Sustainable and toxin-free living

Sustainable and toxin-free living

How I’m Livin’: ALAS Designer Kelly Ekin on Her Sustainable Sydney Life

Alas designers Bet & Kelly
Alas designers Bet & Kelly
ALAS designers Betony and Kelly

Don’t you want to be the kind of lady with fancy pajamas?

I think that might be one of the signs you’ve become an adult lady, when you trade in your old lacrosse shorts and ratty sorority t-shirt for a chic set of “loungewear.” You know, for lounging about your well-appointed apartment, with a book, a pet or a significant other in your lap.

It seems especially important to have your sleep wear be sustainable, as you’ll be snuggling up in it for (hopefully) more than eight hours. That’s where ALAS comes in, with its teddies, bloomers, PJs, pants, tees, jumpsuits and long johns, all in organic fabrics.

The ALAS label has been long recognized in Australia and now the US for its simple, graceful style and a devotion to ethical fashion. The latest collection explores bright geometric prints and a handful of florals inspired by the Australian wilderness. Plus, ALAS pajama sets come packaged in beautiful recycled boxed: a perfect gift to unwrap on a chilly Christmas or Hanukkah morning by the fire.

With ALAS now available in the US for the first time on Shopbop, I got one of the founders, Kelly Ekin, to give EcoCult readers a mini sustainable tour of her Sydney. (Betony is currently traveling through India, lucky gal.)

What’s your favorite Sydney restaurant?

Kepos Street Kitchen has the tastiest tabouli and the most amazing almond and rose water rice pudding, it’s out of this world. But Yulli’s is also amazing. Everything is local, even the gin and tonic!

ALAS fabrics
ALAS organic fabrics in the studio

Your fave Sydney bar?

Earl’s in Enmore, an old butcher, converted into an old jazz bar.

Describe your perfect Sunday.

Wake up early, head to the markets for groceries and flowers, late breakfast, beach times or listening to Neil Young drinking cider, gardening with friends!

You can only see one musical artist perform this year–who do you choose?

Kurt Vile.

What’s your favorite place to shop in Sydney?

Poepke or The Standard Store.

eco-friendly pajamasYour favorite Sydney-made brand?

Mim Fox, kaleidoscopic digi prints and cool cuts.

You have three days free to get the heck out Sydney. Where do you go?

Up to the Hawkesbury river. Stay in a boat shed, no roads, no internet, no phone, no TV. Just exploring islands and the surrounding national parks in a little boat. It is eerily quiet for only an hour away from the city. We even saw echidnas last time!

Do you vintage shop? Where do you go?

Mostly straight to the Salvation Army or Vinnies. However, when I am feeling lazy, Grandma Takes a Trip or Cream have nicely curated clothing.

What your non-green guilty pleasure?

I love flying (insert horrified face here), but it beats the nine-hour bus or eight-hour train ride home to visit my family in the countryside!

How has living sustainably change your life for the better?

I am far from perfect, but living with sustainability in mind makes me appreciate the smaller things in life and the quieter moments. It is a more holistic and healthy way to life.

Do you ever lecture your friends on their non-green choices?

Yes, sometimes! But the older I get the more positive I am. Gone are my picketing and protesting days. I prefer the stealth approach … positive information instead of always negative!

What do you find most challenging about living sustainably?

Living in the city, it feels like the minute you walk out the door it is tempting to buy, buy, buy! Going against convenience and putting in the effort to consciously live more sustainably can sometimes be a challenge.

When it’s yellow, do you let it mellow?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. (Depending on who is around!)


  • Alden Wicker

    Alden Wicker is an award-winning investigative journalist and author of To Dye For: How Toxic Fashion Is Making Us Sick — and How We Can Fight Back (Putnam). She splits her time between managing her internationally recognized platform on safe and sustainable fashion,, and contributing to publications such as The New York Times, Vox, Wired, Vogue, and more. She’s made expert appearances on NPR’s Fresh Air, the BBC, and Al Jazeera to speak on consumer sustainability and the fashion system’s effect on people and the planet.

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