"To create something that's inspired from vintage, but ethically produced and generating new employment for vulnerable women in developing country, I saw it as a means to be able to create something new. That it wasn’t just contributing to capitalism, but the growth of our world." For Montana Lower, this sentiment is at the centre of who she is. An unshakable hope for a better future for our planet, Lower is one who walks the walk potentially even more than she talks the talk. But when she does talk, she knows exactly what to say to get people excited. Her recent collaboration with Outland denim, High Hopes is a case in point. Designing a capsule with the first brand she ever worked with, the collaboration is not only a full-circle moment, but a clear alignment with Lower's strong moral code. The collection is comprised entirely of natural fibre denim, zero harmful chemicals, vegan materials, 100% traceable denim made with innovative water and energy saving technology. Below, we chat with Lower on the intention of the collection, her recent move to Tasmania - where we speak as she stokes the fire and curls up in an armchair - with her partner, Tom and daughter, Blue, and what it's like to strip it all back.
What was the inspiration behind the collection?
The inspiration behind the collection was the 70s revival. I wanted to make something that was comfortable, because I think with denim or fashion you can have these really form fitting silhouettes that you ideally would like to wear but don't end up wearing because it's uncomfortable. So I wanted to create something that had its own fun aesthetic, while also being classic and timeless and comfortable enough for you to wear for many seasons to come.
Why Outland? Was this your first fashion collaboration?
It was my first fashion collaboration; I love to collaborate with other people. Instead of bringing something new and trying to reinvent the wheel, I'd rather use it as an opportunity to refine the practices that are already in place together. I wanted to do it with Outland because roughly four years ago, I was a part of learning the sustainable washhouse in Cambodia, which works on reducing environmental pollution as well as the humanitarian impact through the creation of their jeans. They were kind of the only brand that I could be confident they would be making a positive impact on the planet.
You shop a lot of vintage and only purchase the necessities from ethical brands, so I wondered what the fundamental aspects were of creating your own collection?
It was mostly about creating something that was comfortable, that was 70s inspired, but also that it can be really hard to find vintage things in your sizes. And so, to create something that's inspired from vintage, but ethically produced and generating new employment for vulnerable women in developing country, I saw it as a means to be able to create something new. That it wasn’t just contributing to capitalism, but the growth of our world.
I guess I had also never found my perfect overalls. So I wanted to make my own because overalls are something that's so diverse that you can paint in or go out in.
So you’ve recently relocated from the Northern Rivers to Tasmania. What about this part of Australia?
We moved to Tasmania because of its wildly diverse landscape. And the rawness of the landscape here too. You can drive 10 minutes one way, and be on the tallest cliffs of the Southern Hemisphere and then go 10 minutes the other way and it's rolling grass hills looking over the ocean. It's just so it's just so beautiful. It is the most beautiful place I've ever lived. I also really love the culture, the artisan culture here is super inspiring. Even though it is a part of Australia, it does feel like a different part of the world, like a combination of New Zealand, Australia and Europe. I love that people here are really excited about helping the environment and Wabi Sabi.
Do you feel like you’re not in Australia?
Yeah, everyone calls Australia the mainland which I think is so funny. Where we live is on the peninsula, which is super remote, It's like an hour to the closest grocery store. So it's just that way of living, of cultivating community and growing your own food, and taking that convenience away really forces you to bring it back to simplicity and remember what it means to be human again.
Are you and Tom excited to get stuck into the garden?
We are so excited.
What's keeping you inspired?
My brain kind of always has inspiration, I feel like I am always inspired.
What do you think that is?
I think I've just got a really big life force. I have a lot of energy, and not even in a sense of running around and stuff. I'm not like that. It's probably actually because I don't run around. But yeah, I think this big life force, huge motivation to see change in the world and believe in a better world. And of course, Blue inspires me all the time. She's just like, new imagination and a new perspective. I feel like she's me before the world got to me, which reminds me who I am as well as exploring who she is.
So you and Tom lived in the bus for almost two years, which made you really cut back on what you own. What were the five things you always had with you?
Definitely a good pair of overalls, A simple skincare routine, which is now my brand Bluem. The finger lime serum and Konjac sponge can get me through anything, a funky cup. Ah, geez. I don't even have five essentials. Maybe a lighter too, and a Tom.
What do you hope people take away from the Outland collection when they purchase it?
I think the whole point of creating the high hopes campaign, and the video, was about including everybody in a message of hoping for a better future because I think the whole world has had a shocking last couple of years and there have been very few moments that make us feel excited. It can just feel really endless. So it was important for me to infuse this collection with some high hopes and a reminder that we can create a better future together.
And then for those who actually purchase the collection, I hope that by wearing the pieces they not only feel really good, but also they feel good about their contribution. Because I know a lot of companies have green initiatives, but the difference with Outland is that humanitarian values are at the core of the business, not just an afterthought. It's like, the denim wouldn't exist if it weren't for the girls.