Well it’s May already. May always means something to me, over and above the other months of the year. A few things come to mind. First of all, it is my birthday month. Second it is the time of Fashion Week, (albeit not this year). Thirdly it is the time of year when my heart breathes a sigh of relief, the leaves fall, and with it any lingering heavy energies slip away, ready to be transformed by the crisp and present coolness of winter. A time of reflection, nurturing and the potential creation of ideas ready to ignite and blossom in the Spring. One such project has been in the creative stages for quite some time now, and as all creative people know dreams are not and should not, be manifested too hastily. Continue Reading…
Well, here it is.
The article on social media I have been promising for years. You will notice that I have named it Unsocial Media, so at this junction you will glean an insight into my feelings on the subject. For those who know me professionally and personally you will know that this is a subject close to my heart and you will also be well versed in my opinion about social media and the destruction it causes in peoples lives, young and old. Those same people have been asking repeatedly when I was going to write this article which I have contemplated for a very long time.
For reasons unknown even to myself, apart from my own intuition, I have resisted until now.
It seems the time is now.
For the longest time, I have been watching, observing, discussing, and lamenting the some positives but largely negative impacts of the shiny, interactive platforms we call “social media”. It is a contentious subject at the very least, and one which creates very heated responses very quickly in any group you care to mention, but especially the fashion industry. For at least the last three years at Sydney Fashion Week, sadly cancelled this year, this discussion has been one that doesn’t get old. Most people I’ve spoken with have a love/hate relationship with it for a plethora of valid reasons.
In our current global situation, where social media is playing an even greater role in the lives of nearly everyone we know, it has become alarmingly apparent to me that platforms upon which the fashion world particularly focuses has reached the lowest ebb ever. You might ask which platforms I am referring to? Well, Instagram mostly and Facebook to a lesser degree as I think it is no longer patronised by the fashion world to the extent it once was.
I have seen a rapid decline in interesting content on Instagram and in my opinion it has just turned into a tart. A once interesting, varied, high quality content experience has now mutated into a highly inane and dissatisfying experience of scrolling, and subjection to copious amounts of people yelling at me through automated videos about subjects which hold no interest or connection to my account. Advertisements that I spend my life trying to lessen (when I can be bothered) answering Instagram’s questions about “why I don’t want to see this”. Followed by nauseating low level porn that I have grown so tired of seeing that my eyes glaze over at having to semi-accept the garbage being presented as “content”.
In the hope of not offending anyone, it is also rapidly turning into a vehicle of self promotion for many. Even in the current global circumstances, where most fashion people have literally gone from working jobs to not at all, I have witnessed quite a number of people continuing to self promote, instead of creating vehicles that collectively help the many in order to drive change and hope for all of our fashion futures.
I cannot be the only person who is so irritated by Instagram brands who have no real brick and mortar presence, and therefore no real “skin in the game’. Massive followings, important Instagram space, yes. Don’t we have to question the actual contribution to the industry? Is it not a question of ethics? We are now so vocal about the ethical responsibility of brands, the hows and the wheres of their production but yet we fail to discuss the ethical presence of those brands on social media and the impact they have on the real fashion and retail platforms.
Then of course, there is the subject of the “influencer” and the role they should be allowed to play within our fashion world. Both difficult subjects I know, and believe me, I have been present in so many discussions around both these subjects. I know how contentious they are and have been in a few heated discussions of my own. I don’t say that there is no place for these things but I am a big fan of bringing elements to the fashion industry at large that serve the collective and not individuals. Our industry can no longer afford or sustain this selfish approach of self serving and self important behaviour. Things are way too dire for that. I believe our focus needs to be around contribution and what serves our collective interests and subsequent global recognition.
Rightly or wrongly, I have a very small Instagram following. I think the term for someone like me is a “micro-influencer” in the sense that my following genuinely follows my fashion work. Importantly, I don’t feel the need to have a large following, and as a dear friend and professional colleague of mine said, “keeping track of and controlling social media is a job in itself and if you are a solo business person it’s often hard to do this. You find yourself wasting time trying to work on your social media presence instead of working on your strengths within your business. I find that I have the potential to waste a lot of time trying to understand growing a business via social media, which can be frustrating when that is not your strength. It can also be hard to navigate the authenticity of accounts and products, as people tend to believe in products simply if they have a good account with lots of followers, which can be just smoke and mirrors”.
Perfectly described don’t you think? And no, she is not old like I am so it is not a generational difference.
To further this narrative, some years ago now, I well remember speaking to another in the fashion world; a beautiful, successful, young woman who described her feelings around social media like she was a cardboard cutout due to the isolation she felt due to the pressures put upon her by social media. The expectations, the perfect lifestyle, and the constant perceived requirement to post content, several times each day, which would serve to impress or dare I say “trump”, her followers and friends. I am not suggesting that she fell into this trap, because, we all know it is a trap, right? I am only describing the sentiment of her words and the potential debilitating consequences and subsequent feelings of inadequacy and misery for those who do succumb to its powers. A very real problem in our current world wrapped up in our collective addiction to devices, low attention spans, and our unhealthy patterns of communicating through devices versus open communication.
She also commented that she struggled to come to terms with the level of comparison she felt in all aspects of her life because of her social media accounts. This ranged from her hair, body and beauty choices, her choice of boyfriend, her living quarters, her lifestyle, hobbies and diet. She explained that she felt this led to an inauthentic expression of herself and the resulting inability to live a life that was just her own. She felt the pressure to keep up with her friends and their illusory social media lives was at times, crushing, and perhaps even worse, that her most personal moments, those which she cherished alongside her greatest disappointments were exposed not only for everyone to see, but for all and sundry, many of whom were complete strangers, to comment on and gloat over. My heart melted when I heard her describe the effect social media had had on her young life. Simultaneously, I was extremely heartened to witness her realisation that her own common sense and innate sense of self prevailed as she declared she did not need social media to revel in her own authenticity and shine in her own beautiful essence.
I post to Instagram rarely now. Largely because I am genuinely busy and partly because I don’t want to bore people with content about nothing. I post when I feel I can motivate, inspire or uplift people who genuinely follow my work and whom I can help. In essence, I try only to share the love and the passion of the work I do in Australian Fashion.
My dear friend went on to say, “I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I don’t spend a lot of time on it because I recognise that it can put me in a negative state of mind. I enjoy it in small doses”. She went on to say, “on the other hand I don’t like the feeling that you may be missing out on some particular thing. Being able to look at so many different activities in one quick moment makes you feel you should be packing more into your day/life. It often confuses what your values are in relation to others. For example, seeing a picture of a mother baking with their child all of a sudden makes you feel like you should be baking with your children, when this isn’t necessarily a passion of yours.
It can create unnecessary anxiety in this way.
I don’t often feel jealous because I want people to have amazing lives and love people doing well and succeeding. This makes me feel happy, but social media sometimes makes me feel like I’m not doing/achieving what I should be”.
An older person I know, and a mother of three told me that all her kids are completely addicted to social media, particularly her teenage daughter. She said that she personally used social media as a tool, as she regarded it as beneficial and informative for shopping, trends, and news.
Hmmm. I don’t know what I think about that. Shopping? Well, maybe.
Trends? Does the world actually have trends anymore? I think we’ve moved past that.
News? Well, let’s not go there.
She did make the comment that in their (kids) head, social media was their link to the rest of the world and that it was an addiction. I liked her honesty.
My focus is really on whether social media is negative or positive and how it relates to the fashion world. So on we go.
There is something else that really worries me about the social media world and its particular relevance to the fashion world.
It is just me? … or are many young women and men starting to look like each other?
This insistent and consistent trend for the young ones to look the “same” is really disturbing.
Why and how have we created and consented to a world where individual differences are not celebrated? I am not talking about runways, only general audience here. Why have our levels of self esteem plummeted to the all-time-low of not being comfortable with ‘who we truly are’, and if this is truly the paradigm we are happy to accept, what depths of despair awaits us?
Is the older generation of fashionistas responsible for this and if so, did we not have a duty of care to mentor this younger generation of fashion followers? This tendency to over-do everything … fake tan, enhancing boobs, eyelashes, waistlines, and butts is not only ugly but completely unnatural not to mention the shellac! I don’t want to think for a nano second what the health implications might be down the track and don’t even start me on the eyebrows!!! You can hate me if you want, but I say, it is time to reclaim our natural beauty and encourage the young ones to do the same, in all our glory. We all possess beauty in one form or another, and the tendency to want to look like each other is an aspect which belongs to sheep not the human race.
My purpose in writing this article is not to bad mouth social media as part of me does recognise its benefits, although I do believe that many accounts are reducing to all time lows as every day passes. I do however see a lot of misery and sadness created by this illusory reality which takes us away from our blessed daily lives and the beautiful experience that living in every moment can provide. Whilst our heads are buried in our phones and our social media accounts, real opportunities and real life friendships are walking by. I encourage you to be led by your heart, and return to your true fashion souls. Be who you are and be proud of you. Be strong in your sense of self and by all means, beautify your magnificent self. I don’t mean to put guidelines around what this might mean for you as individuals, for of course, that is not my place. I also love to beautify myself, and for all the people that love and know me … they will tell you … I am as vain as all Hell!
Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!
In the heyday of my styling years, I used to tell the scores of women and men I styled, and occasionally even now when I fall back to that work, “look into that mirror and have the courage to see the beautiful soul that is looking back at you. Allow your tears to flow in the realisation of who you truly are, and adorn your magnificent self appropriately”.
It seems the pertinent moment in time to let all you beautiful fashion people know, that I have cried real tears for the state of the fashion world right now. I come however with a message of great hope and to let all of you know that all will be well.
Yes, our industry will change and perhaps the new fashion world will be unrecognisable to some. It is a change that has been coming for a very long time, and one that is timely and sadly, very necessary.
Our new fashion space will be refreshingly re-calibrated, and those people who were temporarily acting as place holders, but who never really cared, will fall away.
Those who remain will be the real deal ; The leaders ; Those who hold, and who always have, held the vision of what is to come and those who possess the ability to take it to new heights ; Those people will rebuild the amazingness of what has never been in question – the brilliance of Australian Fashion.
Be a vehicle of light everyone and hold your heads high. This too shall pass and when it does, the landscape of Australian Fashion will never look so bright …
Watch this space.
Until next time,
So here we are again.
Fashion Week 2019.
It started with a bang last night at the AJE show which opened the week and which all fashionistas and industry heavy-weights wait for.
My fashion family are around me again. Simply. Excitement and hugs all ’round.
Day 1 this year is the day ‘The Innovators’, the FDS Alumni get to show Australian fashion devotees what they are truly capable of, not to mention the direction in which our beloved industry is travelling.
I am always in awe of the talent which struts that runway and this year will be no different. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that we are in for something really special.
I literally can’t wait to grace the FROW. I don’t always get to sit in the FROW and I am totally happy with that. I feel privileged to be able to attend any of the shows and feel blessed to be seated at all.
Sitting in the front row however at The Innovators show is an essential, because it is from this vantage point that I and many others can truly appreciate the blood, sweat and tears which have been spilled over these intricate and varied collections. Every detail, stitch, and beads of anxious perspiration that has baptised every, single, piece.
For these young designers, Fashion Week is EVERYTHING.
It is their introduction to playing with the Big Kids on the Block, and I should imagine it has its bloody scary moments.
I sat down and had a chat with Alex Zehntner, Senior Design Lecturer, followed by some insights of some of the designers who will be showing this year.
Please … Share the LOVE!
Senior Design Lecturer, person extraordinaire, lover of style, and creative mentor to Fashion Design Studio is utterly dedicated to the legacy we create for Australian emerging fashion designers.
We caught up this morning and he shared his thoughts about why FDS churns out the most fabulous talent, time and again, each and every year filling our fashion minds with respect and our fashion hearts with joy.
“All our full time staff have been with the school for over a decade, and have exceptional hands-on skills in all areas. We also work closely and carefully with industry experts who act as guest lecturers in their areas of speciality. Also, our part time teachers are currently working in the Australian fashion industry.
We are committed to teaching our students the importance of conceptual and original thinking. To understand the crucial and full aspects of the design process is key – from inception through to completion. There is enormous focus on traditional hand skills such as bespoke tailoring, couture hand finishing, menswear and sportswear, textile printing and surface design.
All students must be committed to building and successfully developing strong skills in all areas of fashion, fashion design, the history of fashion and its evolution, pattern cutting, drawing, textile and CAD design as well as business acumen.
This is done extensively and students dedicate hours to each subject. They must be deemed competent in order to pass each subject allowing them opportunity to continue on with the course.
Once they have completed two very intense years they are required to focus on a third year, culminating in their fashion design degree. This final year is filled with notions of collaborations and sustainability and this is infused consistently throughout the course. Also, in this final year, the students are guided through the global fashion industry and introduced to local and international artisans and contacts to create their final collections.
We already have a fabulous vehicle to showcase the seemingly never-ending talent that is FDS, but we need the industry itself to support emerging designers through financial grants, government interest and funding. A general nurturing and support from Australian industry platforms at large is necessary.
It is our greatest desire to see this sector grow so that we are able to provide the proper legacy for this country’s future fashion designers; something so many who have gone before, have been able to take for granted”.
Alex Zehntner – Senior Lecturer, Fashion Design Studio.
Sarah Moore – MANON
I began my career in nutrition after studying Health Science straight out of school, however I felt that something was missing from my life. After a period of reflection I decided follow my passion for beautiful, interesting and unusual fashion and become a fashion designer.
My short term plan was to work for a label so I could gain some insights into the industry and how it works. Now that I have completed fashion design I dream of having my own label and potentially working away from Sydney.
