How to help your friends get into ethical fashion

April 23, 2018

Friends ethical fashion

Photo by Rita McNeill for Dorsu


Before 2013, ethical fashion was a niche on the outskirts of the mainstream. Over the last five years, the ethical movement has transcended trends and shaken-off its handicraft stigma to reveal design-forward garments that appeal to a new, discerning generation of consumers. Millennials surpass baby boomers as the largest generation and are poised to enter their prime spending years. They're demanding corporate responsibility in return for their loyalty, so big-box retailers are scrambling to appear sustainable.

The final watershed moment for fast fashion occurred on 24 April 2013, when Rana Plaza collapsed, killing 1,138 workers because of cost-cutting measures directly attributed to cheap clothing. Fashion Revolution formed soon after, encouraging people to ask their favourite brands #whomademyclothes, which presses brands to respond with #imadeyourclothes. The first Fashion Revolution Day coincided with the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza Tragedy, and by 2016, it had expanded into an entire week.

2017 was Fashion Revolution’s most wide-reaching campaign to date, with their hashtags achieving 533 million impressions across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter in one week. If you were one of the 113,000 people who asked their favourite brands, “Who made my clothes?” last year, then your social media followers likely have an inkling of the human rights and environmental abuses pervasive in fast fashion.

However, sustainability advocacy requires year-round action, but few people have the time or opportunity to start a blog, work for an ethical fashion brand, or organise a clothes swap. Fortunately, there is one small action we can take to become “micro-influencers” among our friends and family.

Social Proof

Social proof is marketing jargon for recommendations. It’s centred around word-of-mouth marketing because people are more likely to purchase a product if a friend recommends it. In business, it sounds sinister, but in advocacy, it’s the difference between funnelling money into Amazon or a start-up label.

When a friend asks for recommendations, direct them to an ethical option:


I'm looking for documentaries on Netflix. Any suggestions?


The True Cost is one of the BEST documentaries I’ve seen. Full Stop. Eye-Opening and worth your time.

Requests don’t have to be open calls on Facebook. If someone asks for advice on bridesmaids dresses, an interview outfit, or reliable shoes, direct them to an ethical brand. If you need ideas, Good On You App serves as a directory for ethical brands, and the Ethical Consumer Report gives well-known brands “grades” for their sustainability practices.

Bury the Lede

There’s one catch to making this work: don’t initially mention it’s ethical.
Experts offer brands this advice by stressing the importance of creating design-focused pieces because consumer education can alienate people. The same can be applied if we're merely trying to recommend a bag or t-shirt to a friend.
An October 2017 article in The Independent discussed why behavioural evolution has made it near impossible to change consumer behaviour through education:
“Ethical campaigners, journalists and even some brands have argued that consumers would be able to overcome these subconscious forces of fun and excitement if they had more information about the ethical issues. But evidence shows that this does little to increase ethical behaviour. In fact, more information tends to reduce the influence of ethical issues due to the complexity of the issues.”
Humans can’t process too many burdens, so our natural reaction to receiving stressful information is to switch-off our minds. A 2013 Georgetown study, published just one week after the Rana Plaza tragedy, discovered we're willing to make excuses if we’re loyal to a brand or an item is on sale.
“Desirable products or products created by favourable brands seemingly get a free pass, as long as consumers have the mental resources to justify their purchase. Selfishly, however, consumers do not believe it is permissible for their friends to do the same.”
Luckily, despite hedonistic tendencies, humans err toward ethics if given the option. The study goes on to explain how we can help our friends make ethical choices by offering side-by-side comparisons, stating, “It may look bad that a company uses sweatshops, but [justifications for immoral practices] should decrease when competitors show they can provide an equivalent product without the moral cost.”

Fashion Revolution Week and Beyond

This week, many of us will attend local events, and not only get to know our favourite brands, but also discover new brands who can say #imadeyourclothes. The term “revolution”  carries a lot of weight, and the enormity of the movement may feel overwhelming. Take the first step in your own community, among your inner circle. After all, when the crowds disperse, and the hashtags disappear for another year, it’s on us as ethical fashion advocates to continue its mission for the rest of the year.

Our Design Process

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.

Our Product

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 create pieces that will be mainstays in your closet.

In-house Pattern Making

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.

Dorsu Collections

Every 8 weeks, we release new collections consisting of 3-4 thoughtfully designed, intentional pieces to be worn with one another and across collections. We use limited edition fabrics, meaning each collection is small-batch, sitting perfectly alongside our year-round Core Collection. 

Our Production Process
Step 1: Cutting

The first step in the cutting process is washing the fabric, to test shrinkage and colour fastness. Our cutting team cut 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.

Step 2: Production room

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.

Step 3: Initial quality control

The sewn products are washed and individually measured against their specifications, checking they’re true-to-size.

Step 4: Finishing & final quality control

The final step in production is ironing and the second check for shrinkage, warping, 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 Australia 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 well-being of our employees above everything else.

Customer Service & Sales
In-Store Retail

We have two storefronts in Kampot, Cambodia - our Old Market Flagship Store and our Road 33 Production Studio Store. All team members take part in regular training on our new ranges, inclusive of design concept, fabric, fit and styling. 

Our Kampot based retail team manage the in-country delivery program, speaking directly with customers to facilitate the order and delivery process. 

Online Retail

We ship all online orders from our distribution space in Tasmania, Australia. Our online customer service team work against Australian EST, providing consistent and quality support to our international customers.

We welcome your feedback and are open to answering any questions you may have about sizing, construction, fabric, or our production practices. 

Wholesale & Custom Orders

We ship all bulk orders from our Road 33 Production Studio in Kampot, Cambodia. 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. 

Learn More About Factory Remnants

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.

Dorsu Employment & Safety Policies

All Dorsu team members are required to read, understand, sign and abide by our internal human resource policy that is inclusive of: