Totes Serious - Who Made your Bag? Exploring the Ethics Behind Handmade Fibre Basketry

‘Totes Serious’ is a new exhibition of handmade fibre baskets by Nicole Robins, opening Thursday 26th September, 6-8pm at 53 Ridge St North Sydney. 

In recent years woven bags have become real ‘it bags’ and we can see a greenwashing aspect to their use in fashion advertising. They have come to signify ethical, handmade, and of course ‘natural’ by their very appearance. At the same time, makers are invisible. These bags are often made in less affluent countries where makers are poorly paid. The clothes accompanying the bags have a brand, a designer and status. The bags themselves are often treated as mere window dressing - yet they are made by extremely skilled artisans.   

“‘totes serious’ is wanting consumers to ask ‘who made my bag’ and to recognise that all natural fibre totes are handmade but not always in sustainable or ethical ways - because if we can’t know for sure that people are earning living wages then we have to call out the sustainable tag. And buy better. And less.” – Nicole Robins 

In the same way as the ethical fashion world is starting to ask - who made my clothes? -  this exhibition asks - who made my bag? Both questions arise from the Fashion Revolution movement, represented by organisations in over 100 countries around the world. In the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh in 2013, Fashion Revolution has campaigned for systemic reform of the fashion industry with a focus on the need for greater transparency in the fashion supply chain. Consumers have more power than they think when it comes to helping artisans and craftspeople to earn a reasonable living from their work. 

The exhibition continues until 13th October. South Australian jewellery artist, Regine Schwarzer, will also be exhibiting a new series of jewels inspired by the Australian Landscape. 

A workshop, Totes Playful is being offered during Sydney Craft Week to accompany the Totes Serious exhibition.

Bring an old Tote or basket bag you would like to upcycle or decorate and learn some new basketry skills at the same time. Basket maker Nicole Robins will teach some basketry and braiding techniques which can be used to replace old handles or add a colourful new dimension to bags and jewellery. 

Sat October 12th, 10am – 1pm, $60, 8 participants only. Book on the gallery website at -

Event starts
Thursday 26 September, 2019
Event ends
Sunday 13 October, 2019
Bridget Kennedy Contemporary Jewellery and Project
Venue Address
53 Ridge St, North Sydney

Sydney ,

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