My label, MANON possesses a dark and moody tone. It sits in alignment with my desire to finding beauty in the duality and darker things in life.
I am drawn to monochromatic looks and garments which promote the layering of texture versus colour.
My choice in using limited colours forces me to broaden my aesthetic through the mastering of patterning and textile manipulations. Establishing the “signature” of my brand was the easiest part, and it is deeply linked in with my true nature and aspirations. My process is always developed around the particular mood and feeling that I want to convey and is always represented in the mixed media images which I create.
The target age for my brand is for women between 25-40 as I feel there is a significant gap in the market for this demographic. I focus on sustainability in my design process and this allows me to create garments which are “forever wearable”. I pay attention to utilising subtraction cutting methods which importantly reduce fabric wastage and wherever possible I include locally sourced natural fibres. FDS is not for the faint hearted. The course is tough and full-on, but I have left with enormously strong skills. I am extremely grateful for the wealth of knowledge which I can now confidently build my fashion future on.
It’s very easy to learn to sew, design and create, but to take all this to a further level, requires an immense amount of well, sacrifice.
To manifest the dream of fashion week, every waking second must be devoted to the cause. For me being mentally prepared and strong is a very important aspect. Sitting in four walls, most days, can take its toll. Having systems in place to stay focused and motivated is important. Ted-Talks, fashion documentaries and fashion movies have kept me inspired. Strong support systems, family and my teachers at college with whom I could be open and honest were key.
Studying, FDS industry night, and now Fashion Week. My biggest anxiety was being able to juggle everything. I was never concerned about my skill of sewing, cutting or construction. I work 3-4 days in the industry and am blessed to have a brilliant team of hand sewers who did help me with hand work and embellishments.
Australian born to Lebanese parents, provided the combination of two very different cultures and has allowed me to break the mould of couture in Australian fashion. The excess and luxury of middle eastern fashion flows through my collections and my label is totally made in Australia.
This years collection “Azrael” is a narrative based on women and mental and emotional trauma. My demographic is women who have an appreciation for quality, handmade and intricately detailed garments. Couture is a very detailed, precise and tactile form of construction.
I’ve always loved the notion of a “Couture Maison”. To create an empire, home based to live, work, and meet clients is my dream.
One of the few things that the Australian fashion platform is missing, is support.
Label Ministry and other similar platforms are a fundamental cog in the fashion machine. It is so important that there are people writing about designers, getting to know who they are, what they do, and how they get to the point of creating a collection.
I find that Australian fashion has long been extremely commercialised; the sad reality is that designers that once made it due to their innovation and creativity are slowing acquiescing to the demands of what sells.
Mia Rodriguez – Mi’an’Mar
I’ve literally always wanted to be a fashion designer – right down to my early days in kindergarten where we asked to draw what we wanted to be. Mine said. Mia – Fashion Designer.
It means a great deal to be involved in Fashion Week. Long, long nights and hard work have paid off.
The opportunity is something I have been working towards for the last three years of my fashion life. I hope that literally everyone loves my collection.
Building dreams of a career in fashion is not an easy thing to accomplish and it is platforms like Label Ministry which help us to gain confidence in our careers, bringing publicity and attention through the coverage of our journeys, and to instil the importance in our minds of working hard and understanding that this equals success.
I have enormous confidence in my designs as I alone know, how much work goes into them. Naturally I hope that the industry at large will see this too. The fashion world is so hectic, but it is really a buzz to see everyone gathering around a runway to see what I have been designing and creating.
I’ve had a blast at FDS and looking back on it I have experienced such amazing moments. Our buying trip to China and India with our incredible design teacher, and then on to Paris and London for couture. Now Fashion Week! It’s so incredible.
I think the teachers at Fashion Design Studio … ROCK!
They care so much and they really push for all of us to succeed and excel!
In the lyrics of a song I liked, I remember the words … “He is not fancy; he just wears black”.
This epitomised the underlying basis of my brand aesthetic and largely formed the reason I use so much colour.
I think it’s fun to be bold and to be seen! You only live once so why go under the radar?
I use illustrations for all my garments and I firmly believe the inside should be just as important as the outside. If you look inside of any of my garments you’ll see hand drawn printed linings that tell a story.
I think, being a part of the fashion industry it’s so hard not to compare your designs and style to others, but I think my most brilliant moment was realising that there is no point comparing and now I can really embrace myself, my aesthetic and joyfully, my fashion future.
Mi’an’Mar … stands on its own.
Ineson’s aesthetic is refined, sophisticated, deconstructed, with a focus on tailoring, feminine draping and silhouettes designed to flatter the body.
The label, while highly conceptual, is firmly focused on remaining wearable and long lasting. It is designed for women of all ages, not trend focused.
