Welcome to our series on slow gifting where we will bring you brands (Indigo Bay brands and others) who make beautiful products perfect for gifting.
So, what is slow gifting?
You may have heard of the slow fashion movement – a move away from fashion that changes every 6 weeks and the huge waste this creates. Did you know that Australians are getting rid of 6,000 kilograms of fashion and textile waste every 10 minutes? 6000kg. Every. 10. Minutes. (War on Waste, 2017). People are now rethinking their choices and spending on products that are ethically made, sustainable and contributing as little as possible to this excess.
Slow gifting follows the same principles as slow fashion. It is about making conscious choices about what you are giving to people. Where did your gifts come from? Who made them? How were they made? What are they made from? Will they last?
It is about beautiful products made by real people who love what they do.
It is about products that will be loved and used again and again.
It is about reconnecting, mindfulness, and thoughtful gifting.
Meet Mr. Draper
Meet Alistair (and Bo) from Mr. Draper.
Photo credit: Lillie Thompson
Mr. Draper makes beautiful high-quality bedding, napkins, tablecloths, tea towels and throws from 100% linen.
Alistair started Mr. Draper in 2014 as a move against fast fashion after working in the corporate world and time in the military. He wanted to slow down, not in the sense of not being busy, as he probably works harder now than ever, but in wanting to participate in life and feel part of a community.
Mr. Draper and Slow Gifting
Mr. Draper is a perfect example of slow gifting. The products are all made to be used and they get better with age (super soft linen bed sheets anyone?). They are the perfect gift for newlyweds, people moving into a new home, people setting up a home for the first time or for spoiling yourself.
Photo credit - Lillie Thompson
Alistair states “We need to use our moral compasses more and industry norms less.” To Mr. Draper this means finding the right people and the right fabrics to work with, even if it takes more time and costs more money.
Linen, a luxurious and durable fabric, is a natural fibre made from the flax plant. Mr. Draper source their linen from Siulas Mill in Lithuania where the workers are all paid above minimum wage and they work in fair conditions in a safe environment. The mill does not add nasty chemicals to the linen in the dyeing process or to keep it wrinkle free.
Mr. Draper products are made by Alistair himself, and since the business has grown and life has changed (Baby Draper was born in early 2018) Alistair gets help from Siulas Mill. During busy times The Social Studio also help out. The Social Studio is a social enterprise helping Australians from a refugee or migrant background and they are based in Melbourne.
Photo credit: Alistair Birrell
Mr. Draper packaging is simple, minimal and plastic free. Orders are packed in recycled or compostable mailers and no fillers (bubble wrap etc.) are used.
When linens have reached the end of their life cycle - due to damage, age or even if it’s just because you want a change in colour - instead of throwing them out, they can be sent back to Mr. Draper and they will be remade into another product.
Another great initiative is that all event orders are provided with a repurposing plan. Mr. Draper custom makes event linens which can then be made into something that will be used and enjoyed every day. Think wedding tablecloths repurposed into tea towels and gifted to the guests. Brilliant!
Alistair connects with his potential customers is by doing trades or swaps. If you “make it / grow it / catch it / bake it yourself” you may be able to swap your product or service for some beautiful linen products.
Through his transparency on his website and in the Journal, Alistair is letting us into the real world of Mr. Draper, allowing us to connect with the maker. This is part of the changing concept of buying - from not giving any thought to where or how our purchases are made to wanting to know where they are really coming from.
Want to know more about Mr. Draper?
War on Waste. (2017). ABC TV, 30 May.
Season 1, Episode 3