WORDS FROM JULIETTE CAPOMOLLA
The duo behind Inside Voices make clothes without contributing to textile waste.
Are you an avid op shopper? Or maybe you spend the wee hours of the morning scrolling through Depop. It is safe to say that you are not alone. In fact, the resale market has grown exponentially and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
But let’s face it, sometimes you can spend all day walking into op shops or scrolling online all night but to no avail. How is it that everyone else can find a perfectly worn Vinnies printed t-shirt but not me?
Luckily for me (and you), the tough job of finding used pieces in good condition is done for us. Cue Isabella and Jack, co-founders of the Melbourne label Inside Voices. The couple have a long-standing passion for op shopping and graphic design and decided that Lockdown was the time to put it to good use.
Now, more than six months after their April launch, their screen-printed upcycling drops are consistently sold out. I spoke to the duo about how Inside Voices started, how the upcycling process actually works and what vision they have for the future.
Who are you as a couple and does that even come into your brand?
Jack: I think so. We’re a pretty loud duo. We were told we were pretty loud and that definitely helped.
Isabella: I’d say we’re both pretty motivated. We had plans this year to go to Europe for four months and when this was no longer an option due to the corona we both felt we needed to be busy this year for our sanity and creative expression. Somehow we just got out of our funk and felt that this will be really fun if we can put the time and energy into it.
Why Inside Voices and what does it mean for you?
J: Well, it really didn’t start until the early stages of the first lockdown in March. We were cooped up for about a week and always came up with the idea of screen printing upcycled textiles. So we just wanted to print some t-shirts and sell them. We played around with different names. It wasn’t originally a name for a brand, we just developed the original print called Inside Voices.
I: It played off the idea of getting stuck inside.
How would you describe Inside Voices as a brand?
J: I think it’s open to a lot of things. Since we started we’ve always relied on this idea of experimenting with what we have.
I: It’s pretty open to people’s interpretation. We didn’t want to set strict parameters, however, as we are essentially always experimenting with our designs and how we put it all together so that consumers can experiment too.
J: As a brand, we definitely want to have this playful nature. If you’ve seen ours InstagramThe way we advertise the product is definitely one of the most important parts of who we are as a brand.
What creative influences do you have?
J: We are both just recently qualified graphic designers, so 100 percent [an influence]. We both came from college with a strong interest in screen printing, so it all started.
Then why did you want to bring this into the textile and fashion industry?
I: We’ve always had a penchant for thrifting, going to op-shops, collecting used clothes and reselling them, be it at Depop or stuff we’ve had enough of. We have so much stuff and the stores have so much stuff that we thought it would be really fun to use things that already exist and that are still in good shape.
J: I don’t think we want to limit ourselves to fashion too. I think we are open to exploring a number of different avenues such as working with different creatives in different industries.
I: We set up one a while ago Inside Voices Bulletin which we thought was pretty important. We have a lot of friends who are like minded creatives and we thought it would be a great way to share and promote some of the things they do.
What does the future of Inside Voices look like?
I: We were so grateful for the answers we received from our maybe 30 to 40 drops. They were just sold out and we were so overwhelmed and grateful for this attention from the start. We want to be able to produce more, but we don’t want to be mass-produced just to meet everyone’s needs.
The upcycling collections were all quite limited and we figured if we wanted to do something bigger we weren’t going to get your standard cotton clothing from a really cheap manufacturer. We did a lot of background research on a company and supplier that all met our values and was found in 100 percent recycled cotton garments.
We have this bigger dream that Inside Voices isn’t limited to fashion. It could also be a creative studio providing design results and branding services for people and hopefully working with other designers and creative people as well. There is room for growth in these areas too.
You mentioned that you use company machines. How is this process?
J: When we started we really only collected clothes in op shops. After our first drops, we had a couple of friends who said, “You should turn to specific companies trying to manage your waste.” Fortunately, it just went together. I work at a t-shirt printing company in Melbourne and we get a lot of machines and stuff, so that’s how it started. I spoke to them and said that I would love to take it off your hands and use it more responsibly rather than just getting rid of it or sending it to an op-shop or recycling it.
I: Ultimately, it goes back to the same cycle. As we grab it before it goes into that hole. It’s definitely something we want to keep pushing. I know there are definitely companies out there who really want to be productive in managing their excess inventory.
J: I would like to work with certain brands. I’ve seen a few different upcycle collaborations with a few workwear brands. They always have so much leftover material and have worked with smaller brands to make limited collections of clothes.
Inside Voice’s first collection made from 100 percent recycled cotton will hit the market on Wednesday website.