Image by Patrick McCarthy
The term ‘sustainability’ is thrown around a lot these days… How do you interpret the term and how does it influence your designs?
(Sustainable fashion is) fashion that is designed with a consideration for the environment. I consider the item’s lifespan and its footprint, and I create fashion that looks towards protecting the future.
I up-cycle. I try and extend everything in a garment’s lifespan - old zippers, old thread, shoulder pads, buttons... I now have a library of different elements that can be recycled to create new garments. I take and save each element, even if I am not using it in a current design. There is no such thing as waste for me. The tiniest scrap can save the day when designing the way I do. I work without limitations. I have even taken apart old designs of my own and re-used the fabric again.
How do you ensure your garments are of the highest quality? Take us through your design process.
I source my materials from anywhere - markets, garage sales, op shops, auctions, donations from friends, family and public. I then carefully unpick the garments and reuse the fabric, draping directly onto a mannequin. I don’t think people are attracted to my work solely for the ‘eco’ element; I believe my design aesthetic holds its own ground. I love good design and high fashion and I don’t sacrifice these things for an eco result. The fact that it is sustainable is a bonus. The two combined (good design and sustainability) ensure a desirable product.
What are your thoughts on the local Australian fashion industry; do you think sustainable design is encouraged and/or supported?
I do find it hard here in Australia for the type of fashion I create. I am all about slow fashion - each item is hand made, valuing technique and quality over quantity. Instead of them being disposable and short-lived, I want my garments to tell a story and to be passed on. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for a small label like mine to thrive here, as it goes against everything our traditional fashion industry is about. To be honest, most of the attention I receive is from overseas. The fashion industry here seems to get to a point where it is comfortable with a handful of designers and those designers seem to dominate the marketplace for decades.
Various celebrities have worn your clothing – including Rihanna, Kristen Stewart and Christina Ricci – how did these opportunities arise?
A Los Angeles based PR firm contacted me after I had a stall at the Esthetica exhibition during London Fashion Week - they were passionate about my range and my vision and wanted to represent me!
Which other fashion designers and labels (that have a focus on sustainability) do you admire/reference?
Margiela is someone I have always admired. However my aesthetic is very different to his, so I don’t really reference (his work). I also love the versatility and timelessness of Yamamoto and Rey Kawakubo. They have created designs that sustain time; they can be transformed and worn many different ways. They also encourage the wearer to look closer at the way things are made and the way we can wear and interact with our clothes. This to me is a brilliant display of sustainability.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on a collection that has been inspired by my ancestors’/grandparents’ history. They lived in Egypt at a time which has been described to me as magical. My grandmother gave me an item of clothing that was apparently my great aunt’s mother’s, and was given to her by a princess when she worked in a palace. My collection has been inspired by this particular piece, along with the fantastical images I have made up in my head based on their stories since I was a child.