'I'm really proud of what we achieved': sass & bide founders receive honour

The founders of fashion label sass & bide say their brand is much more than that, it's also a chance to empower women around the globe.

Heidi Middleton and Sarah-Jane Clarke, who founded the women's fashion label in 1999, will be appointed as Members of the Order in the Queen's Birthday ceremony for the pair's longstanding charity work and their contributions to the fashion industry.

"I think anybody who has a voice in any industry, it's very important to use that voice to create awareness of these important matters, and for Heidi and I, it was empowering mothers and children," Ms Clarke said. "I think [the honours] show that no matter what industry you are in, you can still empower others through your actions."

In 2012, the brand collaborated with the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a joint body of the UN and World Trade Organisation, to work with the women of East Africa, creating two sass & bide bags. The money raised selling the bags was donated to the African designers.

The brand also teamed up with charity organisation Barnardos in 2009, managing to raise over $250,000 for Australian children living in poverty, and provided women fleeing domestic violence with sass & bide clothing with Barnardos.

"At the end of the day, new clothes, no matter what they are, provides women with confidence," Ms Clarke said. "I'm really proud of what we achieved at sass & bide and it's really humbling to be recognised for that work."

Myer took full ownership of the company in September 2013, with the pair going their separate ways since. After a four-year fashion hiatus, Sarah-Jane Clarke returned with her own independent brand in late 2018, creating wardrobe collections for travellers. Heidi Middleton made the move to France to reconnect with her creative roots.

"We are still very dear friends who talk daily," Ms Middleton said. "The charitable work that we do with foundations that are close to our heart has always been important from the early days to now and it's something that we feel is important to weave throughout our careers."

(This article first appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald)

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