2012 Melbourne Design Awards

Key Dates

Photo Credit : www.mettleonline.com - www.jaredbeck.com.au


Project Overview

mettle - Fair Trade is the brainchild of a Melbourne based fashion designer who has worked within the industry for a number of years, both locally and abroad in London and Paris for design houses such as Alexander McQueen and Martin Grant.

Each piece is hand made, fair trade, limited edition treasures made from recycled bomb shell metal used by the Khmer Rouge. The entire range is produced in Cambodia within a small, non-profit income generation and skill training project. All pieces are finished to the highest quality standards and aim to combine contemporary styling with ethical consumption.


mettle - Fair Trade


mettle - Fair Trade is a project that was undertaken whilst I was returning home from working overseas in Europe in fashion design. It`s headed up by myself, Brianna Hallihan, and all of my amazing and talented co-op of Artisians based in Cambodia.

I came across my co-op working with recycled bomb shell metal and forming it into candle sticks. They needed work and support and I could see a way of helping them. With my degree in design and years of experience in the industry I saw potential in creating a product that was for a western aesthetic, using a unique material with the ethical consciousness that was being craved for. We went to work creating the first mettle sample range with this ethos in mind. All pieces are made from 100% recycled bombshell metal, is hand made, fair trade accredited, hypoallergenic and limited edition.

The aim of the project is to support small disadvantaged producers through a business relationship which is fair and non exploitative. We make sure people are well-supported seeing producers as people; not just as producers of goods.

The co-op inlisted by mettle is registered with the Cambodian government as a local association; a non-profit group owned by its members.

Project Brief

"If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything" - Alex Hamilton
The objective of mettle is quite simple really. People are going to consume, why not make them consume ethically. With this objective in mind we set out to create a range of products that first and foremos speak to the consumer through there beauty and quality of construction. After this first impression the range is to tick all the big 'eco' box`s;
-Fair Trade Accredited
-Hand Made
The project is set up to support small disadvantaged producers through a business relationship which is fair and non exploitative. To create growth and opportunity for them, whilst creating a sustainable business model for ourselves to be able to further grow the concept into other communities that need some help from there neighbour`s.

Project Innovation / Need

mettle - Fair Trade attempts to bring a new approach to the fashion market through altering the view of how products have to be produced on the back of third world countries to spin a buck. The project is set up to support small disadvantaged producers in a fair and non exploitative business practice. To create growth and opportunity for them whilst emulating a business model for a sustainable future.

We also use 100% recycled bombshell metal re-formed into a new life, this material is completely unique to mettle - Fair Trade and is new to the Australian market.

Design Challenge

(Q) Design challenge?
(A) starting a fashion forward product line in the heart of a third world country... you mention in your questioning "was it materials, was it understanding the market, was it timing & communication"? My answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE!

Materials - working within the set up of the co-op is very primitive. Access to standard equipment is not an option for them and so everything is hand formed and worked. Skill set`s are not always there and have to be worked around.

Understanding the market - I am still attempting to put my business hat on and understand the workings of my market. And now selling offshore to the United States this process gets all the more complicated. But given our success in such a small window of time and in a trying retail climate, we must be doing something right!

Timing & Communication - Getting pieces produced in a timely manor is difficult given what we have to work with and communication is trying for both parties with limited understanding of each other`s language. But through the visual language we get there and create our beautiful products.


The entire mettle - Fair Trade range is produced working with 100% recycled bomb shell metal used by the Khmer Rouge. The material is exclusive to mettle and unfortunately there is plenty of it. The metal is cleared from the earth still to this day and is in ample supply. We attempt to create a new positive life for the metal whilst still remembering it`s harrowing past.

This award recognises a component or overall product. Consideration given to all aspects that relate to human usage, aesthetics, selection of materials, and resolution of the overall function.
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