.
Why is there an admin fee for emailing my custom artwork files?
At Melco Fabrics, we pride ourselves on offering exceptional quality and service. To maintain our high standards, we have a standard process for submitting custom print files. We recommend using our user-friendly file submission method available on our website, which ensures a smooth experience for both you and us. However, we understand that occasionally, customers may choose to submit their custom print files via email. A $40 administrative fee applies to help us cover the additional time and resources required for processing email submissions, which deviate from our standard production process.