Tayla Parnham studied a double degree in Bachelor of Science with focus on Environmental Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion and Textiles. By studying in two very different fields, she looked at connecting science and art together. Currently working as environment advisor focusing on environment Management, Tayla Parnham is the founder of eco friendly fashion label Fabric of Nature. Her love for the environment, understanding the natural sciences behind it, is the "core" of the label. Fabric of Nature lets her communicate messages about looking after the environment appreciating the natural beauty of it. “I work a lot with fragile tissue silks that, when dyed with eucalyptus leaves, creates the most unique and beautiful natural colours. When turned into garment it is appreciated and seen more by others. By using eco friendly and biodegradable fabrics, I also feel like I am doing my part to help minimising the clothes that are going to landfill as my clothes at the end of their life time can breakdown naturally in the environment and provide nutrients to grow new plants”.
Tayla learnt to sew when she was a child. Her grandmother taught her everything she knows about sewing. From then on she was designing and making her own clothes. She enjoyed it. It allowed her to make something no one else had. Throughout school, she really enjoyed experimenting with different textile techniques, particularly felting wool and dying fabric. “When I found the natural dying technique at University, I found something that was meaningful to the ideas I wanted to portray through clothing. My love for the outdoors and the natural environment led the inspiration for my label. As an emerging designer now I am looking at all the different ways through clothing I can promote and make people aware, apart of being environmentally conscious”.
The last collection designed by Tayla, showed during last Eco Fashion Week Australian runway, was about portraying an appreciation for the natural environment with a particular focus on Western Australia and how humans fit in with the environment. The materials used were a lot of raw silks naturally dyed with eucalyptus leaves, recycled workwear -particularly denim and flannel shirts-, and other organics such as linen and cotton.
“I utilise deconstruction techniques by deconstructing and reworking old used clothes and upcycle them into something new. The designs are inspired by mirroring the garment as a landscape themselves. You may notice some of my pieces feature topographic maps looking at the lay of the landscape from different perspectives as well as patterns from native bushland of the leaves”.
Tayla is currently selling hand naturally dyed silk scarves. Growing up with a family farm in the wheatbelt of western Australia, she also has been exposed a lot to sheep and merino wool which has been an addition to her label this year.
We all know the most difficult things with working in the eco fashion space is the limited availability of raw organic fabrics and materials to use. Currently we live in a fast fashion world that heavily focus on unsustainable synthetic clothes that are mass produced and contribute to massive amounts of landfill waste. To Tayla, the worst part about the current fashion system is still about the end goal of making mass productions of clothes for high profit with no consideration for the environmental and ethical costs. "The market is still favouring cheaper synthetic mass produced clothes over local products, ethically produced or made with organic fabrics. It needs to shift. I think the saddest news about fashion at the moment are the current statistics of the percentage of mass produced products, mainly synthetics clothing, going into our landfills. There seems to be also less and less local produced textiles where particularly the wool industries are declining as they are being outcompeted by synthetic clothes”.
"Consumers need to change the way they buy clothes as it is becoming more and more unsustainable to go on like this any further. Consumers can change the way they buy clothes by understanding the processes of what goes into making the clothes and the ecological footprint that is created (ie. emissions produced, can it biodegrade?...). I encourage consumers to educate and get better understanding of the clothing they buy... For instance do they need it? Have they done any research about where the products come from or what they are made out of? Can it be bought second hand instead? Is it an eco friendly fabric that will biodegrade over time? Am I buying a local product or is it mass produced in a factory? Is what I am buying high quality and made to last?...”
Tayla says she does not really buy specific labels. “I like to wear items that I have found in op shops. I also buy from local boutiques/ markets and love to practice clothes swaps with family and friends. I look for items for my wardrobe that are made from natural fibres mainly”.
She tries to make conscious eco friendly decisions throughout her lifestyle such as minimising plastic usage by finding alternatives like stainless steel straws and bees wax paper, recycling household items properly and trying to minimise her ecological footprint by walking instead of driving. Working in the environmental sciences, she also get to be envolved in a lot of environmental initiatives to protect the environment and conservate it.
The designer likes to read books about natural dying fabrics that show how these amazing colours can be extracted from natural environment but also from everyday fruits and vegetables. “I have been reading “The Modern Natural Dyer: A Comprehensive Guide to Dyeing Silk, Wool, Linen and Cotton” by Kristine Vejar; “Eco Colour: Environmentally Sustainable Dyes”, by India Flint. I have also been reading “The Influencer” by Kerry Patterson. It is not so much an eco book but does shed light on how we can influence and make a positive change in people and I am interested in how this could be applied to influencing people to being more environmentally friendly and promoting sustainable clothing”.
We ask Tayla about sustainable places to visit in Perth. She says she likes to visit a lot of second hand clothing stores and op shops particularly in the Fremantle area such as Good Sammys, Vinnies, Salvos and Windsor Wiper Sales. “There is a lot of second hand clothing stores in the Fremantle area and I have always found some amazing clothing treasures there. I also really enjoy the Fremantle markets on the weekends, where there are some amazing local art and dyed clothing to buy”.
“If you are a foodie like me and still want to eat healthy, there is a great food store in Victoria Park in Perth. It is a Bulk Food retailer that provides amazing healthy products, sourced locally and promotes zero waste where there is no plastic packaging or single use plastics. One of my favourite restaurants/cafes in Perth at the moment is Taylor’s Café, a local coffee house that serves amazing local food humanely sourced, organic and locally produced. It also sell beautiful textile clothes that have Australian wildlife prints on them.