From Apprentice Carpenter to Leading Handbag Designer: Bens Story

When I first came across the brand Charlie Middleton, my heart started racing. I KNEW they had to be a part of the Hawkins& Co collection, it was everything we stand for – Beautiful, timeless, sophisticated, elegant, and handmade in Bondi!

I really want the Hawkins & Co readers to get to know the designers behind our brands, and one designer in particular is quite intriguing – Ben Thompson:

Hi Ben, lets start with a question I am incredibly curious about: Where did the name Charlie Middleton come from?

It’s a little embarrassing to be honest. When I first started this label, I was already designing and producing 2 other clothing labels, so I needed a new name, and Charlie Middleton had been one of my Hotmail addresses since the nineties, so I thought “it’s a great name, I’ll use that”.

The embarrassing bit is that the name came from my childhood dog Charlie, and the street I was living in at the time Middleton St.

Little did I know that a few years later it would become the main label, and I would find myself explaining that on a regular basis.  (editor: I am still giggling about this!)

Is handbag design and crafting something you have always done? Can you tell us a little bit about your background.

It’s been a slow journey to get to where I am now, and no doubt it was not the field I thought I would end up in when starting out as an apprentice carpenter all those years ago.

As a child I was very interested in inventing and making things; From helping my dad build stuff around the house, or wanting to have a go when mum was sewing something.

Add that to the skills I gained as a carpenter, and I had developed a skill-set, that enabled me very quickly learn how to make something, regardless of the medium I was working in.

Despite doing non creative jobs for a few years, the making bug did not leave me, and in about 2003, I decided to start a little clothing label.

I mainly focused on Tees, sweats and denim, but after a few years, I wanted to add to the range, so I learnt how to make a men’s belt, and I really enjoyed the process.

Jump forward a couple of years and I hand-making lots of mens belt, but was regularly being asked by customers for softer more malleable belts for women that could be worn on the waist.

Eventually, I listened, and with that Charlie Middleton was born.

What are three words do you think best describe Charlie Middleton?

Quality, Simplicity and functionality.

Can you tell us a little bit about your philosophy around the colours you choose to incorporate into the collections? Particularly the bespoke totes? 

The bespoke tote did not start out with any grand plan to offer it in the forty leathers we do now, it started with a single sample, and then five or six totes in black, navy and grey.

Those sold immediately, so I made more and quickly used up all the suitable leathers I had lying around the workshop.

I was then buying up any nice cowhide leathers I could find, but they were very often in limited supply, so I started searching the globe for tanneries that could produce amazing leathers.

We now source from Japan, Italy, Germany, brazil and New Zealand to name a few.

The evolution of the colour range was very much a product of this process, as we would sometimes take whichever colours the tanneries had in stock and if those colours worked for us, we would get them top repeat them and they would become a permanent part of the range.

We offer every leather option for all the totes, but have to limit ourselves when it comes to clutches, so those are only available in around seven colours each. (all with a choice of Silver, Gold or Rose gold of course).

Do you have a favourite product in the current collection?

I currently really like the “Weekend Clutch” as a piece of design, however it is also selling very well, so that no doubt skews my objectiveness when it comes my opinion 🙂


Can you share with us what a ‘normal’ day looks like for you?

It used to be just me toiling away everyday, but now I am very lucky to have the amazing Margaux and Mathilde to help with the making.

That frees me up so I can now spend half my time working on the products, and the rest on the business side of things

What else do you enjoy doing outside of the design studio / warehouse?

My two passions aside from making things are Surfing and Basketball, however the unfortunate realities of running a small business means that they often get pushed to the side.

Anything exciting on the horizon for Charlie Middleton you can share with us?

We have a few new products in the pipeline, but the ones I am most excited about are the Mens and Ladies wallets we will have ready in the next month or so.

It is extremely rare to find a proper wallet with all the card slots and pockets that’s actually handmade in Sydney, so we have had to work very hard to develop it, but we’re almost there, and we can’t wait!

The magic of Linen

I have always loved the way men and women look in crisp, white linen – there is something very sophisticated, and yet fresh and youthful about the stiff, billowy fabric.

Linen is a natural fibre (similar to cotton or bamboo) which is extracted from the stalk of a flax plant. Thanks to the weave and linen fibre specifics, linen fabric allows more airflow and it’s structure means it stays away from your skin allowing better airflow over your body. Another nice feeling one can have when wearing linen dress, linen blouse or any other piece of linen clothing is the body free of moisture.

But my all time favourite part of having Linen in my wardrobe? The more it is used and washed the softer it gets. It’s also extremely durable and can last decades when cared for correctly.

So, at a glance the benefits of linen are:
• Durability, linen is 30% stronger than cotton
• Extremely absorbent
• Hypo-allergenic
• Breathable
• Structurally sound fibre so products keep their shape
• Environmentally friendly – the flax plant requires less water and chemicals to be cultivated.

There are two outstanding Hawkins & Co Brands that do linen like no other:

FROCKK – Frockk began in Bronte, Sydney in 2010 as a gorgeous little boutique in a seaside suburb with many lovely labels, including a small line of our own designs. And it just grew from there! 7 years later, they have opened 3 stores in Bali, and a flagship store in Perth.

The Frockk aesthetic is based on using ONLY natural fabrics such as 100% linens, cottons and silks.
They favour muted natural tones,  greens, blues, soft pinks, and of course white!
Sourcing only the very best Linen, they pre soften and wash every garment before it gets to you.


BON Label – Established in 2016 by Linda Smyth, Bon is ethical, sustainable, luxe essentials for women. Starting, but not ending, with a good tee…Bon is french for good and goodness is at the heart of the business.

There’s no space for fast fashion in the ‘unfuckupable’ wardrobe (Lynda’s Term!).  It’s not about excess, just quality essentials which are designed well, made well and made to last. Pieces which work in lots of different ways, made with care and respect for people and the planet – That is the essence of Bon Label!

So there you have it! Personally, I have really gotten into Linen this summer and my favourite go-to’s have been the Annika top, Jessie Pants and Linen Sun Dress… They have all washed and worn beautifully, fitted in with my existing wardrobe with out issue, AND I haven’t ever been stuck for an outfit on a 30 + degree day!

This is my little girl and I cutting her birthday cake – I am in the Annika top in Dusty Pink.

(33 degrees and high humidity in December in Sydney!)


Is it time to review your most intimate relationship?

Do you want to know the quickest way to feel organised, revived and ready to tackle the new year?

Do you want to define your style and ensure your best friend is the best reflection of you?

It’s really very simple…

You need to review your handbag.

I think you need a tote.

And I think you need to organise it!


Women and their handbags have a bond like no other. We hug them on our lap, put them on chairs next to us at cafes, they come into bathrooms, on dates, into hospital delivery suites, on overseas holidays and everywhere in-between.

We don’t forget them. We don’t lose them. We NEED them.

The relationship we have with our hand bag is one of total dependence. So the selection of your new partner in crime needs to be a considered one… and there are three very good reasons to go for a tote:

  1. Timelessness.
  2. Sophistication.
  3. Practicality.

Enough said.


Here are a few of my favourites from the Hawkins & Co showcase for 2018:

The CHARLIE MIDDLETON Bespoke tote – These bags are tough, roomy and buttery soft. Oh, and YES, you can choose the colour of the bag, the handles and the hardware, and have the exact tote you want! Can it possibly get better than this? Oh yes, it can – these totes are made by hand right here in Bondi!

(We will be interviewing Charlie Middletons master craftsman Ben Thompson in coming weeks… one not to be missed!)


NIKKI WILLIAMS Hampton Nappa Tote – Ultra luxurious leather tote with a little more structure and featuring a suede lining and two internal pockets (these pockets will protect your sunglasses from being scratched and keeps your phone and wallet in easy reach), it’s roomy enough for your iPad or laptop and a change of shoes! Designed to soften over time, so it will get better with age… like most things…


WILLOW BAY Lux Leather Tote Bag – With a removable washable insert its never been easier to keep the inside of your handbag clean. This tote is a lovely cross between the top two – practical, chic, slightly structured whilst maintaining some structure inside.

WILLOW BAY Neoprene Tote – I have one word: Washable. For the mother of toddlers, that word is exciting, especially when it’s describing a stylish, lightweight, roomy and practical handbag. It may not be a ‘forever bag’ but as a baby bag, gym bag, beach bag or uni bag, it is PERFECT!

