Manning Cartell Shares What It Takes to Build a Successful and Ethical Label

Nicole Singh

It’s no secret that breaking through the noise in what is a famously fickle fashion industry is not easy, which could be the main culprit behind the surge in fast fashion and mass consumption patterns. In fact, the rise of constantly changing trends has meant that the clothing industry has become the second biggest polluter in the world, second only to oil. However, thanks to iconic brands like Manning Cartell, there's proof that it doesn't have to be this way. 

In addition to creating high-quality garments that are synonymous with embodying the modern woman, the brand also has a completely ethical supply chain, showcasing that doing the right thing and finding success can go hand in hand. Launching just over a decade ago, sisters Cheryl, Vanessa and Gabrielle Manning founded Manning Cartell. And since, the brand has been able to ensure one thing that many others have not: Lasting power. 

To gain some insight into what it takes to build a successful and ethical brand, we spoke to Vanessa Manning about the businesses' journey so far. 

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As sisters, did you all grow up loving fashion, or did that passion come about later in life? 

Our love for fashion came from our mum. She always inspired us to make our own clothes from a young age and was always stylish in her dressing. The three of us were working in fashion and were ready for the next challenge. The journey has been full of challenges and obstacles, but we had to proceed as if success was inevitable. Building a business as a family works for us. As sisters, we have an innate sense of each other, there is trust and support, and we have the same drive and vision for Manning Cartell. 

 Why is being an ethical brand so important to you? 

At Manning Cartell, we wanted to support local manufacturing and through this create high quality, bespoke garments. We formalised this in 2012 through Ethical Clothing Australia. The manufacturing process is completely transparent. We only work with like-minded local makers who also have ethical accreditation.

 

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What are some of the biggest challenges that fashion faces at the moment? 

The changing digital landscape brings opportunities for sales and marketing but also challenges, bringing us all closer together, but also shortening timelines, so it is making us much more agile. Sustainability and ethical production is something that has always been at the forefront of our minds and continues to be something we strive for. We send fabric scraps from the cutting room floor to a company that recycles them into insulation, and have introduced organic cotton and sustainably produced leather into our collections. As the second most polluting industry in the world behind oil, the fashion industry can no longer afford to be complacent.

What’s one of the biggest entrepreneurial lessons you’ve learnt to date? 

Planning, strategising and considering options are important to any business; but there is a point when you just have to move forward and make a decision.

For any woman wanting to start their own brand, what’s one piece of advice you’d give? 

Take risks with confidence and total commitment.

What’s next for Manning Cartell? 

Global expansion! We are literally en route to New York to show our resort collection to Barney's as well as some other key international buyers.

Shop Manning Cartell's dedicated dress capsule collection, Dress Codes, perfect for any occasion. 

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