By Belinda Willis
As models took to the catwalk at Raj House in the city of Adelaide last week, Lauren Crago saw the fruits of her design labour appearing in more ways than one.
Not only was she showing the first ever Solomon Street collection of ethical clothing after a hard year planning and designing – the collection also centred around her own designs featuring bold, fruit-inspired prints.
“At the moment the designs are inspired by fruit and vegetables, there is a real beauty in them,” Lauren says.
“The current prints are focused mainly on apricots and figs, they hold a special place in my heart with family, my mum and grandma, and my love for cooking…. I have great memories of me and my mum picking figs.”
The clothing range is also remarkable on another layer. All the garments were made from carefully selected, sustainable fabrics including recycled fishing nets, and were printed in Australia. The label was greeted with strong support for the launch at the Feast Festival headquarters in Adelaide’s West End.
Among the family, friends and loyal customers were other local makers and those involved with other eco fashion brands including Huntermade and organic sleepwear label Jager.
It’s been a whirlwind month for the entrepreneurial 25-year-old as her burgeoning label also opened its first bricks and mortar home in historic Regent Arcade off Rundle Mall with support from Renew Adelaide.
In a world dominated by consumerism, Lauren says it’s been a passionate pursuit. She first started Solomon Street to sell eco-friendly biodegradable textiles and stationery online about a year ago, creating bound books she designed and cut herself along with cards.
The name for the clothing and stationery label came from the street in the Adelaide CBD where Lauren previously worked at Fairweather coffee as a barista.
But she kept her eyes on the end goal; to produce her own eco fashion label. She is now creating bold designs then taking them to a Melbourne manufacturer for the fabric to be printed.
The fabrics range from organic cotton, a linen and cotton blend, and recycled nylon made from fishing nets in Italy, used in her line of swimwear.
Garments including bathers, leisure wear and jumpsuits are then sewn either by Lauren or through another Adelaide business with the final products landing in the store or being sold online.
“My inspiration comes from changing the way businesses behave, we are a very consumerist society, the fashion side of things is a large part of the business,” she says.
“There are so many facets to the designs. I wanted to create clothing that was comfortable to wear but in a flattering silhouette, it’s reminiscent of the ‘70s, A-frame dresses and flared, wide-leg pants. They are vibrant and fun but comfortable and they will last a really long time.”
It’s been a boost for Lauren, moving into the like-minded hub of Regent Arcade.
There’s a vegan juice bar nearby along with Have you met Charlie?, a gift store featuring homewares, jewellery and prints from independent South Australian makers, many with a sustainable bent.
Oh Deer Sugar is nearby with its non-edible bakery making ‘food for the skin’ bath and body products – all handmade in Adelaide using cruelty free, vegan ingredients to replicate desserts.
And there’s the small design studio Leatherworks Adelaide that specialises in quality, handmade leather goods. It’s owned by Lauren’s family friends and she created the store branding.
“I’m really excited to be in Regent Arcade, it’s known as a hub for a lot of young and up and coming designers in Adelaide and being part of that cohort is pretty cool,” she says.
Lauren is also working hard to make Solomon Street a zero-waste brand with the current packaging bio-degradable and products which can be recycled or are also biodegradable.
She also says customers buying her clothing can bring them back for alterations – like tightening straps – to ensure they last longer.
There are plans to use some of the sales profits as loans for those experiencing poverty to gain financial support.
“I want to create ethical and sustainable fabric and paper products from beautiful prints that fund life-bettering projects for our local and international community,” Lauren says.
“We believe that humans are innately generous and kind. Our beliefs lie in the idea that even as one person, one team, one community, we can make the world into a better place.”
Industry in focus: Craft industries
Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.
South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.
Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.