ORGANISE your tote:

My biggest tip to stop your tote from ending up a Mary Poppins carpet bag is to have some smaller bags within your tote.

Small make up bags or wristlets are ideal.

BUT – The big commitment to Tote ownership comes in the evening, when you get home. You would be wise to make it a habit for 5 minutes to clean out your bag. Remove receipts, coins, your toddlers empty sultana box, business cards collected, pens, parking tickets, and anything you don’t need for the next day.

So there you have it! New year, new style, one bag, all occasions – which one is right for you?

Now it’s time to go out there and welcome 2018 with the most organised, effortless and motivated version of you.

With your new best friend.


PS. Want to know what is inside my tote?!

I have a small make up bag in my tote that holds 3-4 lip balms, a comb, spare mascara and a few hair ties / clips. I also carry a very small container with my flash drives (for work).

In the internal pockets of my tote I carry tampons (don’t we all?!) and my daughters epi-pen, my Phone and my keys. I also have my purse and sunglasses in the tote everyday.

Because I have compartmentalised the bag, everything is easy to find! It also means that I can throw in a snack, drink bottle and small box of tissues in the morning and I am ready to go.







The Hawkins & Co WHY…

‘So, tell me, why did you start Hawkins & Co?’

‘Oh, ummm… well…’ (My goodness, where do I start?!)

It was a well meaning question, asked over a glass of champagne and a bbq dinner one night just before the New Year. But it was a question I hadn’t been asked before. I, of course, know my reasons backwards. I had spent many long nights discussing my reasons for starting Hawkins & Co with my husband, and I know how passionate I am about the business and what it can do / is doing for customers and designers… but I hadn’t had to actually articulate it to someone else yet!

The truth is, the answer is not so straight forward.

I started Hawkins & Co because:

  1. I love clothes… I love them a lot. I don’t love fashion – I love style, and I love clothes. I love the way a soft clean cotton shirt can make you feel fresh. I love the way a favourite pair of jeans can slip on like they are made for you, or an oversized jumper can wrap you up like a big hug. I love the way clothes can come to you with their own story, and become a part of your story. I love the way clothes trigger memories, make occasions special, and provide comfort.
  2. I’m passionate about supporting local. Anyone that knows me professionally, as a dietitian, knows that I am very big on eating and recommending locally sourced, seasonal produce. I am the same as a stylist. We are SO lucky to live in a country with so many wonderfully talented designers, and when they start their own labels, they really reflect the Australian lifestyle – lots of clean, fresh lines, easy and minimalist designs. The fabrics are just gorgeous – Australian wool, organic cottons, linen, silk and leather. There is something very special about knowing the story behind the clothes in your wardrobe, and knowing you are supporting a fellow Australian.
  3. I believe in fair. The collapse of the Rana Plaza building in 2013 and the subsequent reports and investigations into the ‘fast fashion’ industry, absolutely horrified me. I grew up in Asia and have travelled extensively and it makes my stomach turn when I see this footage. All Hawkins & Co labels are either manufactured in Australia or under strictly regulated conditions overseas, and everyone along the way is respected, valued and paid appropriately. I wanted to create a space where people can trust the quality and the ethics behind the labels.
  4. Less really IS more! This is something I grew into as I got older – having less, but having good quality. Having a cashmere jumper and a pair of wool pants which are loved, cared for an worn for 4 winter seasons, to me, is just lovely. Knowing exactly what is in your wardrobe, knowing it is your style, and knowing what you want to wear everyday takes the stress out of the mornings, gives you confidence and helps you plan, budget for, and really enjoy the clothing you own! I love the concept of capsule wardrobes, slow fashion and an overall care and commitment to owning less and using it more.

So with these reasons rattling around in my head for a few years, and some down time whilst enjoying my daughters first year of life – Hawkins & Co was born! A real passion project, which has taken off in the last 6 months and received wonderful feedback, support and encouragement from all those involved…

I’m so encouraged to see change is occurring in how people choose to spend their money on clothing. From observation and conversation in the past few years, I can see women around me starting to think more about style and less about fashion, more about quality and less about quantity – Both these things can’t help but lead to less cluttered, happier and more confident women an THAT is ultimately why I started Hawkins & Co.


