It was behind the espresso machine at Fairweather Coffee on Solomon Street that Lauren Crago brewed up an idea for an ethical clothing label.
“I really developed a feeling of community [then], and thoughts on … the difference I wanted to make in the world,” she says. “A global community is often represented by people on a street.” And so, Solomon Street was born.
Crago trained as a graphic designer, but office life wasn’t quite doing it for her. “I wanted to create something that was able to run on its own, but then be able to support as many people as it could,” she says.
Solomon Street’s business model is based on a global micro-lending fund that helps people out of poverty. “When a piece is purchased, customers will choose who the profit from their purchase impacts,” she says. “We believe that lending is one of the most powerful and sustainable ways to create economic and social good and it means we can touch more lives with the same dollar. Borrowers can start or grow a business, go to school, access clean energy or simply realise their potential.”
Now, with support from Renew Adelaide, which develops new enterprise in vacant spaces, Solomon Street has its own retail shopfront in Regent Arcade. It’s a store, but also headquarters for design and garment construction.
Previously, pieces were sold online or at market stalls. But it was important for Crago to have somewhere for customers to try the clothes on. “If a garment is going to fit for years, you want to make sure it’s really well made and fits correctly.”
In store there is a collection of vibrant pieces such as soft leggings and crop tops, high-waisted bikinis, and T-shirts. The prints – which start as colour-pencil illustrations by Crago – are food-inspired and summery. Think pink grapefruit, figs, green leaves and apricots. Crago launched Solomon Street’s first apparel range over the weekend, which traverses daywear, leisurewear and swimwear – all in classic ’70s silhouettes.
The label joins a shift among Adelaide designers towards “slow fashion”, which values sustainability and waste reduction. It was championed in Adelaide Fashion Festival’s main program for the first time this year.
“All our materials are natural fibres,” says Crago. “And there’s only one exception to that rule: the swimwear. It’s made from recycled fishing nets and plastic bottles.” Swimwear is constructed at Adelaide ethical clothing manufacturer Jem Designs while Crago hand makes all linen wear in the studio.
As well as using environmentally conscious materials, Crago considers an entire piece of fabric during the design process. For example, by making headscarves from offcuts to reduce waste.
But sustainability wasn’t decided on as a conscious point of difference. “It wasn’t even a choice I had to make,” says Crago. “It’s something that’s always been important to me as an individual.”
Shop 32, Regent Arcade, Adelaide
Tue to Thu 10am–5pm