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Introducing The Social Outfit; dedicated to helping people and the planet

A socially responsible fashion house whose annual collection is made entirely from off-cuts

Designer, Jackie Ruddock is changing the face of the Australian fashion industry. And not just from an environmental perspective but also a humanitarian one. Her company, The Social Outfit creates beautiful, one-off fashion pieces made from fabric offcuts from some of Australia’s biggest fashion houses. Case in point their latest collection King Botanic features discards from Romance Was Born, Carla Zampatti, Alice McCall, Seafolly and Good Day Girl. Here Jackie reveals her vision which incorporates providing employment and training in the fashion industry to refugees and migrants.

Tell us a little about yourself

I was born in South Africa and my family migrated to Australia. I grew up in Melbourne, via a couple of different countries, I came to Sydney in 2000, and finished study and forged my career in the adult education and social change sector, and here I am!

The Social Outfit isn’t your average fashion brand, what’s it all about?

You can find us on King St, Newtown. We look like a fashion label when you walk in the store, there are racks of gorgeous one-off items for sale, but behind what’s on display is our workroom where we manufacture onsite, we also have a sewing school… 70 per cent of what we do is an employment agency for the community, while 30 per cent is our sewing program and fashion-based projects.

What’s your vision for the future?

Since we launched in 2014 we’ve grown year on year, employed more people, trained more people and we hope for that to continue. We’d like to increase our focus of working with women from the refugee and migrant community and also young people. The majority of humanitarian entrants to Australia are under 25 years old and we know that if you help provide a job for someone they help create success for the future, and as a young person, if you have purpose, you are more likely to adjust to your new situation.

King Botanic spring/summer 18/19
King Botanic spring/summer 18/19
King Botanic spring summer 18/19
King Botanic spring summer 18/19

What was it like working with Romance Was Born? 

It was incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to work with the amazing and beloved fashion label, they gave us a print for our 2017 winter collection. They re-released a pattern from their archive featuring artwork by Linda Jackson. It was beautiful.

How many refugees have you trained?

We have employed 14 people to date, and across our programs helped place 13 people into ongoing employment. We’ve worked with over 300 people through our sewing programs, and have trained 141 people in those programs.

What’s one of the inspiring things you see with your work?

Because of our set up, our staff (who make the garments) get to see someone buying what they’ve created, it’s such a beautiful moment. Watching women who began as students with us, who are now staff, they are great moments too, and that’s the type of work we want to continue.

What’s your favourite part of being CEO of the Social Outfit

I think it’s an incredible example of working together collectively. I feel fortunate to have the support of so many people, from the fashion industry, from the refugee community and the wider Australian community. The things that happen when people come together over creativity is amazing.

Jackie Ruddick
Jackie Ruddick

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