Photo by Tiff Tsang
So you’ve been reading about the concept of Fashion Revolution, attended a few events, been directed to some useful resources and are keen to begin adjusting your purchasing behaviour. You might now be thinking, what next? How do you approach brands, what do you ask and how you do you know that you are being given solid, accurate information that you can trust? What does transparency actually mean, how do you sort through an abundance of information (or perhaps a lack of) and how do you utilize this information going forward?
All very valid questions and we completely empathise with the overwhelm, effort and endless investigation that comes hand in hand with the task of pushing brands to outlay their operational and workplace standards. We encourage you to keep at it, stick together and share your findings. Working together is key in this overall process, where collective action and pressurewill play a part in pressuring larger brands to report accurately and potentially even begin cleaning up their act.
You can kick off your investigations with useful resources and how-to's from Fashion Revolution about approaching brands or you can check out resources such as Ethical Made Easy and Eco Warrior Princess, who speak directly with brands, getting an insight into what kind of information brands have already shared about what they do.Note- we recommend reading interview based research where the brand has actually taken part in presentation of information, rather than rating systems where brands aren’t often consulted or given ample opportunity to actively provide content that may not be publicly available.
Transparency from a brand’s perspective
As a brand in this conversation, we’d like to participate by not only remaining transparent to our consumers, but also leading by example. The concept of ‘transparency’ must become ‘normal’ within businesses of any type- it’s not an unheard of, radical or expensive concept. It’s honest, fair, sustainable and much more effective for business success and longevity.
Disclaimer - when we refer to transparency, we don’t mean the version where we brush the surface of our ‘commitment to ethical and sustainable sourcing’ and then focus on providing ‘insider information’ on new product releases and upcoming sales. In its truest form, all information is accessible, accurate and in-depth.
For us, it’s about being open and honest about our internal structure, our policies and procedures, our decision making process, our impact and how we intend to continually improve our operations to always be better for our team. We don’t shy away from our mistakes, we don’t hide or cover up anything - if we don’t straight up tell you about something that we tried and failed on, we will definitely offer honest answers to direct questions!
Transparency for us is also about acknowledging our ownership, and representing our company structure accurately. Oftentimes our company is perceived to be owned, run and pioneered by Hanna, our Australian co-founder, rather than as a joint and equal venture by both Hanna and Kunthear, our Cambodian co-founder. In fact, Kunthear is recognised as a leader in business in South East Asia, having recently been granted an award as a Social Entrepreneur from Women of the Future Awards South East Asia.
It’s important to us that every team member, whether a co-founder, a machinist or retail assistant, feel comfortable, supported and respected within their role. Our team are proud to work for a company that stands out against the ‘norm’ of the garment industry and feel honoured to work within a team of individuals that uplift, empower and strengthen one another. Showing up to work feeling respected is just as important as being paid fairly, and we do everything we can to make that happen. In honour of transparency, you can visit our workshop in Kampot, where you can see our team at work on the production floor!
From the Dorsu Floor
You can get to know every aspect of our business, through checking out our website, reading our blog, visiting us in Kampot or contacting us directly. We are open to any conversation. As well as questions, we love to receive feedback, hear your thoughts and have explorative and constructive conversations. We are still growing, and it takes time to reach goals and hit targets. It’s a slow process and we are absolutely aware that we aren’t perfect. So please, share your thoughts with us and we will do everything we can to answer your questions and provide tangible evidence.
Get to know our processes by reading our From the Floor Series, where we walk you through each step of our design, production and sales process. Click through below to a piece about each section of our business.
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: