Here's the story of our we came to the decision to move some of our production to Bali, Indonesia. It's a bit of a saga, but we're committed to transparency in production so have tried not to leave anything out!
At the beginning of 2016 our clothing manufacturers in Melbourne raised their prices by 40% without giving us any notice. As we were about to begin production on our Loose Leaf collection, we had to decide whether to swallow the increased prices (which meant making hardly any profit on each item) or raise our prices. We swallowed the increase but knew that we would need to find a new manufacturer.
We visited a number of local manufacturers and got some estimates, which were unfortunately also very high. We are a tricky prospect because we have mostly printed clothing (which makes cutting very difficult and adds significant cost) and make in small quantities. We got the feeling that most places were not keen to work with us. Most factories that are left in Melbourne are overrun with work (if their quality is good) and costs can be extremely high. We were looking at prices that would mean dresses would end up being $400+ and the factories would not commit to working with us within our requirements and timelines.
We feel that having prices that high is unreasonable to our customers – at $400 for a dress we would not be able to afford our own products! So we considered shutting down the clothing side of the business, or bringing production in-house, or looking offshore for a manufacturer. We had to conclude that we do not have the space, expertise or equipment to bring production in-house and costs would likely end up being much the same. So after much searching and talking to industry friends and associations, we came across a small, ethically run factory in Bali. We chatted to them a bit and checked their credentials and found them to be helpful, reasonable, flexible and lovely to deal with. They answered our questions fully and were happy for us to visit any time and meet the team. We were not always offered that opportunity when talking to Melbourne makers.
We produced some samples with them and did a full run of print tests, which thankfully were top-notch! Our detailed prints are sometimes difficult to produce so this was a great sign. We were also offered the possibility of making some batik prints which we will be experimenting with in future collections. We decided to produce the Hollywood collection with them and are thrilled with the quality and attention to detail. Above all we are happy to know that the workers have good conditions, are paid appropriately, are looked after if getting sick, and that the factory is constantly refining and improving its environmental footprint. In case you missed it, their ethical standards are listed here. In the future we will be visiting the factory once or twice a year (depending on what collections are made where) to inspect it in person and talk to staff.
We are committed to transparency in production so if you think there's something we missed or you have any further questions, please drop us an email. We anticipate that we'll continue to make women's clothing collections in Bali, with other products made locally in Melbourne.