Ineson almost exclusively used natural fibres.
I am ethically aware, and where I have outsourced labour, it has been done in Australia and a fair wage has always been paid.
Once the label goes into production, I would need to produce overseas however I would strive to always seek ethical options.
I studied and continue to explore traditional and unique pattern making methods. My collection merges these processes and expands upon them. This experimental approach creates the innovative silhouettes and details that Ineson strongly identifies with.
I think my passion and skill in pattern making is what sets me apart. My design process is mainly pattern making. I am not a designer who can design through illustration – I design as I drape and pattern make.
The textiles for this collection are inspired by Kylie Minogue’s music video, Slow, a pop-culture reference rich with elements which draw inspiration from a Barcelona skyline, rippling waters, and sunbathers upon pool tiles.
I chose to study at FDS because of their incredible Alumni.
The intensity and fast pace of the course means that only the students with passion and talent are successful.
Meet the designers here |
Until next time,
So, Camilla and Marc opened Australian Fashion Week tonight in tandem celebration with their 15th Anniversary, with an incredible show!
Well, of course it was incredible … it was Camilla and Marc!!! What more would one expect?
I loved the feeling of this show. Firstly, it was reminiscent of times past as it was held at the iconic Sydney space, The Royal Hall of Industries at Moore Park.
I was so delighted to see this gorgeous collection … beautiful brocades in pale palettes graced the runway followed by the re-invention of traditional power suiting. I think I even detected some shoulder pads, matched in strength by the oversized double breasted jacket in various checks with very lengthy arms. A little impractical you might say … but bloody fantastic on the runway! Continue Reading…
For those who embrace rebellion and eccentricity every day.
Angela Lowe, EWOL
Fashion Design Studio, TAFE NSW Ultimo, is the home of many famous people.
If you wait for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week every year with the highest anticipation then welcome to my world.
If fashion is your thing you’re in the right place.
If emerging talent is your passion, then let me personally thank you, because your love is much appreciated.
By oh! soooo many!
This is the story of “The Innovators”.
Graduates of Fashion Design Studio.
Where Sydney fashion design is concerned, FDS is the home and very solid bedrock of many iconic established Australian fashion labels … Dion Lee, Akira Isogawa, Christopher Esber, Gary Bigeni, Nicky Zimmerman, and Bianca Spender to name a few.
It is a creative hub of design excellence, like no other.
Led by experienced, devoted, passionate, brilliant educators like the famous Nicholas Huxley, the wonderful Sophie Drysdale and Andrea Cainero, the walls are lined with the distinct flavour of adventures just begun.
And the fashion talent just keeps oozing out … Every. Single. Year.
Meet, “The Innovators” at this years Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2017.
Amelia’s work is a reflection of all her interests; the inspiration of which is to embrace the classic feminine aesthetic and to represent a new-age feminine ideal. The collection is a combination of modernity and rebellion against traditional femininity. Internship at Zimmermann is where her specific interest in exceptional garment finishes and the perfect cut grew. Amelia was a winner in the World Square Fashion Illustration competition. During her final year of study, she collaborated with Vogue Australia and Witchery to create a piece for the ‘White Shirt Campaign’, in support of ovarian cancer. Recently pieces from her graduate collection appeared in the London-based ‘Schön’ magazine.
EWOL by ANGELA LOWE
Angela Lowe’s, EWOL exists at the periphery of normality. Where male and female overlap to create an ‘other’. Atypical in its use of material, its references and inspirations … EWOL blurs the boundaries of streetwear and high fashion to create wearable art worn by risk-takers. Those who relish the stares and the double takes.
Drawing inspiration from the juxtaposition of conflicting ideas – conviction and humour; masculinity and femininity. EWOL is for individuals who identify with a movement against the norm. For those who embrace rebellion and eccentricity every day. There are so many incredible things that we do not see with the naked eye.
A secret application to study fashion design, encouraged by her best friend and partner was the start of beautiful beginnings. As a child, Ann was an avid sketcher and would often design outfits for friends and family. It was only after partially completing an economics degree that she decided fashion was her real passion. She had found her voice, so to speak. YouTube tutorials helped Ann to learn the basics, followed by an internship with House of Quirky, Dion Lee, and Manning Cartell. She is now working as a womenswear and menswear design assistant at The Upside, with plans to look overseas to further broaden her horizons and gain insight into international markets.
CASEA by CASEA HEWITT
Cassie Hewitt released her first collection in December 2016. She has formerly interned with Manning Cartell, Bianca Spender, Carla Zampatti and Sara Phillips. Cassie was a finalist for the Australian Fashion Foundation’s Annual Scholarship Program, where she presented her graduate collection to industry leaders. This year Cassie went on to win the Graduate of the Year Award for Fashion and Textiles at the Design Institute of Australia.
