Interview: Eco Friendly Fashion with Fia Tomkins, Lilla by Fia

Fia Tomkins is the creator of Lilla by Fia, an ethical and sustainable clothing brand using hemp and organic cotton, hand dyed with avocado seeds and designed, drafted, cut, sewn and dyed by Fia herself.

When did you first become interested in fashion?

I’ve always wanted to be a fashion designer, even from a young age. I was given my grandmother’s old sewing machine when I finished school so I think that’s when I knew I wanted to pursuit a career in fashion.

Why is it important to you to use natural fabrics?

Hemp is a wonderful fibre that is durable, absorbent and softens with wear. The fibre requires little water, limited pesticides and herbicides and grows at a fast rate. The hemp is a blend with organic cotton which creates a comfortable fabric to wear.

I am continually striving for a eco friendly business.

The fabric is sourced from Western Australia and manufactured off shore as there are currently no facilities in Australia that produce hemp as a fibre.

How do you dye your clothes and why do you do it this way?

I use avocado seeds as a natural dye because there are no chemicals involved in the process, therefore, there is no harmful runoff. I compost the by product which minimises waste and gives back to the earth. I use what I can from the natural environment.

Why do you think so many ‘eco’ labels still use synthetic dyes?

I think because it is easier. With chemical dyes you may produce an even colour and the dye may last longer, however, each item that is naturally dyed is unique – no two garments are the same.

In what other ways does your business practice eco awareness?

I use fabric scraps as clothes tags that are screen printed locally. I also use the scraps as string and fill cushions with the excess fabric.

I aim to educate and create awareness of the impacts the fashion industry has on the environment.

Waste is a huge part of our business and we try to minimise this but are always striving towards improving our practices. Business cards and swing tags are printed with plant based inks and printed on recycled paper.

Why should consumers be more conscious of the production processes used to make clothing?

We need to know who made our clothes and where. Many larger companies don’t know who made their clothes and how the workers are being treated – whether they are paid a fair wage and work under fair working conditions. Without this knowledge, the quality of the garment is compromised because the workers are under a great amount of stress to meet a deadline due to mass produced garments and the demand for fast fashion.

What are you hoping to change about the world of fashion?

Fast Fashion. I want people to be aware of the impacts fast fashion has on the environment, workers and local communities. Also to be mindful of the construction process. It takes time to sew a garment.