by Neometro

A Conversation With Arnsdorf Founder Jade Sarita Arnott.

Design, People - by Open Journal

June 19th, 2019.

 There are three types of brands in the current fashion climate. There are the iconic fashion houses of high esteem and equally high price tages. Then, like many other industries, there is the ‘fast’ fashion movement. The hungry beast that fuels accessability and trend at the expense of more holistic measures. Then there are those brands that push through the noise and set their sites firmly on sustaining both resources and brand longevity. Those brands that strive to meet higher standards of production and make use of skilled labour, processes and materials that are second to none. This is the ‘transparent’ fashion movement and, within it, Arnsdorf is setting huge precedents with Founder and Designer Jade Sarita Arnott at the helm. 

OJ: What is the Arnsdorf brand story?

JSA: Arnsdorf is a womenswear label based in Melbourne, Australia. Our mission is to create modern archetypal clothing for women of both style and purpose, while continually driving transparency across all levels of the fashion industry. We focus on sustainable fabrics and ethical manufacturing, reveal all costs associated with producing each garment, including the origin of all fabrics used, as well as the people who had a hand in bringing the garment to life, with the intention of leading the way for a new generation of well informed customers. Arnsdorf is a certified B Corporation as well as having an accreditation by Ethical Clothing Australia.


OJ: Who do you design for? Who is the Arnsdorf woman?

JSA: The Arnsdorf woman is one of style and purpose. She values both a garment’s aesthetics and style and equally important to her is the way the garment makes her feel. It needs to be aligned with her values, taking into consideration her own, the planet’s and everyone involved in the supply chain’s health and wellbeing. The Arnsdorf woman resides throughout the world, our clients are based mainly in Australia, North America and Europe.

OJ: I understand that you put the label on hold in 2012. Why was this? What changed to inspire a re-launch?

JSA: In 2012 I was questioning whether I wanted to be part of the fashion industry anymore. I had been operating in the traditional manner that a young designer usually travels, wholesaling to boutiques around the world and outsourcing manufacturing. I had relocated a few years prior to New York but still had an office in Melbourne and showed regularly at Australian Fashion Week in Sydney. We were producing the collection in New York, Australia and China and it was difficult to have total transparency over the conditions the machinists worked under. These unknown conditions, and being exposed to all of the waste produced as a result of the industry, was really beginning to take its toll on me. It didn’t make sense to me that collections would be delivered to stores at an inflated margin only to be marked down and reduced in 3 months time and lose their value and desirability.

I had recently become a mother and was reevaluating everything in my life and choosing where I placed my time and energies. I took some time off to raise my children and pursue other creative avenues like furniture design and photography that seemed at that time to have more longevity in the pieces. Eventually my love for clothing was reignighted when I was approached by New York label, Apiece Apart to consult on the introduction of their denim range. I was also working at a tech startup in NY that worked with artists and designers to produce a luxury subscription service for men. We were pushing the boundaries of customer service and were surrounded by our friends successful startups that had rewritten the rule book on how they could operate.


New York gave me the confidence to do things my own way and made me realise that I didn’t have to abide by the traditional ways of operating a business. The Rana Plaza collapse had a huge impact on me and I decided if I was ever going to return to manufacturing I wanted to have total control and visibility over my supply chain. This resulted in setting up our own factory so that everything could be made in-house and we could set the environment and working conditions for our machinists and work directly with them.   

OJ: In March this year Arnsdorf was awarded the National Designer Award for Sustainability at this years Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (congratulations!). This must have been a big push for encouraging more brands to adopt sustainable measures and believe that they are feasible and conducive to strong business growth. Do you think that operating as a transparent, locally manufactured brand with ethical measures is more difficult than it should be? If so, how can this ethos be better supported so more brands can operate in a similar way?

JSA: Yes, thank you! It was the first year that they awarded a designer for sustainability, so it was wonderful to see the industry getting behind this important issue. It really is something that needs to be considered by emerging brands to build into their foundations and for established brands to transition into more sustainable practices. It’s fundamental to the planet and climate and also to the survival of the fashion industry.
It’s difficult to change the culture of buying cheap, imported garments that have been made by exploiting workers but I think education is key in bringing awareness to the wider community. This is why we made the decision to be fully transparent about our pricing, with the hope to educate our consumers about what it actually costs to produce sustainably and ethically. Looking for third party accreditation such as ECA or B Corp can help people better navigate the landscape and find brands that have been proven to be doing good in the way they operate.


OJ: Arnsdorf’s aesthetic is timeless and classic. Very conducive to the notion that a garment can be trans-seasonal and economical in terms of cost-per-wear. Was that the notion behind the aesthetic? Or did the aesthetic define the ethos?

JSA: The aesthetic has been there from the beginning. It comes naturally from my own design aesthetic and style. The most interesting pieces to me are the ones that combine elements of classic archetypal design but bring something new to it, whether it’s cut in an unexpected fabric or detail. I think it’s important to make clothes that are useful, while still being strong and beautiful. It’s about having that perfect pair of suit trousers that have been tailored specifically for you.

We’ve worked really hard on perfecting our core range which provides the perfect foundation of a wardrobe. I’m really focused on continually improving these building blocks, including a well tailored suit, shirting or denim.

Then we have our seasonal collections which are more directional and work beautifully when combined with our classic core pieces. Before I studied fashion my background was in Art, so I’ve always carried that through in the way I approach design. When I relaunched Arnsdorf I was conscious of my intention to really ground the clothes in functionality. Clothes that could be worn to work and clothing you could spend time with your children in that are comfortable and easy to care for.

With huge thanks to Jade Sarita Arnott.

Interview composed and compiled by Tiffany Jade



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