(Photography by Levon Baird for The Social Outfit)
Working directly with businesses and individuals who are committed to creating a positive impact is important to us at Dorsu - allowing us to bring others along on what we believe is a necessary journey to drastically alter the nature of the fashion industry. We want to use our Journal as a space to talk about how everyday people and businesses can, and are, doing great things by challenging the status quo. We feature legends that both inspire and help us to meet our potential - and we have learned that by sharing their stories we have inspired others to become everyday advocates, chipping away at the small, everyday changes that contribute to much wider and purposeful impact.
When we started chatting to The Social Outfit team back in early 2017 - we knew that we were destined to create beautiful things together! Starting out as a wholesale partnership - we have grown our relationship into a supportive, purposeful collaboration, combining our strengths to design and produce exclusive clothing that is rooted in the intention of positive industry change and community based impact.
Meet The Social Outfit
The Social Outfit is a fashion label that prioritises the people that make up its team. Providing employment and training opportunities to people from refugee and new migrant communities, The Social Outfit is shaking up the mainstream fashion industry, using a social business model to build a fashion business that focuses on valuable skills training in design, production, sales and marketing.
With a commitment to industry and community collaborations, The Social Outfit is not only providing opportunities for its community of workers, they are also spreading a message through industry networks, consumers and the press - that it’s possible to run a successful business that works alongside and with people, lifting up those around them and providing opportunities for skills development.
We asked Jess from The Social Outfit about her thoughts on the benefits of collaboration within the fashion industry:
“Collaboration is always at the heart of what we do, and we count so many wonderful designers, brands, and organisations in our network of industry supporters. I think the whole fashion industry benefits from this cross pollination because it amplifies smaller brands and their approaches to sustainability, bringing these issues into the mainstream conversation, as well as to fashion fans who might not be aware of the reality behind their purchases.
For The Social Outfit specifically, it’s wonderful bringing together the new migrant and refugee community with Australian creatives - sharing skills and ideas to make new things. I really love that we don’t have one head designer, and many of the aesthetic cues for each new collection come from our community and industry collaborators, as well as the fabrics that they donate. It makes for a challenging but really exciting creative process each and every time!”
The capsule collection is made up of 5 limited edition pieces, designed collaboratively by Dorsu and The Social Outfit. Made with remnant cotton jersey fabric sourced in Cambodia, garments are produced in-house at our production studio in Kampot, Cambodia and available exclusively at The Social Outfit.
Each piece is designed to balance out the boldness of The Social Outfit pieces, their colours and intricate patterns. Teaming up with The Social Outfit to create these complimentary designs fulfils our ‘dream design goals’ - we want Dorsu clothing to be an addition to your style - to be the pieces that you wear everyday to complimentyou, as either a base or feature piece. We intentionally design our clothing for you to wear your own way - and these bold basics fit perfectly with The Social Outfit garments.
Jess shared with us the inspiration behind the collection for The Social Outfit:
“Collaborating has seemed like a really natural progression for us both. The Social Outfit’s supporters have been fans of Dorsu since we first became a stockist, and the streamlined cuts and subtle details of Dorsu garments has been a welcome balance to a lot of the louder prints we have in store! Dorsu has really helped us to embrace block colours, so it’s been wonderful working on our limited edition Teal and Glacier pieces together.
So many of Dorsu’s goals and enthusiasm align with The Social Outfit’s, thinking creatively to present an alternative model of making fashion, and one which prioritises people and the environment. But I think the strength of us collaborating comes from the different ways in which we approach this aim, and how that brings different challenges and opportunities in Cambodia and Australia. The initial response to this first collaboration has been brilliant, and we can’t wait to build on that into the future!”
Check out the limited edition pieces in-store at The Social Outfit in Newtown Sydney or purchase online at www.thesocialoutfit.org - and let us know what you think!
Want to know more about The Social Outfit and what they do? Here’s our interview with Jess from the very early days of our blossoming partnership.
Dorsu X The Social Outfit Rolled Sleeve Crew in Teal
Dorsu X The Social Outfit Cropped Sleeve Top in Glacier
Dorsu X The Social Outfit Cropped Sleeve Dress in Teal
Photography by Levon Baird for The Social Outfit / Styling by Peter Simon Phillips / Modeled by Hema Ricchetti and Mary Kellei
We collaborate as an entire team, combining design and production priorities
Our design and sourcing processes are inter-linked. Sometimes we design and then source fabrics we wish to produce in, and other times we discover fabric we love and can create accordingly, quickly.
Meticulously designed for everyday wear, focusing on quality above all else.