Each CASEA piece tells a story through vibrant signature prints, rich colours, intricate embellishment, craftsmanship and luxurious fabrics. CASEA challenges the misconception that fast fashion is sufficient if the price is “right”. The brand’s accentuation on quality and craftsmanship aims to create a world where the trend of expendable fashion is diminished and a high value is placed on heirloom and sentimental pieces.
It took eighteen months for Emma Standon to identify her passion for designing swimwear and experimenting with bending the restricted rules of this fashion genre. Swimwear tends to be restricted in its ability to explore innovation in design, as functionality typically is the upmost priority.Fascinated by emerging technologies and the opportunities to explore innovative techniques in fashion design, Emma was especially interested by 3D printing. This was the spark which fuelled her interest in couture swimwear. This ideology, fused with underlining tones of sexual promiscuity and empowerment, became Handsy Swimwear.
Richard Giang is an Australian emerging fashion designer. Formerly an Architectural graduate at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), he decided to pursue his dream in the world of fashion. Richard’s designs are trans-seasonal, diverse, and wearable. Garments that evoke feelings of confidence, empowerment, sophistication and allure. His designs incorporate unique elements, techniques and textural fabrications that allow him to compromise and to create interesting aesthetic garments to suit all manner of occasions. Feminism and female empowerment are the foundations of his creativity, inspired by architecture, visual arts and Helmut Newton’s photography.
Johanna Smith was originally a teacher working in an isolated
Aboriginal community in far west NSW. Sheer isolation saw Johanna fall into a surreal entity of creative inspiration. The abstract arrangement of colour in outback Australia and the Aboriginal people became the embodiment, reference and muse of her label. The launch of YOHANA is infused with muddy hues and bold colour contrasts where obscure leather accents, cotton canvas and shirting are contrasted with lustrous texture.
Thank you to everyone who supports emerging Australian designers. They need your support, your interest, your passion, your encouragement, and your money. Please invest in their labels. Buy their product. Share the love by following their social media and …
LOVE Label Ministry on social, because the love starts here!
Until next time,
Runways are crucial to the development of fashion. They illustrate a moment in time, a shift in trends, a certain look, they reflect the current culture and they represent who we are. It’s not just a string of clothes on a catwalk – it’s a story. Runways are stories, and they’re special.
Claire Goldsworthy, The Fashion Advocate.
It’s that time of year again. VAMFF is here. The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival is fast approaching and the city of Melbourne and fashion devotees from far and wide make their way to the eighteen day long festival. As tribute to this years festival the star of this article is Claire Goldsworthy. A girl after my own heart.
She is the passionate fashionista and founder of the print and digital magazine, The Fashion Advocate and the creator of the collaborative brainchild, The Dress Collective. A collective of emerging Australian designers who manufacture their product in Australia.
This year Claire is at the helm. The Fashion Advocate Runway is a hand-picked collection of emerging Australian designers from around the country. As a vocal and passionate advocate of Australian fashion myself, this runway is one not to be missed by virtue of the fact that its focal point is Australian designers who manufacture in Australia.
Contrary to popular belief there are many emerging and established designers who still manufacture in Australia. In my opinion we should all be following them with great interest, applauding their ethics and moral values, and then setting aside our fashion budget to committing to buying their product, thus supporting their work, and most importantly keeping them in business.
Claire Goldsworthy describes “fast fashion” as “The dirty F-word”! I couldn’t agree more!
Why do we buy fast, dirty, cheap, badly made, unethically produced, highly pollutive fast fashion? Designs that are all too often ripped off from the world’s top designers?? If you have the answer, please let me know, because I am totally miffed as to why these fast fashion giants have such an enormous share of our fashion market. I have written many an article about supporting local Australian fashion and all of you who follow me (God love you all!), well know my opinion on this important subject. Some of you may have already read my article on the Zara Phenomenon …
Have we become such lazy and disinterested sheep that we are incapable of thinking for ourselves? Are we so disinterested in our own local fashion market, and our own economy that we have just given up fighting for what is right? Please. Pretty Please. Buy Australian Made Fashion. Support Australian Designers. Vote with your fashion dollar to create much needed change.
Anyhow, back to The Fashion Advocate.
Isn’t it just soooo refreshing to find someone who champions the importance of showcasing, supporting, and bringing to the spotlight, Australian designers, who produce sustainable, ethical product and manufacture in Australia.
Meet Claire Goldsworthy. She is. The Fashion Advocate.
Melbourne Entrepreneur. Fashionista. Editor. Founder of The Dress Collective. Runway Curator. Lover of Australian fashion. Gem.