Fashion Vs Style – Why style will always win.

Dr Ruth Quibell is a sociologist who writes articles for publications such as The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. 

Dr Quibell suggests that we may wish to “… strengthen our social selves, our character, rather than simply letting our uniforms do the talking. To do this, we might avoid fashion for a while – to experiment with style, rather than what’s “now”.”

Amen to that Dr Quibell!

You see, fashion is commercial. It’s ever changing, and no matter how much you try, you’ll never keep up. You’re not meant to keep up. Fashion is an evolutionary art, and certainly not for everyday.

Style however, is innately you. Once you’ve found a way of dressing that feels like you, you need to embrace that. Your style should feel comfortable and easy. It should feel like an extension of your personality.

Your style doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler the better!

Personally, my ‘go-to’ most days is a pair of skinny jeans and oversize blouse, shirt or tee. I also love organic cotton tee-shirt dresses, linen pants, leather slides, sandals and espadrilles. In winter I love chunky scarves. I like wearing white, black, grey, navy, blush and beige. There you have it – my style. Simple.

Not everyone’s style needs to be as plain as mine. Some people LOVE red shoes, some wear drop earrings and chunky necklaces and some enjoy high heels.

Style will always win over fashion for the simple reason that fashion is your relationship to the external, whilst your style is your relationship to the internal.

Fashion is simply a trend. You need to purchase the latest fashion item and then match yourself to the clothing. Basically, you need to disregard your intrinsic sense of style in order to constantly wear what is the ‘latest trend’.

Your style, on the other hand, is about wearing clothing that are authentically you. It’s an extension of the internal and something considered, simple and seemingly effortless… when a woman is ‘stylish’, it just works!

You can take advice and tips from a stylist, but only you know what clothes make you truly feel like you.

Once you recognise your style it will feel easy, and there is only one thing left to do – Wear it, own it, shop it, enjoy it!

Be unapologetically you. Always.





Our ultimate Christmas gift guide – For every woman in your life!

Yes, it IS that time of year again! And if you want to shop local, support Australian labels and small business, then you need to be organised even earlier to get your orders in with plenty of time!

So here we go – something for every woman in your life, as well as a little something for you! (Simply click on the photos to shop!)

Your Mother:

Kerala Necklace

Timeless, elegant, stunning statement piece. Handcrafted in Sydney and available as sterling silver or 22K gold plated sterling silver.


Harriett Saddle Bag

The Harriet saddle bag is crafted from luxurious hardwearing suede. Decorated with signature braided leather a faux gold clasp, the unique mini-style is a subtle twist on classic saddle styles. The fabric-lined interior has plenty of room for your phone, card holder and keys. Your mum will simply LOVE it in tan or black!

Mother in Law:

Eve Studs

Simple, subtle, timeless… Sterling silver (925) with Argentium silver (935) posts.


Cable knit Snood

This snood, or infinity scarf, is the cosiest item you could ever have in your wardrobe! Perfect for those cold winter days.


Caviette fold over clutch

You can’t go wrong with a black clutch, especially when it’s made from butter soft Italian leather. The ultimate understated accessory this black clutch optimises a refined classic style. Perfect for your favourite sister!


Weekend Jarmies

We love Christmas and we LOVE Christmas pyjamas!  These super cute ruby-red striped beauties will put your sister in the spirit of the season, and then keep her merry and bright well into the summer holidays.

Best Friend:

Grey Marle Neoprene Tote

A gorgeous bag with a zip close internal pocket for your keys and/or phone this bag will help keep your best girlfriend organised and very stylish.


Provence Nightshirt

Cut from our soft and breathable organic jersey cotton, the Provence nightshirt has a  feminine dress style fit. A dreamy outfit for your bestie and an alternative for lazy weekend mornings.


Striped Deep V Tee

A style staple, this light weight organic cotton v neck tee is our top selling t-shirts. Your sister-in-law will be able to wear 7 days a week with everything from blue denim to sleek, chic pencil skirts.


Flamingo Shorts

Super cute Flamingo Sleep Shorts – cool and comfortable to wear to bed or for lounging around the house. She will thank you later!

