Intent Editor
Sigrid McCarthy

What is Intent Journal?

Intent is a publication that explores the ethics of style. It facilitates an open and honest dialogue around ethics in fashion, and encourages a level of mindfulness that is currently lacking in both the fashion industry and world at large. Shaped by the core messages of the Slow Fashion movement, Intent shares the stories of people from all walks of life with the intention of inspiring a greater appreciation for what we wear.

Acknowledging that the term ‘ethical fashion’ is subjective and influenced by one’s values, Intent provides a platform for reflection. We encourage greater traceability and respect for clothing by reconnecting the designer, maker and wearer. We look to words such as purpose, impact, function, craftsmanship, longevity, lifecycle and transparency. We place emphasis on curated wardrobes, price per wear, transeasonal design and learning to live happier with less.

Intent is in many ways an outward reflection of my personal taste—there is a strong focus on timeless style as opposed to fleeting trends and seasons. Intent is not marketed as an ethical fashion magazine, as we do not feel there should be any distinction between ‘ethical fashion’ and ‘other’. As the Editor, I’m conscious of Intent appealing to its audience through good design and innovation. I believe ethics should remain an undertone that complements the journal’s aesthetic.

How did Intent Journal come about?

Having worked in the ethical fashion space for a while now, I’ve come to realise just how complex the issues are. I believe that in order for significant change to take place, we need to take the time to better understand our personal values and how these influence the way we engage with what we wear.

As a notorious over-thinker, I have become fascinated by the fashion industry and how it is evolving. Intent was essentially born out of this growing interest and a desire to learn. The more I learn, the more I worry that people are trying to oversimplify something that is in fact very complicated. Some people seem convinced that certain buzzwords are the solution to all of our problems. While they may indeed be part of the solution, I feel it’s important we dig deeper and look to the psychology of fashion—otherwise we run the risk of perpetuating the same unhealthy level of consumption but in a different form.

I’d like Intent to inspire people to be more mindful and begin asking questions. Why are we continuously filling our lives with items we don’t need or care about? Why do we expect so little from our clothing and forget to consider its actual purpose? How can we as individuals approach ethics in fashion and seek to understand our impact?

Knowing that there is a fine line between informing and preaching, I’m conscious of not pushing Intent’s agenda too strongly. Most people don’t appreciate having their habits, beliefs or lifestyles directly challenged, and their reaction is to reject whatever point is being made. While Intent is to a certain degree an extension of me challenging the norm, I don’t want it to come across as though I’m judging or shaming others. The framing of Intent’s message is forever being fine-tuned.

Sigrid McCarthy

“I see a real need for a fashion publication to exist that questions the system itself and navigates possible ways forward. I’m hoping that Intent Journal can be this publication.”

Why did you feel the need to start Intent Journal?

To some degree, Intent Journal stems from my own anxieties and inability to keep up with today’s manic pace. Like many people I find it overwhelming and, as cheesy as it sounds, I seek refuge in Intent. I'm hoping that by celebrating the work of likeminded people and connecting with them in an open and sincere way, I'll learn more about myself and what my purpose is in this space.

I have my own reading of ethics in fashion but as I mentioned earlier, Intent is not about giving people answers or pushing my own agenda—it is a platform that allows people to share their interpretations. For a long time now I’ve felt that there is a lack of insight and exploration in fashion writing and publications. With developments in technology, we’ve seen a shift in the way fashion is communicated. Live streaming via digital media means the fashion writer’s role has to a certain degree been made redundant. We no longer need them to describe to us what they’ve experienced at a runway show because we can experience the colours and silhouettes with our own eyes. I see a real need for a fashion publication to exist that questions the system itself and navigates possible ways forward. I’m hoping that Intent Journal can be this publication.

How do your personal values inform your work?

Growing up in the bush, I was raised with a strong connection to nature and was fortunate enough to have a family that supported curiosity and independence. My parents instilled in me a great appreciation for learning; I love being around people who can teach me and open my mind to new ways of thinking. These qualities have very much informed my adult life and my decision to launch Intent Journal.