If you would like to attend the The Fashion Advocate Runway on March 11 get in quick because tix are selling fast!
Here is her story.
Until next time,
Fast fashion has no meaning, no purpose, and no value …
Claire Goldsworthy, The Fashion Advocate.
What is the work of The Fashion Advocate?
The Fashion Advocate is a print and digital magazine dedicated to Australian made fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands, with a focus on ethical and sustainable content.
What has been the major inspiration for your work?
I wanted to see change. It drives me mad to see the plethora of fast fashion in shopping centres selling for five dollars a piece. How on earth can a garment be made, transported and retailed for five dollars?
It can’t – unless it’s been created under unsustainable and unethical standards. I was sick of seeing fast fashion crap. Sick of the facts and figures that get released every year about the negative environmental impacts of the fashion industry, and sick and tired of seeing the same style top in ten different stores.
Fast fashion has no meaning, no purpose, no value.
The inspiration for The Fashion Advocate was my desire for change; I wanted to promote fashion that matters. I wanted to inspire other people to start thinking about the impact of their shopping habits. I launched The Fashion Advocate to support Australian brands who have morals, values and ethics. To introduce consumers to a range of options that they might not otherwise have known about.
You are a fashion designer yourself. How does that assist you in understanding the difficulties other designers face?
I launched my own fashion label straight out of high school and worked everything out the hard way from the bottom up. I have a first-hand understanding of the blood, sweat and tears that go into a locally made fashion label because I’ve been there and done that. I’ve since put that label to rest as my aesthetic has changed, but having the first hand experience exposed me to the ups and downs of fashion.
I understand what brands go through. It helps me connect with designers and it’s not a foreign topic; fashion is simultaneously heart-breakingly hard. It conjures up so many different emotions. My experience helps me write about fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands in a personal way because I get it.
How much has your own label, Harriette Hill, influenced your own work?
Although I don’t run the brand anymore, it all started with Harriette Hill… My love of vintage fabrics, traditional sewing techniques and my ethical values all stem from my first brand. When I inherited my great grandmother’s 1950’s and 1960’s fabric collection, I was forced to find ways to make it last and so my journey into sustainability began.
How important do you believe is the unveiling of collections on the runway?
Runways are crucial to the development of fashion.
They illustrate a moment in time, a shift in trends, a certain look.
They reflect the current culture and represent who we are. It’s not just a string of clothes on a catwalk – it’s a story.
Runways are stories, and they’re special.
Yes. Yes. Yes!
How was The Dress Collective birthed?
Much the same as The Fashion Advocate – I wanted to see change. I had always been interested in fashion and over the years, I worked nationally and internationally in retail, brand management, PR and marketing, runway management, creative direction for various brands large and small, and always in fashion.
I was never truly content with working for other brands as their values and ethics didn’t quite align with mine. I launched The Dress Collective in 2015 to make a positive change for the fashion industry. I just couldn’t sit back and watch the damage anymore.
Please describe the role of The Dress Collective?
The Dress Collective is an online store that sells only 100 per cent Australian made fashion. It’s also 100 per cent transparent and each designers story is attached to every single item we sell, along with the garment’s design and manufacturing origins. The Dress Collective is more than just an online shop for Australian designers though; it’s a support network and creative foundation, built on a vision of positive and sustainable growth for the future of the Australian fashion industry. It doesn’t focus solely on ‘trends’ or seasonal collections, because that can sometimes create the ideal of ‘past season’ or ‘out of fashion’. Instead, The Dress Collective helps consumers make long term decisions about their wardrobe by introducing them to high quality, trans-seasonal and unique labels.
How difficult is it for Australian labels to produce their collections in Australia?
Contrary to popular belief, quite easy.
The cost is sometimes higher, but we do have a host of high quality manufacturers in Australia. The question though is about values and profit.
Is it difficult to manufacture in Australia? No.
Is it difficult to compete with fast fashion when you manufacture in Australia? Yes.
Local manufacturing can be costly, which drives up the cost of the final garment, but the value is in the ethical benefits of local manufacturing, so it depends on what you value and which part of the production cycle you consider to be more important.
What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing Australian designers in our current market?
Fast fashion. The dirty F-word!
People are hungry for unique clothing; the challenge isn’t demand as there’s plenty of that.
It’s the cheap fast fashion that causes a problem, and it starts to desensitise people to the bigger problem. You don’t think much about a twenty dollar top because you’d pay the same for pizza, therefore you’re more likely to throw it away, not care for it, and replace it with another twenty dollar top.
It’s a vicious cycle and it’s a hard one to break. The constant struggle is educating people about the importance of supporting local brands and the play-off between fast and slow fashion is an enormous challenge.
