With VAMFF just around the corner, I wanted to catch up with one of my favourite ethical brands to talk about how they are promoting an active lifestyle, while using waste to create stylish activewear. I am personally extremely picky with activewear and it’s one of the few things I was a little funny about buying second hand. Although my mind has recently begun to change, something about buying items that other people once spent a lot of time sweating in definitely got to me. I recognise a lot of people probably feel the same way and while on the whole I think shopping second hand is a great way to shop ethically, there is still a need to produce activewear.
Active Apostle is an amazing example of a brand taking all the right steps. They recycle waste into fabric, they treat their workers fairly, and they create high quality items that are perfect for exercise and can be used for years to come. Not to mention the products are similarly priced to large activewear brands like Nike, which means you don’t even need to spend any extra to buy something ethical.
I own two Active Apostle tops myself and wear them any chance I get! The fabric feels soft and smooth on my skin and while it is figure fitting, never feels tight. I also love the cut of the sleeves and have even used it as a rash vest since the material also works well in the sea.
Active Apostle has a range of both mens and women’s activewear, designed in Australia by Founder and Personal Trainer, Andrew Abraham. Andrew is dedicated to improving the fashion industry, proving with Active Apostle just how well it can be done compared to fast fashion brands that put profits before people and planet. Andrew also gives back by supporting the charity Dark Bali, with proceeds from all garment sales go toward the fight against human trafficking.
Enough from me, let’s hear from the man himself. Let’s go behind the brand with Andrew, founder of Active Apostle.
What inspired Active Apostle and prompted you to start an activewear line?
I started ACTIVE APOSTLE as a response to the fast fashion trends of recent times. Alarmingly, modern brands are putting profits before people and planet, by exploiting our physical and social environments to satisfy our increasingly consumer driven lives. Recognising this, I conceptualised a sports brand that uses sustainable fabrics, adopts ethical manufacturing and aims to achieve social impact in the community.
Describe Active Apostle in one sentence:
We are a movement to inspire living a more active and sustainable life.
Why was it important to you to be an ethical business?
It’s important to be an ethical business because I want to demonstrate that it’s possible to run a profitable company without exploiting people or the planet. It’s the main reason I put my heart and soul into this vision behind the brand.
You use Econyl in your products, how is this sourced and turned into fabric?
Well firstly, the company Aquafil, that produce the Econyl® yarn work with marine divers to retrieve discarded fishing nets from seas around the world. That is then combined with other pre and post consumer waste nylon (usually carpet fibres) and broken down and regenerated into a nylon yarn using their patented technology, suitable for different types of apparel. Also, the factory in Italy that produce the fabric adhere to strict environmental standards in relation to energy usage, wastewater, CO2 emissions and recycling.
Unlike the majority of ethical fashion brands I know, you also create clothing for men. Do you have any insight as to why some brands currently don’t make ethical menswear?
Yes, we certainly do. Sustainability isn’t a gender issue, it’s a humanity issue. Every person should strive for progress in making the most sustainable choices in order to preserve our beautiful world. The reason why most brands don’t focus on menswear, is because the whole slow fashion movement is driven by women. There are various reasons as to why this is, which are beyond the scope of this question, but at this stage it may not make financial sense for these brands to focus on a subset of an already small subset which is ethical fashion.
Do most of your male customers purchase because they want to shop ethically and have you noticed if there is a rise in men shopping ethically?
Yes, I’d say most of my male customers (and female customers for that matter), make purchases because they have a desire to shop knowing that no one was exploited within our supply chain and our materials are sustainable. On top of that, our simple yet classy style is also a selling point. As for whether I’ve seen an increase in men shopping ethically, I’d say yes, but the majority of the slow fashion markets and events are still predominantly attended by women.
What is your favourite piece in the Active Apostle collection?
Our collection is pretty small at the moment. Firstly being a fledgeling start up, we don’t have the resources to launch so many different designs or lines. Secondly, we wanted to avoid the waste that may arise producing an abundance of clothes people may not wear. Therefore, out of the current 6 items, my favourite is the men’s tank as it has a neat style that accentuates the gentleman’s upper body. However our best selling item is the women’s leggings, which we’ve run out of in some sizes.
Are there areas where you know you want Active Apostle to improve, and will this be achievable if you brand grows?
Yes, I’d definitely like to incorporate more prints as part of our collection. More importantly though, I’d like a way to create a larger social impact through our garment manufacturing by contracting the services of women who have escaped or are vulnerable to sex trafficking; a model akin to that of the Australian clothing brand Outland Denim. At the moment, we’re working with Dark Bali to give proceeds from our garment sales to help them in their fight against this inhumane practice, but in the future, we’d like to provide employment opportunities to create sustainable income for these women. I truly believe this is part of our calling as a brand and business.
‘Greenwashing’ is everywhere these days, is there anything you want consumers to ask brands so they can make informed buying choices?
#whomademyclothes is a good one and a prominent hashtag on the gram. It addresses the labour aspect of the apparel production process. Another good question to ask is “what are my clothes made from?”
If you weren’t busy creating awesome ethical activewear, what would you like to be doing?
Well I’m also a personal trainer so other than run an activewear brand I’m pretty active myself. I enjoy coaching people and helping them toward their health and fitness goals. Further down the line I’d like to implement some business ideas about working with specific populations in regard to their overall health.
Finally, what’s next for Active Apostle!
Glad you asked. We have some new colours and designs coming out in the fabric of our original collection. Also, we’re testing out a new recycled fabric made from post consumer plastic bottles. The prints of this collection are inspired by the Australian outback. Stay tuned to our Instagram @activeapostle for updates.