And now, a little something for you?

Coco Dress – for Christmas Day

The Coco dress is made from premium embroider cotton and features a tucked sleeves, back zip closure and scooped neckline. This dress is fully lined. Understated and stunning.


Daisy Dress – for Boxing Day

Beautifully soft organic cotton, crew neckline, stepped scooped hem with slight side split and side pockets.
This dress is a timeless classic, relaxed fit and PERFECT with tan slides for a lazy boxing day with family and friends.

Enjoy your shopping and MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! 

Ethical, Sustainable, Modern, Relaxed…. and proudly Indecisive!

Maggie is incredible. She not only is she the designer… but makes the clothes as well. If that is not enough her brand, Indecisive, uses fabric is 100% recycled. Even their organic bamboo is someone else left overs!

For a brand that is truly special and unique, you cant go past Indecisive. I feel so lucky to have Maggie and Anthony as a part of the Hawkins & Co family.

Hi Maggie, first of all, can you tell us how you decided on the name Indecisive?

We spent so much time researching and trying to figure out what kind of designs we wanted to create, what kind of label we wanted to be and so on – besides knowing we would be sustainable we were totally Indecisive about everything else. I guess that kind of just stuck.

What are three words do you think best describe your brand?

Modern, relaxed, sustainable.

Have you always been a designer? What lead you to designing Womens clothes?

I think it is a very intuitive thing for me, I used to sell and make PJ’s and have always loved sewing since I was little. Making women’s clothing was something I have always dreamed of doing. It just speaks to me; I can’t imagine ever doing anything else or loving anything as much.

Can you tell us a little bit about your use of recycled material?

So all of our fabric is recycled, even our organic bamboo is someone else left overs. The reason why we do this is to minus our environmental impact and so that we do not currently have any dying/fabric making in our process. I also love having limited items and think that because we make them in house and there are only as little as 10 of some items it makes them so much more special.

How often do you introduce newness into your ranges?

We have two collections a year – which we release in intervals.

Tell us a bit about the manufacturing of your clothes, they are made in NSW aren’t they? Do you have much of a hands on role?

All of our products are made on the South Coast of NSW, by a few people. I design and make the first of, then cut them and give them to our seamstresses to sew, and leave finishes in their very capable hands. We keep one of every size in stock and then make to replace once sold, if we get super busy I also make items. I guess because I have/am a seamstress also I understand all that is involved, we are working towards being one of the largest manufactures in Australia. Our seamstresses are awesome and really take a lot of pride in their work, as do we, I feel very lucky that we have found such great people, with such great skills to work with.

What else do you enjoy doing outside of the design studio?

Thinking about the design studio! Haha! Indecisive is very much who we are. We also live super close to the beach and love taking our dog for long walks, watching Netflix and hanging out with our family, having pizza nights, you know – just normal things J


Anything exciting on the horizon for Indecisive you can share with us?

We are growing (yay) we are just super happy and proud of what we are creating and enjoying the organic growth at the moment, we feel like we have gotten to a point where we are happy with how we are progressing and just enjoying the series of small wins that come our way and the people that we are able to connect with.

We are also starting to manufacture for other emerging labels which is really exciting for us. (Editor – We think it is exciting for the fashion industry too Maggie, you are clearly incredibly talented with an amazing team!)


SABRINA JIANG – The incredible woman behind Cashmerism

Sabrina Jiang is completely beautiful inside and out. She is clever, generous of her time and truly passionate about her trade. This was one of those interviews that you wish you would keep going as you just know her history is deep and the stories will continue to inspire.

This gorgeous mother of an ‘almost one year old’ is full of life and love. She describes her brand as embracing, heart-warming and timeless… she may as well be describing herself!

Hi Sabrina, first of all, can you tell us a bit more about your love affair with cashmere? How did it start?

Hi Kathryn, it is a pleasure to be sharing my story with Hawkins & Co readers. I was born to a family that has produced and cherished cashmere for over 30 years, so my love and passion for cashmere is in my blood and bones. Ever since I can remember, cashmere has been there for me, a faithful companion through all seasons, through growth, and through the ups and downs of life. Cashmere became even closer to me about 20 years ago when I came to Melbourne to live and study by myself, its soft and gentle warmth always made me feel at home. Whenever Melbourne’s infamously unpredictable weather took a cooler turn I’d bury my nose in its softness and my cashmere scarves and jumpers never fail to make me feel cozy, content and safe.