You inspire us -- our #DorsuCrew. We love talking to you and learning about what you do, what you need, and how clothing fits into your life. Every day, we meet fellow travellers from around the globe, visiting us during their holidays in Kampot. They buy Dorsu for our quality; withstanding weeks or months of adventures. When they return home, they have their go-to essentials for work, weekends, and holidays.
We make our own rules and don't abide by trends, mass consumption or over-production. By investing our time and talent into thoughtful design, we'll create pieces that will be mainstays in your closet.
Our patterns are made in-house by our Co-Founder and Head of Production & Design, Kunthear. With years of experience and training, she opts for the traditional method of measuring and cutting paper to transform concepts into complete, graded patterns.
Each year, we release new collections of carefully-selected, exciting designs in limited edition colours. Sitting alongside is our Core Collection, available year-round in beloved neutrals.
The first step in the cutting process is washing the fabric, to test shrinkage and colour fastness. Our cutter, Samorn, cuts paper patterns from the originals, laying them on the material in a way that minimises wastage. Cutting up to 25 layers at a time, we bundle each piece according to size.
The cut and bundled pieces are then moved into the production room and delegated along the production line. It’s fast and straightforward, ensuring we create consistent end-products.
The sewn products are washed and individually measured against their specifications, checking they’re true-to-size.
The final step in production is ironing and the second check for shrinkage, warping, and construction or fabric faults. The final garments are folded, packed and stored for sale. Some are moved directly into our studio store (located at the front of our production space), while others go to our flagship store in Kampot, or sent to Tasmania for international retail.
All production staff undergo extensive training and skills development to ensure safe, efficient and quality work by all team members. We train all new staff on our internal Human Resources policy, including occupational health & safety procedures, fire safety and evacuation, and child protection. We update and renew training annually, with ongoing instruction on equipment safety and maintenance, as well as the protocols to assess risk and responsibly address incidents in the workplace.
Fair and safe employment is the responsibility of all companies, and we prioritise the physical and emotional wellbeing of our employees above everything else.
We have two storefronts in Kampot, Cambodia: at the Old Market and the front of our Road 33 production studio, led by our Retail Sales Manager. All team members take part in quarterly training on our new ranges -- design, material, and styling -- and relay customer feedback to the design team.
Also, if you live and work in Cambodia, our In-Store Retail Team are the people organising in-country delivery, answering your messages, and calling couriers to make sure your package arrives safely and timely.
We ship our Australia and international orders from Australia. However, our E-Commerce Manager works in our Kampot production studio, making sure our international customers can have the same experience as you were to visit us in person.
We welcome your feedback and are open to answering any questions you may have about sizing, construction, material, or our production practices.
We ship all bulk orders from our Road 33 production studio. Most of the time, these are made-to-order. As a result of having a close-knit team, we can offer a seamless buying experience. Our sales staff speak to our Production Manager, face-to-face so that you can have the most accurate updates on the status of your order.
Our fabric is remnant cotton jersey sourced from independent suppliers in Phnom Penh.
Remnant fabric (also known as "deadstock" or "surplus") is unused and unwanted leftover rolls of cloth in its original condition.
As a result of Cambodia’s pervasive garment manufacturing industry and issues that occur along the fashion industry’s incredibly complex supply chain, vast amounts of fabric are deemed unusable by brands on a daily basis. This waste arises due to reasons such as incorrect or oversupply of cloth, last minute changes in production schedules and the ever-increasing need for brands to be immediately responsive and adaptive to fashion trends.
These fabric leftovers are sold on from brands and factories to a local fabric supply industry, who then sell on through the Cambodian supply chain. We scour the warehouses of our preferred suppliers and purchase rolls of fabric per kilogram. When sourcing for our collections, we buy up to 100 kilograms of a collection colour (like burgundy) and up to 300 kilograms of a core colour (like black and navy).
Due to the nature of sourcing factory remnants, we can't guarantee consistency in the fabric blends. Consequently, we burn-test every fabric we buy to ensure it has very little or no synthetic fibres.
We pre-wash a sample of every new fabric, testing for colour fastness and shrinkage.
We know that using factory remnants has limitations. We know we can’t trace the true origins of our material. But, we are doing what we can, within the context in which we work. Cambodia doesn't have cotton mills or weaving facilities so, we are limited by access. As a small brand, we experience financial barriers of meeting minimum order quantities of suppliers outside of Cambodia and then importing fabric into the country. We are acutely aware of our impact on the local economy, and we choose to place our money where it has the most significant impact.
All Dorsu team members are required to read, understand, sign and abide by our internal human resource policy that is inclusive of: