HARA is a relatively young Australian Apparel company that started in 2016 and is dedicated to having their entire supply chain in one country and one location. They strongly value company transperancy, ethical practices, and supporting local economies. I first found out about the brand through ethical social media influencers on Instagram and was interested in the Ami bandeau top. The top comes in 10 different colours and has inclusive sizes, ranging from XS to 5XL. This is something that stood out to me since it’s so common for clothing companies to only cater to smaller sizes, and it is a positive sign of a company that cares about providing comfortable clothing for any customer.
I’d recommend HARA’s products to anyone that wants to make an investment on some soft sustainable, and minimalist style clothing. With their blend of organic fibres and natural dyes, and a highly transperant supply chain, there’s not a lot critiques to have, apart from the use of spandex and the price.
The Ami bandeau comes to a price of 45 AUD, which is two to three times more expensive than a brand like Cotton On. However, when comparing the quality and origins of pieces from each brand, HARA’s benefits would outweigh the negatives with its durability and work ethics. HARA also offers free international shipping, returns and exchanges, and discount codes for bundles to help customers save a little more.
Composition for pumpkin Ami bandeau (featured photo): 90% Lyocell Bamboo, 10% Spandex, natural turmeric dye
HARA’s Ami bandea is made using an OEKO-TEX 100 approved organic bamboo fabric and coloured with natural plant dyes. In doing so, they ensure higher quality and safe clothing from avoiding the use of toxic chemicals that get absorbed into the skin. The natural dyes used have a minimal environmental impact since they do not cause pollution from their disposal and are biodegradable.
Bamboo fabric is anti-static, hypo-allergenic, and soft on the skin. Growing and utilising organic bamboo for clothing is really sustainable too! Pesticides, insecticides or fertilisers aren’t needed, and only uses rainwater to grow. This is stark in comparison to the intensive water usage from growing conventional cotton, which can have an equivalent of 2700 liters for a single shirt. Bamboo is a really fast growing crop, growing up to 1 metre a day and even up to 30 metres tall. It doesn’t require large amounts of land since it can grow very densely, and new stems can be harvested again and again, so it does not need to be uprooted and replanted.
Spandex is a synthetic fibre, made from petroleum, with high elasticiy that helps HARA’s clothing have a comfortable stretch. The process of making conventional spandex takes up a lot of energy and uses toxic chemicals, and the material itself can lose elasticity over time. While the spandex only takes up 10% of the composition, I believe it would be within the company’s best interest of sustainability to switch using more environmentally friendly spandex fibres. For example, there are fabrics made of recycled spandex, and even a spandex alternative, LYCRA T162R, that’s made from corn sugars instead of petroleum.
All of HARA’s products are naturally dyed, cut, sewn, packaged and shipped in Melbourne, Australia. Parts of this process are also made public through their Instagram highlights, even offering a glimpse into how their factories look and function. By manufacturing and owning the whole supply chain, HARA is able to lessen its dependency on fossil fuels. This means fewer greenhouse gas emissions, less air pollution, and lower shipping miles. It also allows for the creation of “in house” recycling systems.
The process of making bamboo fabric involves soaking crushed bamboo in a non-toxic solvent that softens and breaks down the woody pulp to produce a usable cellulose fibre. Afterwards, all the water and solvent is filtered out and reused again for a future batch. The entire process is non-toxic and done in a closed-loop system, and remains unharmful to the environment and workers when done responsibly. The chemicals used are also approved by the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) and the Soil Association, and widely applied in other industries like soap production and food preparation.
Bamboo fabrics are only sourced from suppliers that can provide organic certifications for the growing of raw bamboo and OEKO-TEX 100 certifications. This is because some bamboo fabrics can be problematic in their production process, but this certification ensures that no harmful chemical are present on the final product or were used during the manufacturing.
Out of all the companies I’ve reviewed so far, HARA has by far provided the most transparency on workplace ethics and how employees are paid and treated. All of HARA’s employees work under the Australia, Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award 2010 (TCF award) which entitles them to the right to a living wage. The TCF award sets minimum hourly par rates, which get assessed annually by Australia’s federal wage setting body. Wages will always meet at least legal or industry minimum standards and must be sufficient to meet basic needs and provide discretionary income.
Regarding workplace conditions, HARA ensures that surfaces are hygienic, as well as providing lighting, seating, a comfortable temperature, toilets, and facilities for dining and drinking water. Snacks are available at all times, and staff are allowed breaks or time-off when needed. The company is also intolerant of any kind of discrimination against employees, and does not support the use of child labour and forced labour.