Interview with Ebanny Dwyer of Edie Collective

Interview with Ebanny Dwyer of Edie Collective

Interview with Ebanny Dwyer of Edie Collective

As a devoted animal advocate who had very limited shoe options as a vegan, Ebanny Dwyer decided she needed to do something about it.

We chat to the designer and founder behind new vegan footwear brand Edie Collective on what led her to start the label, the misconceptions around vegan leather and what we can all do to be kinder to animals. 

Tell us all about yourself, where did you grow up, what did you study, and what life experiences do you think have made the biggest impact on where you are now? 

Although I’ve called Sydney home for the past 12 years I’m originally from Mackay, North Queensland (or if I want to try and flex - The Whitsundays). Although I’m from a very beautiful part of the world I definitely was a city girl at heart and moved away a year after school to study fashion at FBI. I think moving away from your home, support system and trying to break into a notoriously challenging industry was certainly a very big challenge. It definitely taught me resilience and further enhanced my work ethic and drive to succeed in my career. 

What was the moment you decided to create Edie and why?

There were really two very pinnacle moments that led us to edie, although I had been vegetarian and very conscious of animal issues and conscious shopping I did wear leather up until I stumbled across a Stella McCartney interview on instagram that flashed up vision around the production of leather. Once I saw that I never purchased leather again. Fast forward 7 years later covid hit, we were all on job keeper hours and Ed my partner and second half of edie encouraged me to take advantage of all my free time and explore the idea that I shared on probably one of our first dates. 

You have worked in fashion, specifically in communications and PR over the last 10 years, what have been some of the key learnings and what do you want to do differently with your own label?

I am so grateful for the experience and guidance I’ve received throughout my career however I think my biggest take away is authenticity. It’s always great to see what others are doing in the same space however those who really shine are brands who have really strong brand integrity and believe in what they do. I love watching and supporting brands who have something unique and special to speak about and champion.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegan leather and creating products from vegan leather?

Definitely the quality and longevity. We’ve all grown up thinking that leather is superior in comparison to leather alternatives and 10 years ago that was the case. Vegan leathers were once only found at fast fashion style shops. However with the incredible shift of consumer behaviour and peoples growing interests in shopping ethically and sustainably the vegan leather industry has had the ability to develop some really incredible materials that not only look and feel like leather but have the longevity that rivals traditional animal skins. The more consumers support the cruelty free movement the more the industry can continue to grow and develop!

What is Edie’s vegan leather made from and how does this sit within the broader sustainability conversation?

Edie first and foremost was developed as a cruelty free, vegan brand. We of course have sustainability at the forefront of our mind and implemented to the best of our ability. When developing the brand we explored a number of materials on the market. There are so many incredible plant based leathers available however, they are not everything to everyone. Our focus is to slow down consumption, which is why we’ve crafted our pieces out of the high quality materials that were made to last. Our designs are timeless and we want to keep them out of landfill and to be a part of all of our lives for a very long time. Further to this we have ensured that all materials, packaging, required stickers etc are all natural certified recycled and/or biodegradable materials. 

Without prior design or production experience, how did you tackle starting the brand and finding the right people with that experience to help bring your idea to life?

This was probably somewhat the most challenging aspect of starting a brand, especially a footwear brand which requires so much architectural knowledge. At the time of inception I was living with a friend who had a fashion label years ago, who helped me locate footwear industry Facebook pages, from there I started networking and speaking to people in the industry and aligned myself with like minded professionals. It’s definitely been a challenge, with a lot of hurdles but without those we can’t learn and grow.  

Is building an ethical brand as hard as other brands claim it is? Why do you think more brands aren’t going down this path? And what advice would you give to brands that do want to make better choices?

There are definitely very simple steps brands can take to reduce their impact on the world such as smaller collections (within both style and depth), the packaging they choose to use etc. However in terms of the bigger picture such as materials, dyes, glues etc all these very important elements of a sustainable garment often require huge minimum units. I was a year into sampling our first collection and had to change factories, we found it extremely challenging to locate those who are willing to create small quantities and offer vegan alternatives. I do feel that larger established brands should be doing more, and championing change as they have the ability and resources. The more brands are asking for sustainable options the quicker the industry changes. It’s supply and demand.

You have always been a passionate animal advocate, what can we all do to be more kind and help our animal friends?

I think when people start to view animals as they are, equals to us it starts to become natural to want to do better by them. There’s so many simple and obvious steps such as reducing your meat intake, purchasing animal produce from small, ethical suppliers, signing petitions, speaking out on social media and tagging local and government officials, opting to adopt or foster etc.

And just be kind, be kind to the bug that’s stuck in your house and just wants to be outside. Let him out. Be kind to the stray cats overseas, pat them and show them that their lives mean something. Go out of your way to show kindness to those who can’t ever repay you.

No one will ever walk away from moving a snail off the footpath and regret it.

How would you describe your personal style?

I would describe my style as girly tomboy!

What are 5 wardrobe essentials you couldn’t live without?

100% a blazer (or 5) a few with matching pants obviously. A classic go-to top that just makes you feel good (I had a Faithful Esber top in both black and white that I wore to death), a classic thick t-shirt, bike shorts & jeans! And an honourable mention to a smock dress. You just throw it on when you need to go to the shops, or don’t feel great, a wardrobe must.

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