Alex Dash is making her mark with Shapes In The Sand.
Shapes In The Sand has firmly cemented itself in the ethical and sustainable fashion industry. Everything Alex does with Shapes In The Sand, from the fabric used for the designs to the inspiration behind each collection, is done with the environment in mind, and we are in absolute awe of this epic founder.
What made you start SHAPES IN THE SAND?
Shapes in the Sand started its journey in my final year studying Fashion Design in Sydney in 2012. Swimwear design has always been my favourite area of the fashion industry and it was in my final year that I wanted to draw attention to new technology eco fabrications that were very new to the industry. During this time I thought that this could be a solution for the many environmental problems that the industry causes and this was the very beginning of the journey to Sustainably Shaping Swimwear. Shapes in the Sand has always had a very playful, nature inspired aesthetic which comes from my personal style and way of life. I am a nature girl that loves camping and spending time in the natural world. It inspires collections and has always been an integral part of the label.
Do you have a morning routine? If so, what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
I live on Sydney’s far northern beaches, you could say waking up to the sound of the Kookaburra’s is part of my routine! We have bush tracks that lead down to the beach that I love taking morning walks on followed by a soy cappuccino!
What’s the biggest barrier you’ve found to succeeding as a socially conscious business?
I would have to say one of the biggest barriers would have been making sure that every step involved from the sourcing right through to distribution is done in the most responsible and environmentally friendly way possible. One area has been eliminating plastic packaging in all areas of the business in-house, business to customer and supplier to business. Every season I improve and continue to implement exciting new ways to replace plastic items used in the industry. In 2017 I developed a water soluble hygiene liner made from wood pulp and non toxic inks to replace the thick plastic ones used in the industry. This year I signed the Global Commitment to help continue eliminate plastic packaging at the source. Finding a suitable maker also took a little time and keeping manufacturing close to home has been a big plus for Shapes in the Sand. Having an Australian made label was very important to me too. When I first began looking I was still studying and it was incredibly exhausting, many being hidden. I have an honest working relationship with my maker of 5 years.I can proudly say collections are responsibly made and there’s also that quality assurance.
Within the ethical fashion community, there’s a big question that we ask which is ‘who made my clothes?’. In the scope of SHAPES IN THE SAND, who made the things you sell? Can you tell us a bit about them?
Yes! Shapes in the Sand swimwear is made in Sydney by a small family run business who specialise in stretch wear. They’ve been in the industry for over 30 years. I have built a very honest relationship with Raymond who is the owner. He is from a Vietnamese background and with his wife he has 2-3 other employees depending on the season. Raymond has taught me many important aspects of the industry and without him the label wouldn’t be where it is today! I’m always willing and happy to talk about my manufacturer as I’m very proud to have them part of my brand.
Why did you pick the fabrics you have chosen to work with?
New technology eco fabrications have been part of Shapes in the Sand from the very beginning. It was in my final year of studying Fashion Design that I wanted to draw attention to these incredible fabrications. I chose to implement these kinds of fabrics into the label because I wanted to create designs that were not only innovative but also had a low impact on the environment, supporting a circular economy and/or a solution to the damage the clothing industry has on the planet. Econyl has been the primary source for collections from 2014 to present. This nylon yarn is derived from items including discarded ghost nets found at the bottom of the ocean, helping to clean up oceans as plastic items heading to landfill. This season I have introduced an industry first. A new bio-based fabric derived from castor beans. A totally renewable resource that has zero compromised between the environment and performance. In saying this when I choose fabrics for the collections I keep in mind that sustainable for my brand doesn’t just mean regenerated fabrics. The fabrics I use need to be strong, durable and practical. Fabrics that are going to compliment my quality assured manufacturing, to ensure swimwear is going to last for seasons to come.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
“Never change your originality for the sake of others because no one can play your role better than you.”
What’s next for you and SHAPES IN THE SAND?
Shapes in the Sand has just recently moved into a brand new studio, marking a new chapter for the label that will support the growth of the business. This month Shapes in the Sand will be stocked in a new store opening in California and Part 2 of the recently launched Pisces collection will be out in October…stay tuned! For this collection, we’ve partnered with Shark conservationist Madison Stewart in support of her current Project Hiu. An initiative that is improving the livelihoods of an Indonesian shark fishing community and at the same time protecting sharks.
One book and/or documentary everyone should read/watch? Why?
Blue. It’s a must see marine conservation film that will take you deep into the depths of the ocean drawing attention to the destruction it’s facing. Greenpeace Australia couldn’t have said it better in their review “BLUE is a cinematic song for our oceans; beautiful, intimate and grand. Fearlessly truth-telling, yet passionately hopeful. See this film and you will want to rise up with the waves.”
Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?
Science communicator and climate activist, Laura Wells, is someone you should be following if you aren’t already. She is a fantastic role model.