Kelli brings her eco-fashion label home

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FAMILY has drawn eco-fashion designer Kelli Donovan, a CIT fashion graduate, home to Canberra with her established label Pure Pod, which is recognised as one of the pioneers in sustainable fashion. 

Pure Pod started as a manifestation of Kelli’s experiences living in Melbourne and Byron Bay.

Two decades working in the Melbourne fashion scene left Kelli burnt out so she and partner Sean Watson, also from Canberra, left their inner-city home to live on a macadamia farm near Byron Bay. There he continued his business as a photographer and she studied to be a yoga teacher.

“When I finished TAFE here in the late ‘80s, I really wanted to do eco-fashion, but it wasn’t the right time,” Kelli says.

By 2007, Australia was ready for sustainable fashion and Kelli and Sean went in search of high-quality fabrics made from merino wool, soya bean, bamboo, organic cotton, hemp, silk and linen.

“We found this amazing group of people in the Byron Bay area that were like us and had fashion skills so we just started working together,” Kelli says.

Pure Pod has grown to be at the forefront of ethical fashion in Australia, with clients throughout Australia, NZ, Canada, the US and South-East Asia.

Kelli describes the look as chic, contemporary and stylish with an urban influence. The collections are designed for women aged 30-plus, but she insists there are devoted customers ranging from 18 to 80.

She says the ranges are timeless, stylish and designed to be worn in layers.

“Whether rural or urban dwellers, Pure Pod is created with the discerning buyer in mind – the conscious consumer with contemporary tastes, that loves style, an eye for quality, natural fibres and, most importantly, has an interest in sustainable fashion and their own health and wellbeing,” she says.

“Pure Pod takes great care through our entire process to make our company as environmentally friendly as possible.

“We are working hard to make our business cleaner and greener all the time.

“Our vision is to provide a cleaner, more sustainable industry for future generations, by helping to pioneer change in the fashion manufacturing industry and educating the fashion conscious consumer, that there is no need to sacrifice fashion for sustainability.”

When it comes to making people aware of what they wear, Kelli wishes people would think twice before buying that $10 T-shirt from a chain store.
“We couldn’t even cut pattern for $10, our pattern maker would probably get $30 an hour for her work… and that’s not including the cost of your fabrics, suppliers, the people that grow the fabric, the people who knit the labels, the people who print the swing tickets, who make the coat hangers,” she says.

While Sean manages the business side of Pure Pod, he’s got a passion for fashion, too, and understands the virtues of the cool, soft textiles used in Pure Pod’s collections: lightweight Merino wool, that is warm in the winter and cooling in the summer; bamboo – a high-quality and versatile textile that is fresh to wear, adapts to body temperature, is great for allergy-sensitive skin, grown without chemicals or fertilisers and minimises water wastage; and a help-soy blend, which matches linen in its quality.

Sean and Kelli both went to Narrabundah College. They have a daughter Ruby, 2, and are living and working out of the Farrer home Kelli grew up in.

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