Because of the oh so heavenly soft nature of cashmere, when wearing them, they have always been conversation starters, and they made every hug and cuddle last longer.

To me cashmere is not merely a material or garment, but a philosophy and a way of life that is deeply rooted in my mind and soul.

What are three words do you think best describe your brand?

Embracing, heart-warming, timeless.

Have you always been a designer?

I was an Architectural designer before CASHMERISM was founded, and it has formed a foundation from which I could utilise architecture design aesthetic and inspirational contemporary Melbourne culture to influence our Cashmere knitwear and accessories designs. With a strong and cherished family history in the cultivation and creation of exquisite cashmere I have always knew it is my destiny to continue making cashmere wear with best quality and ever evolving designs.

Can you tell us a little bit about your philosophy around the colours you choose to incorporate into the collections?

Each Cashmerism garment is designed with 4 key elements in mind, practicality, aesthetic, luxury and affordability to make sure each collection series of our clothing and accessories are like no other.

Thanks to  strong family support, I am able to jump out side of the box of the colours people usually see in cashmere garments, in Cashmerism collection you will see colours that are always elegant but with a hint of surprise. Soft, supple, cosy and snug, whether a pair of mittens, the warmth of a shawl, or the luxury of a pure cashmere overcoat, Cashmerism is an uncompromising, accessible wardrobe staple.

How often do you introduce newness into your ranges?

We have 2 collections each year, Autumn winter and Spring Summer, from time to time we also introduce capsule collections featuring special limited edition designs like collaboration projects with local artists.

With local artist Chrysa Koukoura holding our collaboration piece the Ink Print travel wrap.

Can you tell us a bit bout your recent trip to your factory? Do you have much of a hands on role when it comes to manufacturing?

I travel in between the factory and Melbourne a lot, I mainly stay at the factory during production time to make sure sizings are accurate, quality is impeccable, and I spend time with our technicians as we constantly inspire each other. This trip I am also working with technicians from all department trying to release a most efficient, economical, easy and healthy way of cashmere care instruction for our customers, including how to wear, wash, dry, store, de-pill and revive a cashmere garment so that it stays in its best condition all the time.

What else do you enjoy doing outside of the design studio?

Spending as much time as I can with my little one who is turning 1 soon! I am also developing a baby cashmere range…

Anything exciting on the horizon for Cashmerism you can share with us?

Yes, but it is still a work in progress, we will share with our dear H&Co followers as soon its ready!

Cashmerism SS 17 is out and it is stunning!

Here are the editors picks – Each piece is sophisticated and workable, and will be with you for years to come.


The dynamic duo behind Willow Bay Australia

Have you ever sat with a friend over cocktails and came up with an AMAZING idea for a business? Well, that is exactly what these busy mums and close friends, Hayley and Tammy did – and a short time later Willow Bay was born!
This week they tell us a bit more about the brand as our featured designers, which coincides perfectly with the Launch of their LUXE LEATHER TOTES! Woo hoo, is there anything these two cant do?
Hi Girls, first of all, can you tell us a bit about Willow Bay? Why did you start with Neoprene Bags?
We created Willow Bay with a vision of creating not just a range of products, but a brand. We are very big on customer service and we treat each and every one of our customers with the utmost importance. Our emphasis is on quality, innovation & our customers.
We absolutely love how versatile neoprene fabric is. It’s a very workable fabric and the fact that its washable makes it a very practical choice.
We love that you are in this together…. how did your partnership start?
We have known each other for over 10 years. Our husbands have been best mates since they were teenagers so that is how we met one another. We had an idea to start Willow Bay over cocktails one night 🙂
What are three words do you think best describe your brand?
Heartfelt, Fresh, Exciting.
Can you tell us a little bit about your philosophy around the colours/patterns you choose to incorporate into the collections?
We take on board the philosophy that everyone is different. We therefore try to think outside the square with our colours, patterns and shapes to ensure there is something for everyone.
We take a classic shape or style and modify it to have a bit of an edge. Our collections are diverse, fresh and always changing… we draw continual inspiration from the world of fashion.
What do you both enjoy outside of the design studio?
Hayley: We both love good food and good wine! That’s where most of our ideas evolve from! I love spending time with my gorgeous family (my hubby, kids & our extended families) and good friends of course – over a meal or doing something adventurous outdoors.
Tammy: Yes I 100% agree with Hayley… I love great food, great wine and great company, and when I get free time I love to travel. In my quiet time I enjoy photography, art and of course spending quality time with my husband and 3 beautiful children.