My mother has always had a lovely sense of style and been drawn to the quality of a garment, not the brand or price tag. I remember admiring her classic, well-considered uniform as she was talking to other mums in the schoolground; she knew what suited her and how to hold herself. She has always believed in wearing the same pieces often and mending things before replacing them. A real simple elegance and air of chic that I’d hoped would be passed down, and an attitude that has since become ingrained in me.

As a teenager, I couldn’t get behind the insatiable appetite for clothing that those around me seemed to have developed. I didn’t feel holier-than-thou in my attitudes but it definitely put me at a distance from friends when I’d resist their suggestions to go to the shopping centre for a few cheeky bargains. I couldn’t quite understand why they wanted to buy such poorly made clothing only to look like everyone else, so it was around the age of 15 that I began exploring op shops. At the time I didn’t think of the ethics behind my choices—I just liked the quality and uniqueness that was inherent to thrifting.

These days, my attitude towards fashion is influenced by my work at Ethical Clothing Australia. I'm excited by transparency in business and the commitment to protecting makers. Without these makers, there would be no final product so we need to value their time and stop separating ourselves from their work. After all, there is so much beauty and skill in the process itself, and one cannot talk about ethics in fashion without taking into consideration the lives of workers.

Sigrid McCarthy

"One thing I feel quite strongly about is not outwardly displaying my internal values. I am left in my politics and love hugging a nice tree as much as the next hippie, but nothing about my style suggests this. I’ve never been able to understand why some people feel the need to look a certain way in order to communicate their politics or values."

How would you describe your relationship with clothing and style?

I would say I use clothing to communicate two sides of myself. The first side is my professional or public self, which projects a certain air of seriousness. This uniform if you will consists of solely black and rarely exposes skin—I feel much more confident when I am cocooned in all black from head to toe. I find it comforting to wear this uniform as it makes me feel powerful and self-assured, even when I might not be feeling that way deep down. I rarely buy new clothing and have no qualms with wearing the same pieces often (provided they’re clean), so going through photos can look like the same day, just different location!

The other side of myself is undeniably daggy and only comes out when I’m around those I’m truly comfortable with. When I visit my family for example, I’ll pack next to nothing and live in dad’s oversized jumpers and shirts. I’ll get around in hiking boots, and old jeans spotted with paint. Stripping back to this sort of attire makes me feel more relaxed, as though I’m on holidays.

One thing I feel quite strongly about is not outwardly displaying my internal values. I am left in my politics and love hugging a nice tree as much as the next hippie, but nothing about my style suggests this. I’ve never been able to understand why some people feel the need to look a certain way in order to communicate their politics or values.

I could go on about my relationship with style until the cows come home, but I’ll finish by saying that I think style is a beautiful and powerful thing, and something very personal. Everyone has his or her own relationship with clothing, so I’m excited for Intent Journal to explore and celebrate this.

Who is behind Intent Journal?

Intent Journal is a small group of friends that have each contributed an invaluable skillset and level of thinking to the project. I feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to collaborate with these young creatives; they’ve helped build this concept into something tangible. Without them Intent would only be an internal dialogue between me, myself and I.

The core team consists of:

Olivia Smythe, Fashion Director
Dylan McDonough, Art Director
Nathanael Rice, Music Editor
Reb Mery, Sub Editor
Claire Summers, Resident Photographer

We’re fortunate that the people we’ve approached thus far have seen merit in the project and taken the time to share their experiences and readings of ethics in fashion. Some have said that they’ve found the profile to be a rewarding process, as it has allowed them the time to consider their own values and relationships with style. This gives me such a thrill as it means Intent, in some small way, is achieving its mission already.

What are you wearing in your portrait?

I'm by no means perfect in my shopping habits, but for the most part my clothing has been sourced via op shops, consignment stores or independent labels. These particular shoes were found in an op shop in my hometown, St.Andrews. I couldn't believe how perfectly they fit, and they'd barely been worn so were in excellent condition. I found this woollen knit in my grandma's cupboard last time I visited her in country Victoria (thanks nan, if you're reading this). My rings are from Al-ma and Mavro, both of which have been handmade in Melbourne. Lastly, this skirt is from Scanlan Theodore, which is a local label accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia for its Australian made clothing.

Portrait by Claire Summers
Featured image by Ellie Rose Mclean
Thanks to Douglas and Bec