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April 19, 2021

ReCreate: the NZ Fashion Brand Empowering Cambodian Workers

New Zealand’s fashion industry is enriched by ReCreate, an ethical and sustainable brand working with organic materials and disadvantaged workers.

Founded by Erica Gadsby, ReCreate is a clothing brand with its roots in ethical practice. They base their manufacturing in Dey Tmey, Cambodia, where Gadsby volunteered for several years prior to establishing her brand. Many people living in this community formerly lived in slums in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, but were relocated to Dey Tmey in 2007 as part of the government’s efforts to improve tourism. This dislocation moved many of them far from work and education opportunities, with women in particular facing job scarcity - and inspiring Gadsby to launch the first ReCreate sewing workshop.

Gadsby didn’t set out to work in fashion: as she explains, ‘you could say the ethics came before the brand!’ Her compassion and drive to support women in need drew her into conversations with friends back home in New Zealand, which led to plans for the sewing workshop. ReCreate’s very first student, Sompoa, now leads the sewing team and trains new students, while her husband, Hiet, sews and repairs machines. This life transformation is the company’s goal for workers in the community, with fair working conditions and pay continuing to evade many in Dey Tmey.

While workers’ rights and ethics sit at the heart of ReCreate, they’re also consistently developing their level of sustainability, reviewing their environmental management plan regularly. They import their garments via a climate-neutral shipping service, use plant-based shipping bags, and make their clothes from a variety of organic cottons, from lightweight denim to artisanal handwoven cotton. They also source their materials from the nearest possible producers, minimising their carbon footprint at every step.

… with every decision, there will be a faster, cheaper, easier way to do it, so you’d better be pretty sure on why being an ethical business matters to you.
ERICA GADSBY, FOUNDER OF RECREATE.

ReCreate is one of the most impressive brands we’ve come across, purely by virtue of their incredible social and environmental consciousness. We’ve written extensively on sustainability and ethics within the fashion industry, so it’s refreshing to see a brand so committed to their workers and our planet.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like our feature on ELK, a sustainable Australian fashion brand.

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