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This Melbourne label is screen printing pre-loved clothing, giving it a new lease on life

WORDS BY JULIETTE CAPOMOLLA

The duo behind Inside Voices makes clothing without contributing to textile waste.

Are you an avid op shopper? Or perhaps you spend the early hours of the morning scrolling through Depop. It’s safe to say you are not alone. In fact, the resale market has been growing exponentially and it does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. 

But let’s be honest, sometimes you can spend all day walking into op shops or all night scrolling online but to no avail. How come everyone else can find a perfectly worn-in printed tee from Vinnies but not me? 

Luckily for me (and you), the hard slog of finding second-hand pieces in good nick is being done for us. Cue Isabella and Jack, co-founders of Melbourne label Inside Voices. The couple has a longstanding passion for op shopping and graphic design and decided lockdown was the time to put it to good use.

Now, over six months on from their launch in April, their screen printed, upcycled drops are consistently selling out. I spoke to the duo about how Inside Voices started, what the process of upcycling is actually like and their vision for the future. 

Who are you as a couple and does that come into your brand at all? 

Jack: I think so. We’re a pretty loud duo. We’ve been told we’re quite loud and that has definitely played into it.

Isabella: I would say we are both pretty motivated. We had plans this year to go to Europe for four months and when that wasn’t an option anymore because of corona, we were both kind of like, for our sanity and for our creative expression, we have to keep busy this year. Somehow we just got out of our funk and were like this is going to be really fun if we can put out time and energy into it. 

Why Inside Voices and what does that mean to you? 

J: Well it really just began in the early stages of the first lockdown back in March. We were cooped up for a week or so and we always had this idea of screen printing upcycled textiles. So we were like let’s just print a couple of T-Shirts and we can sell them. We were playing around with some different names. It wasn’t originally a name for a brand, we just came up with the original print called Inside Voices.

I: It was playing off that idea of being stuck inside.

How would you describe Inside Voices as a brand?

J: I think it’s kind of open to a lot of things. Since we’ve begun, we’ve kind of always been based on this idea of experimenting with what we have.

I: It’s pretty open to people’s interpretation. But we didn’t want to put strict parameters around it because essentially, we’re always experimenting with our designs and how we put it all together, so consumers can be experimental as well. 

J: As a brand, we definitely want to have this playful nature. If you’ve seen our Instagram, the way we promote the product is definitely one of the most important parts of us as a brand. 

What creative influences do you have? 

J: We’re both just recently graduated graphic designers, so 100 per cent that is [an influence]. We both came out of uni with a strong interest in screen printing so that’s where it all started. 

What made you want to then take that into the textiles and fashion industry? 

I: We’ve always had a love of thrifting and going to op shops and collecting used garments already and reselling them, whether that be on Depop or stuff that we’ve had enough of. We have so much stuff, and the shops have so much stuff that we thought it would be really fun to utilise stuff that already exists that is still in great nick. 

J: I don’t think we want to limit ourselves to fashion, as well. I think we’re open to exploring a bunch of different avenues, like working with different creatives in different industries. 

I: A little while ago, we set up an 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 stuff that they’re doing.

What’s the future looking like for Inside Voices? 

I: We’ve been so grateful at the responses that we’ve gotten from our maybe 30 to 40 garment drops. They’ve just been selling out and we were so overwhelmed and grateful for this attention from the get-go. We want to be able to produce more but we don’t want to be mass-producing just for the sake of meeting everybody’s needs. 

The upcycled collections have all been quite limited and we thought, if we’re to do something slightly bigger, we’re not going to get your stock standard cotton garments made from a really cheap manufacturer. We did a lot of background research into a company and a supplier that met all of our values and it was found in 100 per cent recycled cotton garments. 

We have this bigger dream that Inside Voices isn’t limited to fashion. It could also be a creative studio space that could provide design outcomes and branding services for people and hopefully collaborate with other designers and creative individuals as well. So there is space for growth in those avenues as well. 

You mentioned that you use deadstock from companies. What’s that process like?

J: When we first started, it was really just collecting garments from op shops. After our first few drops, we had a few friends being like ‘you should reach out to certain companies that are trying to manage their waste’. Luckily it just sort of fell into place. I work at a T-Shirt printing company in Melbourne and we get a bunch of deadstock so that’s kind of where it started. I spoke with them and said I’m happy to take it off your hands and use it in a more responsible way, rather than just getting rid of it or sending it off to an op shop or to be recycled. 

I: Ultimately it goes back into the same cycle. Whereas, we grab it before it goes into that hole. It’s definitely something we want to push more. I know there are definitely companies out there wanting to manage their overstock in a really productive way. 

J: I would love to collaborate with certain brands. I’ve seen a few different upcycle collaborations pop up with some workwear brands. They’ve always got so much deadstock leftover and they’ve worked with smaller brands to produce limited collections of garments. 

Inside Voice’s first 100 per cent recycled cotton collection will launch on Wednesday on its website

insidevoices.com.au

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