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07 Nov 2018

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Frankie’s Story of ethical fashion

A 54-year-old family-run business at South Melbourne Market is turning its hand to ethical fashion.

When Hadassah Jordan’s grandmother first opened a clothing stall at South Melbourne Market in 1964, there was no such thing as ethical or sustainable fashion.

Everything was manufactured locally in safe working conditions, and back then, clothes were made to last.

But a lot has changed over the past half a century. Most of our clothing manufacturing has moved offshore, where labour costs are low and conditions often poor, to keep up with a global demand for cheap, disposable fashion.

Saddened by the devastating ethical and environmental footprint fast fashion was leaving on the planet, Hadassah – who spent 25 years working in the family business at the market – decided to do something about it.

In November 2013, she opened a second stall at the market called Frankie’s Story, which was initially dedicated to ethically and environmentally-produced clothing for children. Such has been the success of the store, she recently closed the family’s original stall (A Story by Another Name) to focus solely on Frankie’s Story.

The store originally stocked ethical and eco-friendly children’s wear from high-end Swedish label Mini Rodini and sustainable and fair trade Danish organic brand Popupshop, whose focus is a dye process containing no heavy metals.

Hadassah has since expanded her offering to also include ethically-produced basics and accessories for adults, including socially-responsible New Zealand label, AS Colour, and French sneaker brand, Veja – often referred to as the world’s most ethical sneaker makers.

“I really feel a sacredness to representing my family here at the market,” Hadassah said. “And my real passion now is Frankie’s Story, which is all about raising the standards of my goods to be ethical and sustainable and to be a retailer with a moral compass.”

Hadassah’s family are of Jewish heritage and migrated to Australia after the Holocaust. Her grandparents started at the market in 1964 after a family friend suggested selling a brand called Swiss Models and with her grandfather working as a tailor at the time, the business was a good fit!

Over the ensuing decades the stall sold an ever-changing range of brands and styles of clothing that evolved according to the fashion trends at the time. The store nurtured community mindfulness after the experience of the Holocaust, and Hadassah’s family were empathetic to the hardship of others.

At the time, South Melbourne was a predominantly working-class suburb so it was not unusual for Hadassah’s grandmother Fania to offer clothing to those less fortunate.

Since her grandfather and mother retired in the ‘90s, Hadassah has been at the helm.

“The South Melbourne Market is a really special place for me and in the 25 years I’ve worked here, I’ve not spent one day bored,” she said.

“There’s something about the market experience that can’t be replicated in a shopping centre. It has this element of discovery and surprise and you feel like you are part of the community.”

“With Frankie’s Story, I also feel like I’m giving back to the community in some small way, which has been part of an instilled family belief.”

Frankie’s Story is located at shop 78-79 Aisle B, South Melbourne Market.

Frankiesstory.com.au

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