In 2018, VIS scholarship holder Lily Brazel was unwrapping her Australian uniform as a member of the Australian Women’s Hockey Team. As she stood in her hotel room, her excitement to wear the green and gold dissipated as empty plastic bags began to pile up around her.
Lily began to research the global fashion industry and was disheartened by what she discovered - the industry was responsible for one-third of all plastic pollution in the world’s ocean.
Her research ignited her passionate to protect Mother Earth and so her desire to create ethical performance apparel that fitted athletic bodies and could aid performance was born.
We spoke to Lily about her journey so far;
What prompted you to establish STATURE? Who or what was your inspiration?
The idea for Stature sprung out of plastic bags… When receiving my Australian uniform for the first time, the excitement of wearing the green and gold dissipated when I pulled each item out of a plastic bag. It upset me to see so much plastic waste. I knew that this wasn’t dissimilar to other uniforms I had received across my career but there was something about the plastic this time that tugged at my heart and mind. I began to research more about the clothes themselves, where they were made and what they were made out of. I researched the fashion industry in depth and what I found was some pretty devastating facts about the industry’s impact on the environment. With all the information I had found, I knew I couldn’t let it become someone else’s problem. It felt like it immediately became part of me, part of my journey here on Mother Earth.
I always had a strong interest in fashion, I obviously love sport, and being an environmental warrior has been ingrained in me through my upbringing. I felt this unrelenting desire to create change. I wanted to create performance clothing that would have no impact on Mother Earth, but I also wanted to make clothes that fitted well, had style and could enhance performance.
What's your motivation to make it an ethical brand?
The fashion industry’s impact on the environment is devastating. There are so many components that go into the making the clothes we wear everyday and all of these components have a toll on the environment. It was a no-brainer for me, there was simply no other way to go about business than in an ethical and sustainable way. And I truly believe, that soon enough, this will be THE ONLY way forward.
Every single part of the process with Stature aims to be as ethical and sustainable as possible.
Who are you targeting with the range?
Currently, the everyday athletes - the runners, the cross-fitters, the yogis, the sports-goers. And moving forward I want to target more elite athletes, and up-and-coming athletes with sponsorship, and potentially custom uniforms.
Tell us about the name Stature - what does it mean?
The name Stature came about from a spoken-word poem my brother created for my 21st. I was re-reading the poem one day for inspiration and came across the word: "A fire doused, its heat turned cold, by figures bent with stature.” The word really stood out to me, so looked up its definitions. One definition hit me - “degree of development attained or level of achievement” To me that’s what Stature Clothing is - the height, the degree of how things should be done.
How are you balancing your life as an elite athlete and life as a business woman?
The balance is tricky at times, and when I don’t get it right I really notice the impacts both in my hockey and in my business. I have to be present and mentally show up to whichever task is on hand. If I’m at training and thinking about fabric suppliers, I’m not doing my job. If I’m on my laptop working but replaying moments from a game in my head, I’m not doing my job. I’m learning along the way what works for me, and what doesn’t. I know on game days that checking my emails is not a good idea. And I know that I need a lot of sleep to make good decisions for my business and also perform as an athlete. The organisation and time commitments of both actually work well together, so for me it’s all about balancing the mind between the two.
What's the biggest challenge about starting your own company?
The biggest challenge has been the ’newness’ of it all. There were so many things (nearly everything) I had no knowledge or experience in, so I had to learn a lot. For me it couldn’t be a half-hearted attempt to try and make some clothes. This was a personal, emotional vision that I wanted to create so I wanted to know the specifics of everything in order to make the best decisions for the environment, for the athletes, and for the business. And of course, with learning a lot, you make a lot of mistakes!
What are some of the hurdles you have encountered?
Two of the biggest hurdles have been finding the right fabrics, and getting the fit of the garments exactly right. The fabric world seems boundless and it took a lot of searching and trialing to find suppliers that offered the right sustainable, recycled or natural fabrics with environmental certifications, and that could perform for athletes. It also took a lot of time to ensure the garments looked and felt right. I went through many rounds of samples and testing to make sure the athlete would truly be supported by these clothes.
What are your dreams as a business woman and as an athlete?
As a business woman, I want to be proud of the footprint I leave behind. My dream is not just for Stature to be a leading brand in the performance world, but for both Mother Earth and Athletes to legitimately thrive.
There is no reason why our performance apparel has to discount the earth that we are hustling on. Both Mother Earth and Athletes can thrive if we make the right decisions as businesses and consumers, and this is the message I want to make loud and clear.
As an athlete, I want to be proud of how I felt and performed during my career when I finish up. There are dreams of Olympic Gold that as an athlete you want so, so, so badly! But I’m focusing on a powerful and creative playing career that gives me experiences that I can truly breathe in, and not just have lived as passing moments.
What skills have acquired as an athlete that you now use as a business woman?
How to work hard. How to plan and organise in order to achieve small steps. How to deal with different types of people and opinions.
Where can you purchase the range?
Our first collection TIDAL RANGE is available via our online store www.statureclothing.com.au , and I'm looking into retailers to stock the collection across Australia.
How do we follow your journey?
Follow us on Instagram @stature_australia and on Facebook via Stature Australia.
Lily clearly epitomises the VIS’ motto of “Success in Sport & Life” and we wish her every success on her journey as an elite athlete and as a thriving businesswoman.