What is your opinion of fast fashion? What do you believe is its future?
Fast fashion has ruined our industry, globally.
It’s raping and pillaging the earth, killing garment workers and devaluing something that deserves so much more credit and thought. I do believe that people are slowly waking up to the impact of fast fashion and slowly making better choices, but it’s going to take a long time to see a total shift.
I won’t stop fighting for slow fashion though, no matter long it takes.
What do you most love about Australian fashion?
The diversity of it. I know labels that make entire garments out of pompoms, and some that make entire garments out of repurposed jeans. There are so many unique and diverse labels locally. I love it! Australian designers tend to be very self-driven and not focus on global trends too much because of the differences in season and locality compared with the rest of the world.
What are your favourite Australian labels?
All of the labels I stock online at The Dress Collective!
I hand pick them and they’re all so unique, yet very wearable and practical. Black Mob is incredible – it’s unisex and very vocal about the issues it stands for, I love it. DEVOI is another of my favourites; I absolutely love bright colour and prints, and this label delivers both.
Please share your views on the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion production?
It’s not even a question for me – you either engage ethical and sustainable practices, or you shouldn’t be running a business. If you are going to offer a product to the world, it is your responsibility to do so in an ethical manner; the harm of people or the environment shouldn’t be something that is gambled in the process. It is so very simple to ensure ethical and sustainable production and something you choose. Every step of the process is a choice for brands. We live in an incredible country and we are so very fortunate; we take it for granted. No-one in Australia would accept the garment factory working conditions or pay that are ‘the norm’ in third world countries. No-one would show up to work in Australia for those conditions. If you wouldn’t accept it for yourself, you shouldn’t accept it for any other person involved in the cycle of your business.
How does VAMFF differ to the other events across the Australian fashion calendar?
I love VAMFF!
It is such an inclusive, diverse festival that appeals to so many different people from all walks of life. The main fashion week is of course very targeted to your fashion-nuts, but the wider calendar includes beauty events, styling workshops, business seminars, shopping activations, film, photography … there’s something for everyone and I’m all about inclusion and diversity.
I believe you are curating your own show this year at VAMFF – The Fashion Advocate Runway. Please tell us more …
I am SO excited to be curating this event! I’ve handpicked twelve labels from around the country to showcase the diversity and talent of the Australian fashion industry, and all labels are entirely Australian made.
There tends to be a stigma around Australian made fashion and I’m working endlessly to ensure that the wider public understands the industry. People don’t realise that everything you need in your wardrobe – whether it be corporate attire, lingerie, formal wear, swimwear, sleepwear, whatever – can be bought from designers who manufacture locally. The details have been meticulously planned, from the local cocktails on offer to the gifts in the VIP bags – it’s all about Australian made. I’ve partnered with Luna Park too; I’m honoured to be hosting an event at such an iconic and historic venue, it all ties in with the message of valuing local, our roots and delving deeper into everything we buy, wear and engage with.
It’s going to be a very special event!
And indeed it will be! The designers are …
If you could speak openly, what would you say to Australian consumers?
Buy less, choose well, shop local. Start thinking about the impact of your choices and start creating the kind of world that you want for future generations; the world’s resources are not infinite. Support your local designers and design your own image around the message you want to promote; use fashion as a method of positive impact and change.
How can we best support emerging designers in Australia?
By shopping online at The Dress Collective!
Love a shameless plug!
Come on peeps … Shop. Shop. Shop!
The Fashion Advocate Runway Designer Line-Up
Follow them on Instagram and show your support!
Habadakas Instagram, Tatyana Design Instagram, Vincent Li Instagram, Diida Instagram, p’junk by Kate Hannah, Oreceo Castro, Lorenza The Label, Rayan Ardati, Cameron & James, Mhoo Mhoo, ‘Blushed’ by Teagan Jacobs, and Fool.
Annabelle and Eve, Awaken The Haus, Azulant Akora, Black Mob The Label, Cameron & James, Devoi, Don’t Do Pretty, Espire Clothing, Harriette Hill, Jude, Letitia Green, Marcela’s Accessories, Mici Jay, Oroceo Castro, Rbcca Kstr, Sets of Seven, Tatyana Design, The Spotted Quoll Studio, Vincent Li, Vous, Why Mary
“Buy less, choose well, shop local. Start thinking about the impact of your choices and start creating the kind of world that you want for future generations; the world’s resources are not infinite. Support your local designers and design your own image around the message you want to promote; use fashion as a method of positive impact and change”.
Claire Goldsworthy, The Fashion Advocate.
See you at VAMFF 2017! …
Until next time,