Dorsu - Ethically Made Women's And Men's Clothing

Dorsu

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Location

Australia

Made In

Kampot, Cambodia

Values

  • BIPOC BIPOC
  • Fair Fair
  • Gender Equality Gender Equality
  • Give Back Give Back
  • Made Locally Made Locally
  • Vegan Vegan

Dorsu is a brand that’s providing quality basics, but there’s absolutely nothing basic about them. Dorsu’s making the process of purchasing consciously easy and they’re making their customers look fabulous whilst doing it. With a strong commitment to transparency and socially and environmentally friendly practising, Dorsu is firmly within the ethical and sustainable fashion world, and for this, our wardrobes are extremely grateful.

Dorsu believes that buying clothes that have been made fairly does not mean you have to sacrifice on design. All of their garments are both designed and made in-house in Kampot, Cambodia; they design, pattern make, sample, cut, sew, and package their products all under the same production studio roof. The dedication to design is reflected in the quality of their garments, and so too is the passion that every team member has for the work they are doing.

“Imagine a world where clothing isn’t seen as disposable and where ethical production isn’t seen as charity. ”

– Dorsu

Because of their disbelief in mass consumerism and mass production, and their dedication to creating timeless basics, Dorsu ensures their garments can be mixed and matched to suit the customer’s individualised taste. What makes their clothing so special, however, is how the fabrics used to make them are sourced. Dorsu is extremely aware of the negative impacts the fashion industry has on all aspects of our society, whether it’s ethical or environmental, so they choose to use remnant fabrics to create their products. Here’s why: 

“As a result of Cambodia’s pervasive garment manufacturing industry and issues that occur along the fashion industry’s incredibly complex supply chain, vast amounts of fabric are deemed unusable by brands on a daily basis. This waste arises due to reasons such as incorrect or oversupply of cloth, last minute changes in production schedules and the ever-increasing need for brands to be immediately responsive and adaptive to fashion trends.”

Garment manufacturing is one of the most environmentally destructive industries on the planet and this is why Dorsu choose to utilise remnant fabric: the leftover, unused or unwanted rolls of fabric that are still in their original condition. Using this kind of fabric means that there is an inability to trace its true origins (this transparency is evident on Dorsu’s website), but it also works in everyone’s favour: the limited amount of fabrics and colours result in small production runs, which ultimately means that every Dorsu piece is part of a controlled and unique amount.

Transparency is a common theme with companies committed to ethical and sustainable practices and it’s become obvious that Dorsu is no different. It’s no wonder that the incredible Megan and Gab from Walk. Sew. Good used them for their custom printed apparel! Dorsu work extremely hard to provide their staff with a safe and fair working environment, and their website provides information about these employment conditions to anybody who wants to know. Here’s the gist:

·      Employment:  Fair contracts and working hours, living wages and extensive leave packages

·      Safety:  Safety training, operations and safety policies adhered to and quality equipment maintenance

·    Well-being: An inclusive, supportive and constructive work culture and environment

If you haven’t already gotten the vibe, Dorsu is a company that’s challenging the conventional approach to today’s fashion industry by weaving integrity into every aspect of their individual processes. So if you’re in need of some great basics that don’t cost the planet or the people who make them, Dorsu is basically your one-stop-shop (no pun intended).

Want to know where Dorsu sits and what they’re working on in terms of these 5 values? Hover over these values to find out.

Behind the Brand

“We are just so lucky, I am constantly pinching myself regarding the businesses that we’re working with and what we achieve together”.

Hanna Guy

What made you start Dorsu?

My Co-Founder, Kunthear, and I started Dorsu as a small community-focused business selling mostly to tourists in Kampot, Cambodia. We grew the business organically, then six years ago we decided to expand. We had built a strong team and saw the growing demand for more transparency and quality in the fashion industry, not only here in Cambodia, but overseas as well. We completely restructured our business model and focused on building an approachable and progressive company. Now, we’re striving to be a voice that’s changing the fashion industry.

What is something others wouldn’t know about creating an ethical business that you think they should?

Supply chains are incredibly complex. There’s a lot happening behind the scenes to ensure our customers receive their clothing, seamlessly. There is a difficult disconnect between the theoretical sustainable operation of supply chains and actually making that happen.

What has been the most challenging thing you have uncovered since the beginning?

Exposure to the true issues of mass-manufacturing industries and garment production in Cambodia is very confronting. It has challenged me personally, particularly my ideas of right and wrong and inherent privilege of even having the capacity to be confronted by the greater system. It sometimes fires me up and sometimes leaves me feeling defeated, it’s just so multifaceted and complex.

Within the ethical fashion community, there’s a big question we ask which is ‘who made my clothes?’. In the scope of Dorsu, who made your clothes? 

A diverse team of skilled individuals. The majority of our team are Cambodian and local to Kampot, varying in age and experience in the garment industry. We then have team members hailing from Australia, The USA and UK. Everyone works together to create an experience for our customers, allowing them to know who made their clothes and under what conditions.

Best piece of advice you have ever received?

Rest. You can’t do everything yourself. Look at the level at which you are working and if it would be much more effective if you rested.

I’m bringing this up for this feature intentionally. I think it’s really important in the social business, sustainable fashion, entrepreneurial space to look at the way in which we work when our work is so important to us. We all often start with such little resources that we do everything and I’ve done a pretty terrible job of looking after myself. It’s a lesson I’ve learned very late and keep learning the hard way. Hopefully, someone reading this can think about it earlier than I did.

One tip you’d give to others who are wanting to start their own business?

Try to find a balance between a well-researched plan and being adaptable. Some of our greatest successes have happened because we responded to an opportunity that we hadn’t necessarily seen coming, however, we’ve also ended up in a few messes through not thinking things through clearly in the beginning and following a strategy.

Oh – and record your finances from the beginning, no matter how small they are, it’s much harder to set those processes up retroactively.

Where do you envision Dorsu in the future?

So many places! We’re charging forward with our in-house label and also producing customised merchandise for some insanely awesome companies across the world. Our focus this year is to strengthen our industry voice and create a greater impact through working with clients and partners passionate about investing in sustainable supply chains. We’re very excited about the development of sustainable fabrics and I hope that you will see some very interesting product development in Dorsu’s near future. So many things on the list!

What or who inspires you to do what you do on a daily basis?

My Co-Founder Kunthear’s authenticity is inspiring, I love working with her and she is a living example for so many Cambodian women.

Our partners and customers also constantly impress me. Their passion, drive and follow through is energising – we are just so lucky, I am constantly pinching myself regarding the businesses that we’re working with and what we achieve together.

Do you have a morning routine? If so, what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?

My best days are those that I can start slowly in my home with exercise, breakfast, coffee, looking over the day and getting ahead on my work. In all honesty, though many days it’s a win just getting out the door. I try my best to set my days up before they start, most of the time it creates resilience to all of the unexpected things that pop-up.

One book everyone should read? Why?

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard is one I always return to. I greatly admire Chouinard’s determination in pioneering ethics and sustainability in his products and his company operations. I relate greatly to his admittance of being a reluctant businessman and find the book very inspiring and a confirmation to go one’s own way.

Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?

The Social Outfit in Sydney are stellar. Their products are gorgeous and I love their business model. I am so often saddened by the state of Australian politics and the government’s commentary on refugees and asylum seekers. The Social Outfit smash that stigma- celebrating independence, equality and creativity.

I’m also very inspired by companies who appear unrelated to the garment industry but are doing their part to change it. We’ve been working with Atlassian for many years now, if a tech company can be passionate about sourcing their clothing fairly, anyone can!

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