The village of Spring Ridge played host to the inaugural Fibre to Fashion lunch recently, celebrating women and sustainability in the cotton industry.
Hosted by the Spring Ridge Country Club, the event proved very popular, with tickets selling out in less than five minutes.
The event included a sit-down lunch, 100 women attended, and a presentation by fashion educator, designer and illustrator Emma Bond.
Mrs Bond champions cotton as a hero fabric due to its versatility, performance and natural fit in the circular economy. She participated in the 2022 Cotton Australia Australian Future Cotton Leaders program.
She was overwhelmed with the response to the Fibre to Fashion lunch.
"The luncheon was a joyful celebration of our regional industries - we had primary producers, local creative businesses, and so many come together for this event," she said.
"Several attendees told me they were so glad to be part of the conversation about our clothes.
"I was also struck by the excitement and gratitude of our female growers as they interacted and celebrated their local fibres transformed into fashion as they walked the Tama wrap runway, flanked by the sunburnt country, beautifully encapsulating people, planet and paddock."
In her address, Mrs Bond shared her personal stories, experiences, and passion for Australian cotton, which she said had a natural fit in the circular economy.
"I asked the women to look at the care labels on their clothes - and we discussed the significance of fabric blends and how they can hinder garment recyclability and compostability," she said.
"I also spoke of cotton's durability and recyclability. Some of my garments are made with upcycled cotton from the New Denim Project. It's cotton fabric made from waste, without any synthetic components added.
"Just like at cotton picking and ginning - where nothing is wasted; their leftover material from the upcycling process; is passed on to local coffee growers, where it is used as compost."
Mrs Bond also spoke of other upcycling cotton solutions globally, including Nucycl's Evrnu.
Evrnu is an advancement of the existing lyocell manufacturing method, which traditionally processes virgin wood, to instead process cotton textile waste.
"It has been found that the polymers of cotton actually perform better than those from the trees - because cotton has a higher cellulose content," Mrs Bond said.
"This new fabric can also be recycled. This is exciting and another great reason to design with cotton."
Mrs Bond visited local farms, including Kensal Green, to speak with Scott Morgan about his involvement in the Circular Cotton Farming Project, his use of solar-powered irrigation, and Australian cotton's future.
"It was reassuring that when visiting Scott Morgan's cotton farm - he spoke of this also. How that, if any spandex got in his soil, he'd never get rid of it," she said.
"Visiting Kensal Green was just awesome - to see the Circular Cotton Farming Project in action.
"Despite some quite heavy topics being discussed - Scott remained relentlessly optimistic in all our conversations, and he was keen to praise others in the industry driving remarkable innovations."
The following day, led by Spring Ridge Country Club committee member and cotton grower Carmen Ronald, Emma and Jessica Rea, Pursehouse Rural, visited the Carroll Cotton Company Gin, where Trudy Davies shared her story, love of cotton and appreciation of the strong, local community.
"Hearing Trudy's personal story and listening to her speak so fondly of her local community really resonated with me," Mrs Bond said.
"Our cotton industry is made up of such a vibrant community."
Mrs Ronald said Fibre to Fashion presented an opportunity to raise the profile of Australian-grown cotton.
"Its importance to our local economy and to celebrate the contribution women make to our industry and community," Mrs Ronald said.
"It has been perfectly timed to complement the conversations started by International Women's Day around elevating those women forging change via technology and sustainability in communities, workplaces and beyond."
A fashion parade showcasing Emma's label, Madi and Pip, was held on a runway of pink Tama wrap, with women wearing local cotton.
Tamworth's Emily Herbert was MC for the event.
Raffle tickets and Emma's illustration sold on the day raised $2830 for Thread Together.
Thread Together aims to reduce waste in the fashion industry, extending the life cycle of clothing by keeping it in circulation.
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