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R87’s road to Aussie-made sustainable fashion

Abbie Tiller

Jess Nourse is amongst a new wave of fashion designers embracing a greener approach to one of the highest polluting industries in the World.  But for the Clare designer, the road to sustainable fashion began back in ’87, with a pair of ripped jeans and some bleach, rocking her way through her teenage years.

Ripped in ’87 is now producing quality, classic, Australian made clothing, made to last the test of time.
Remember wearing ‘hand-me-downs? That was before manufacturers began churning out “fast response” fashion in the early 90’s. Since then, the fashion industry has grown to be the second-largest industrial polluter, accounting for about ten percent of global pollution, ranking higher than emissions from air travel and maritime transport combined.

For Jess, designing and producing great clothing isn’t her only passion, keeping the Australian Manufacturing Industry alive is also very important to her and she’s spent many hours sourcing “Australian Made” wherever possible.

“Some of the cotton is grown in parts of Australia and sent offshore to be spun. It is then knitted, dyed and finished to a beautiful quality fabric by our Australian owned and operated textile manufacturer in Victoria,” Jess said.


From her side-hustle sewing room in her Service SA and Services Australia agency in Clare, Jess meticulously designs each piece, creates the pattern and sews her own samples for her manufacturer in Adelaide.  Every detail, down to the eyelets made by a third generation manufacturer in Victoria, is crafted on home soil. Even the funky R87 ribbon garments are wrapped in are made from recycled plastic bottles, sourced from an Australian company.

“I know that choosing to source and manufacture within Australia is more expensive than going offshore, but to me it is worth the price tag in quality, sustainability and sovereignty,” Jess said.

The R87 range includes the Signature black, white and beige Hoodie collection for men and women, with an ultra comfy curved hem, mid-length sweat shorts with discreet and functional in seam side pockets, a matching stylish and comfy kids range and now, Signature R87 socks. A classic collared polo is due to be released soon.

“I have always believed that feeling good in what you wear has a huge impact on your mood and your confidence,” Jess said.
“I have always put thought into what I wear. Every outfit. Every day. Even my ‘stay at home and do the housework’ outfit.
For me, what I wear is more important than where I am going. So I guess starting my own clothing label was a natural progression. It was meant to be.”


But like the road to most dreams, there are often bumps along the way, and in Jess’s case there’s been some major detours to navigate.

“I actually started designing R87 eleven years ago with my own design ripped jeans similar to the style I made in 1987 and was at the final sample stage but sadly couldn’t afford to keep going (paying pattern makers, buying fabric, logo design etc) which is why and when I started the Service SA and Services Australia Agency,” she said.

“I came back to it three years ago, but in the form of the matching family hoodies and sweat shorts and plans for a variety of classic staples.”

But in 2021 Jess hit another fork in the road – a diagnosis of aggressive breast cancer. And in a cruel twist of fate, she battled her biggest hurdle alongside her Mum, who sadly lost her battle with breast cancer earlier this year.

While she employed a friend to take the reigns at the office, Jess still worked on her dream, designing and sourcing trims and fabrics when her brain wasn’t “foggy” from treatment. “R87 became even more important to achieve and I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into it ever since.”

And it’s certainly paying off. Although she says there’s still a little more road to be travelled before she can claim the ultimate success, Jess was honoured to be named in The Advertiser’s 80 Most Innovative businesswomen in South Australia.

To shop the Australian made Ripped in 87 range click here.




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