Walk Sew Good: A walking tour of Southeast Asia meeting sustainable fashion’s changemakers

Walk Sew Good founders Gab Murphy and Megan O’Malley are walking their way through Southeast Asia to raise awareness about sustainable fashion.

The walking duo, who hail from Melbourne in Australia, kicked off their year-long, 3,500-mile walk across Southeast Asia towards the end of last year. Their aim is to meet people creating fashion in positive and impactful ways, film them and share their stories with the world.

Gab Murphy and Megan O’Malley are bringing to the spotlight the positive stories around fashion. “Rather than showing people what they shouldn’t be doing and making them feel guilty, we decided to show people who they should be supporting,” Megan O’Malley said. “Empowering people to change the way they interact with the world for the better doesn’t happen when you attack the way they live their lives now. It starts with open dialogue, awareness building and most importantly, no judgement.”

Megan O’Malley added: “There are so many people out there working to find a better way to create beautiful clothing. So many people resisting a system where the odds are stacked against them. So many people willing to believe in a better world. ”

Via their You Tube channel, Instagram and website, Walk Sew Good, also the name of their project, the ladies share stories of fashion changemakers that they meet along their journey. These are stories from fashion revolutionaries including artisans, workers rights’ activists, designers, ethical fashion label owners who are fostering sustainable practices in their approach to fashion. The stories are filmed and shared across social media outlets.

Along their journey so far, the ladies have met a Cambodian businesswoman, Vannary San, who’s on a mission to revive silk production in Cambodia; Dorsu, a Cambodian company making clothes out of leftover materials; and Ophelie Snoy, founder of Leizuu, a brand supporting workers rights in Vietnam and making use of natural textiles made by ethnic minorities in Vietnam.

While Gab Murphy and Megan O’Malley are showcasing the positive stories around fashion, their intentions are also to get consumers to be more conscious of their choices when it comes to fashion – consume less, enquire about where and how their clothes are made so they can make an informed choice, buy that which is going to last, buy second hand clothes, and fix your clothes where possible.

The negative impact of the fashion industry on the environment and people – including sweatshop conditions and dyes used in clothing manufacturing polluting local rivers – has been brought to light by changemakers the world over. It has been argued that the fashion industry itself is not so fast to make changes as it is to make fast fashion.

India, Morocco, Tunisia, China and Southeast Asia are just some of the countries where the ethics around the manufacturing of clothes by major fashion brands have been brought into question.

On the Walk Sew Good website, Megan O’Malley explained the decision to walk through Southeast Asia. She said: “Many people say that the garment manufacturing industry is a way for developing countries, countries we’ll be visiting in Southeast Asia for example, to lift themselves out of poverty. But in the meantime, real life people just like you and I are underpaid and overworked.

“Laws in place to protect these people are flimsy at best. Governments in developing countries are reluctant to legislate anything that will increase the cost of business. Fast fashion brands want their clothing made as fast and as cheaply as possible. If it costs too much to do business in one country, they take their business elsewhere. And in the meantime fundamental human rights such as a living wage and healthy and safe working conditions are compromised to keep costs low.

“Which is why when we hear about brands creating clothing in these developing countries in a fair and sustainable way, we’re that much more impressed. It’s tough! In Australia we have laws to protect people from being exploited. But in the countries we’ll be visiting, these kinds of protections and brilliant organisations don’t exist.

“We’ll be walking to share the positive fashion stories happening in Southeast Asia against the odds. Stories of people working to change a system that is beyond broke. Stories of people creating beautiful clothing with beautiful impacts. It’s our piece of the puzzle.”

Gab Murphy and Megan O’Malley’s project, Walk Sew Good, is inspiring in so many ways, including their own personal journeys. In addition to sharing positive stories about fashion, they too are using their blog to bring their enlightening, funny and lighthearted tales about their walk, which by the end of their year-long journey will have taken in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos.

The walking pair have covered everything on their blog from weight loss, recommended playlists for walking, deconstructing the cargo pant, through to their shout out to get celebrity and sustainable fashion champion, Emma Watson, to join them on at least part of their walking tour. Their endurance and strength is equally as admirable as their passion to promote a more just and sustainable fashion industry.

Walk Sew Good

Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com

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