I purchased my first item from HARA the Label earlier this year: a powder blue pair of Frankie Flares. I started my sustainable clothing journey about a year and a half ago — committing myself to only buying secondhand and when firsthand, sustainably. That’s when I stumbled upon HARA, an Australian clothing label that they use, in their own words, “as a platform to bring change, awareness and education to the issues within the fashion industry.” I was really impressed with the quality of the flares, and also with the message of sustainable fashion that HARA pushes with their items and branding. I was also really appreciative of the fact that all of the information I was looking for regarding their sustainability practices seemed to be readily available on their website. Generally as a brand, HARA also is very size-inclusive and makes that clear on their social media and website. The only issue I noticed at the time of purchasing my pair was the price — a single pair of the flares came in at a hefty $75 USD, which wasn’t at all easy on my bank account, something I can also imagine other people would struggle with. While I understand that the price accounts for the small nature of the production crew and the attention to detail, the exclusionary nature of expensive sustainable clothing can be a turn-off for many people looking for eco-conscious fashion.
HARA’s products are made from a bamboo fabric called Lyocell, which is asserted on their website to be, “one of the most sustainable raw materials in the world.” This is supported by many other facts they provide, including only watering with rainwater, no need for pesticides, less land use, increased oxygen production compared to trees, and the renewable nature of bamboo stems. HARA also operates in a “closed-loop” system, where all of the materials and water that result from the process of breaking down the bamboo is reused. They also reuse the offcuts of their cloths in order to reduce waste.
The Lyocell they use is sourced in China, and while they did not describe the production process of the Lyocell used in HARA items, founder Allie Cameron asserted in an interview that it, “took awhile to find a supplier that could guarantee the right quality and manufacturing processes, but it’s worth the time to research and find the right fabric.” I did a little more research to learn more about this type of fabric, as I’d never heard of it, and learned that it also went under the name of TENCEL. The research I did supported a lot of the statements made about the sustainability of the fabric on HARA’s website, but it also provided some disadvantages. While the raw fabric is compostable, blending the fabric with other synthetic fibers (as HARA does, making their ratio 90% Lyocell to 10% Spandex), makes it no longer compostable. The fabric, as with many fabrics, also takes a lot of energy to produce.
HARA also exclusively uses plant dyes in their production process, which is completed in their warehouse in Melbourne. These natural dyes include turmeric, indigo, and madder root that are all biodegradable. They did not specify where they source their dyeing materials from, which is one thing that I was missing, however they are both low impact and non-toxic.
The main production chain of HARA’s items occurs in Melbourne, Australia. The local manufacturing allows HARA to reduce their carbon footprint. This includes the reduction of international shipping, trash production, and potential sources for inequality in their production process that may happen abroad. They explain on their website that there was a possibility that some of their chemicals used in the production process were harmful, but they asserted that when used responsibly they were not impacting the environment. I wish that they explained more about this, as they didn’t explain what the chemicals were or what they could do. However, I still am appreciative of the transparency they repeatedly showed about almost every stage of the production process, and how easy it was for me to do my own research and learn more about them as a brand.
HARA was founded by Cameron in 2017, who started her passion for sustainable clothing by creating an online page where she would resell second-hand clothing. She was inspired to create the brand after visiting India and seeing the incredible poverty many of those who work in the fashion industry live in. HARA guarantees their employees living wage, minimum hourly pay rates, and comfortable working facilities. Something else I really appreciated was how far they went above the minimum benefits set by the Australian Government. These include breaks whenever needed, preventing any sort of discrimination in their space, and having snacks always available for their employees. On their social media, it went into a little more depth about their production team, which at the time was 13 people who cut, sewed, and dyed the pieces. I couldn’t find more information about their employees, but I was satisfied with the information provided.