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The Cause Brings Ethical Brands to Melbourne Spring Fashion Week

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Remember all those horror stories about sweatshops that have been coming to light recently? All the trouble that comes from our clothes being mass-produced through unethical avenues. Does it concern you? Well it concerns several emerging designers like The Cause, and they’ve made it their business to see change in the fashion world, launching emerging, sustainable brands this week during Melbourne Spring Fashion Week.

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Fifteen years ago in Brunswick, Sharmaine and Dale Cornell launched a now favourite brand New Model Beauty Queen. They own The Cause and have now extended their growing business into the basement of Causeway House on Little Collins Street.

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Dale (centre) is extremely passionate about his dream of providing ethical options for shoppers, as well as opportunity for up and coming designers who are too often overlooked. He says the idea came about because there were lots of designers doing the work but not having it pay off. The Cause gives them what is really difficult to come by in the fashion world: opportunity.

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He will proudly tell you that there is no minimum limit on orders and all clothes are sewn in the production rooms at this very venue, or their Brunswick venue. Designers also have the option of using the rooms to sew their own clothes.

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The Cause and their designers have nothing to be ashamed of in their production process, throwing open their doors and encouraging us all to look, ask questions and, of course, shop! Dale says, “It’s important to have a place where you can interact with the product.” Consumers are sure to find this refreshing with the growing online shopping craze. Dale wants to turn this into a leading location for independent designers in Melbourne.

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The runway was a light-hearted event, featuring an extensive variety of models—another thing that makes The Cause stand out. Model Lisa Langman says, “They celebrate women of all shapes and sizes. All women are beautiful.” She is a loyal customer of The Cause and was invited to be part of the show after meeting Dale a month ago.

All of the models were incredibly engaged during the show, obviously having fun with the runway and not taking themselves too seriously. What a nice change to see personalities instead of all frowns!

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The night featured seven designers in total, each with their own flavour.

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New Model Beauty Queen (NMBQ)

Coco and Max

Designed In Brunswick 

Jenny Robinson Creative Design


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From geometric shapes, bold designs and seasonal colours to superbly simple designs and political activism (below), the runway had variety as well as depth. Marketing and design director, Betty Musgrove, says that their aim is to get young designers thinking ethically.

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The show had a lively atmosphere created by a five-piece indie band called Dear Plastic who are fans of the The Cause and their brands.

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One of The Cause’s main models Lauren Bradley, who is known on Instagram as Lucky Dip Burlesque, thinks that word of mouth is still the most powerful advertising and says, “I think it’s really important for women to be represented.” Representation and integrity are key themes of this brand, and NMBQ is one of the select few brands operating with an Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) accreditation with The Cause in support.

The Cause and their growing number of designers are bringing a breath of fresh air to Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and leading the way into sustainable branding and what Dale hopes will be the future of Australian fashion.