Following the silk road to success
Words by Louise North
It was while wandering around the colourful and noisy markets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, that Loren Hackett developed an idea that would change the course of her life.
A new arrival to Port Fairy, Loren, who is a teacher and former project manager for the Red Cross, loves rare, vintage, and end-of run-silks.
During a short work stint in Cambodia, Loren found among the kilometres of textiles available some incredible reclaimed textiles that complemented her bigger philosophy on life to recycle, reclaim and reuse as much as she can.
It’s not just a new philosophy: Loren has been an innovative recycler for years.
She established a small business in Melbourne reupholstering old chairs and furniture, and earlier a market stall selling quality second-hand clothes salvaged from op shops and screen printed with funky designs.
“I’ve always loved making something useful out of nothing,” Loren said from her Port Fairy home.
The 36-year-old is well travelled, having lived in Italy, Greece and Spain and holidayed in Mongolia, the South Pacific, Vietnam, Thailand, the US and the Philippines.
And in those travels she has always had an eye on fashion and “trade waste” which gave Loren the idea to start her sustainable fashion label, Superlost.
As part of her business, Loren travels to Cambodia regularly and handpicks each piece of material from the many markets in Phnom Penh. In collaboration with an Australian woman who runs an ethical clothing workshop, Loren has developed a simple two-piece panel design used for long flowing dresses or shorter tops.
Nothing is wasted.
Loren believes in zero waste design principles which means all offcuts are used to create eye masks and pocket squares. (The eye masks were recently the winner of our Drift House competition which saw them chosen to be included in their maxi bar.)
Most of the silks Loren salvages are from the 1970s up to the 2000s and originally from China and Korea, with some from Europe, Indonesia and India.
The earliest silk that Loren has found was made in 1947. The piece was bought in Cambodia and originated from Hungary.
Silk from that period isn’t common as it wasn’t easy to make, so it was a find that she’ll never forget.
“There are kilometres of fabrics at those markets, but a just a small percentage are high quality vintage silks,” Loren explains.
“I like the idea of preserving the material as simply as I can. Good silk speaks for itself.”
Loren’s aim is to showcase the fabric, rather than a complicated design. The look is intentionally minimalist so both men and women can wear the garments and develop their own style.
“Silk is so special, it doesn’t need much bling!”
So far Loren has been selling her work at “trunk shows” to colleagues and friends in Melbourne and Port Fairy, but is hoping for a global market via her newly launched website.
Reclaimed and sustainable fashion is an emerging international trend, but Loren will be one of the first based in Australia to have a label that “doesn’t hurt people or the planet”.
“It makes beautiful common sense to makes clothes out of fabric that is literally trash, and preserve it,” Loren says.
“There is also a bigger conversation to have about consumption. You don’t have to look far to find things with meaning. To bring to your life something better than things made from exploitative industries.
“We need to think more carefully about what we buy and where we buy it.”
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