Editors Comments – As a side note, the Willow Bay Neoprene Totes make the BEST baby bags (‘washable’ being a key feature!). If you are looking for a gift for an expectant mum you cant go wrong, and with so many colours to choose from, you will be able match it to their pram for sure!

Your new language: 10 phrases to know now!

We are so excited to hear so much feedback from people who are just discovering some gorgeous Australian labels for women, through Hawkins & Co. We do agree with the general feedback that whilst homegrown labels tend to be more expensive than their ‘fast fashion’ counterpart, the products are of a much higher quality. We are so excited to hear women understanding this and going for a ‘less is more’ approach in order to feel fabulous in their clothing, and support our homegrown talent.

Another angle is to look at the ethical implications of fast fashion. It is well known that large-scale clothing manufactures can keep their costs down by using cheap fabric and cheap labour. The move to reject these large retailers for smaller, more local labels tend, generally helps to support a much better ethical standard. Most small local labels are more transparent than the larger companies and their manufacturing arrangements will be available on their website, or a simple phone call will often answer any questions you might have.BUT…

When starting to investigate the ethical / sustainable angle of fashion, you are likely to uncover a whole new language… Whilst making decisions about how to spend, or not spend your money, being able to interpret what you are reading or hearing is imperative!

In order to fast track your journey to a smaller, more sustainable and ethically sound wardrobe, we have popped together a list of terms and definitions you may not be familiar with yet… it’s a starting point.


Conscious fashion – The idea of being mindful about the choices you make when it comes to clothes and accessories. Who made my clothes? Where was this garment produced? Is there a better way I could be washing this?

Carbon footprint – This refers to the amount of greenhouse gasses generated in order to support specific activities. For instance, buying groceries from a supermarket involves not only the greenhouse gasses generated by your trip to and from the supermarket but also those generated by the farming, reaping, processing, packaging, and transporting the grocery items to the supermarket.

Conscious consumerism – We are a consumer-driven society and one of the most positive changes we can make is being a conscious consumer. This simply means you make thoughtful buying decisions and focus on moral purchasing choices. Eg: the decision to buy sustainable or eco friendly products, or buy from an Australian company.


Eco fashion – Eco fashion refers to all clothes and accessories which are produced in an environmentally conscious way. So, people, animals or the environment are not impacted in the production process.

Ethical fashion – This covers clothes and accessories that are socially and environmentally conscious, although the focus is on the entire process. This is from design to production and finally retail. Ethical fashion addresses issues like labor exploitation, animal welfare and environmental damage.


Fairtrade – The producers/farmers are able to negotiate a fair price for a product through a trading partnership. This really aims at reducing poverty. Fairtrade Standards and principles apply for the producers and the companies whom trade Fairtrade products.

Fast fashion – This is the opposite to slow fashion. It refers to clothing collections that are copied straight from the catwalk and then manufactured at an accelerated rate and sold at a cheap price so people like you and me can wear trendy and inexpensive clothes. Often the labourers are working long hours for very little money, and in questionable conditions.


Organic fashion – This refers to garments and accessories produced with minimal or no use of chemicals. An organic cotton t-shirt is an example of organic fashion. Hawkins & Co showcase a lot of organic cotton!


Slow fashion – A term introduced by sustainable design consultant Kate Fletcher in 2008.  Quality rather than quantity is valued in slow fashion. It is the opposite of the fast fashion industry (see definition above), and is about consumers being aware or mindful about the process behind a product.

Sustainable fashion – This refers to the way we use our natural resources today so there will be ‘something left’ for future generations. In relation to fashion, this refers to clothing that has a lower impact on our planet and also takes into consideration the conditions in which it was made and how those people are treated. (Eg: fair wages.)