Photography by Pip Cree, words by Hanna Guy.
As an Australian living overseas I have felt numerous feelings during the bushfire emergency in my home country. Many personal feelings; the obvious helplessness for the people affected and deep rage at the current government's internationally-recognised shameful lack of humility for those affected and lack of a progressive approach to climate action. But also, other unexpected feelings related to Dorsu.
It has felt irrelevant, uncomfortable and at times outright inappropriate to run any form of marketing campaign - everything seems insignificant in comparison to what so many Australians are going through at the moment and what will come across the predicted long, hot and dry summer.
Other unexpected feelings include a deep gratitude for Cambodians wanting to know if my family is ok, our Dorsu team wanting to know what we can do through our business and incredible pride for the humble stories of community spirit and survival slowly creeping out through the media.
For many Australians this is a deeply disturbing political issue where our country’s leadership has become an international embarrassment and the impact on our ecosystems will set a new global standard, one that we cannot be proud of.
Our friends and community have been asking for my take on the situation and how they can help. My answer is that it is complicated. I believe we have to find a personal balance in the short and long game, our way to act now and also commit to the long-term support that will be required for recovery.
We don’t feel comfortable donating our products and clothes just yet. This is adding stress to already overloaded and traumatised small communities. When organisations directly ask for specific garments, we’ll be ready.
We decided not to donate a percentage of profits or sales during the initial media spread as we were fearful of an accidental encouragement for overconsumption, we decided it was better just to give cash immediately while making a plan. So we did.
We have committed to donate $10 from the sale of every Slow Mindful Fair Fashion T-Shirt during 2020. Our sales, web and online distribution team have also committed to process these specific orders voluntarily, so we’ll be donating that portion of their salaries also.
The phenomenal Empty Esky campaign highlights that not only have many small businesses been destroyed, but it has been at the peak of their tourist season. Building back up takes time and resources and we’re doing as much as we can to support our stockists in affected areas. If you’re in Australia please consider taking your next holiday break to one of these towns and support the local businesses.
All companies are responsible for doing their bit and we want to speed up some of our sustainability plans. Our online sales are already shipped using Sendle, a carbon-neutral delivery service disrupting the Australian postage system, but we’ll be prioritising offsetting transport across our entire supply chain. We’ll also be transitioning over to solar and increasing existing storage and usage of rainwater (currently used for the pre-wash process of our production).
We will be increasing your access to information as much as possible and ensuring our marketing tools, predominantly our social media, are as useful as possible. We’ve never been a brand focused on tricking you into thinking you need more stuff, but we do want to increase the amount of information you can access and help you make informed decisions. Please be sure to sign up to our newsletter and follow our social media.
I do believe that this is a multi-faceted problem, it is personal, political and complex. I've not yet decided on the most effective way to help, but we must acknowledge our incredible freedom and safety to engage in politics, a privilege not experienced by many others across the world.
Engaged and active citizenship is an important part of any democracy. There are numerous ways to take action within your personal capacity, time available and budget. Shift Australia provides clear information to help you take actionable steps towards demanding systemic change.
The garment industry’s environmental impact is larger than we all realise and I fundamentally believe that we as individuals can truly change “the system” through changing our personal behaviours. Fast Fashion companies are falling sure, but we’re still consuming at unnecessary levels and until it’s acceptable to run around naked we need to change our clothing buying habits. Buying less, second-hand, local and sustainable is a great way to take action.
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 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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: