the australian fashion graduates to watch out for
We reached out to the newest crop of designers and found that the future of fashion, and our environment, is in good hands.
Photography by Jesse Lizotte
Right now around the country, hundreds of fashion students are in the midst of packing down and folding away a year's worth of work as they contemplate their next step and look forward to the realities of their industry. For the past three or four years, these students have delved deep into the meaning and significance of their practice, the environmental cost of fashion and the impact they hope to have on the world. With this in mind, we chose a handful of students whose work stood out to us and whose design approach engaged us. We shot pieces from their grad collections and asked these ones to watch to tell us a little more about themselves.
How would you describe your work? I use sustainable design to look at how wearing clothing can be a tool for emotional attachment. What’s at the core of your design strategy? It starts with the people who will wear my clothes, as they hold the keys to a more sustainable future. My intention is to help people be more aware of their relationship with clothes, which means that functionality is critical as it promotes wear. For my honours project, this resulted in a multi-layered fabric (donated by Australian Defence Apparel from their deadstock supplies) that can be cut or stripped away over time. How do you plan to make a difference? By being a promoter of the designer-maker-wearer relationship, an everyday clothes advocate and a creator of wear-centric clothing.
How would you describe your work? My design is deeply based in textile exploration, the work often prompted by sociological issues that I want to explore with a general focus on personal and socially constructed relationships with the body. What’s at the core of your design strategy? At the core of my latest project was a desire to find and embrace fabrics that had been abandoned or deemed otherwise 'faulty'. How do you plan to make a difference? The fashion and textile industries continue to create such an obscene amount of waste, and I think it's really important for graduates and existing members of the industry to continue to consider creative solutions to the problem we’ve created.
How would you describe your work? Extremely excessive and socially critical via multidisciplinary activism and chucklesome engagement. What's at the core of your design strategy? By pushing the wearability and usability of fabrication in unexpected ways, I aim to critique the way fabrics are produced using unsustainable, unethical and inhumane processes. I critique the significance of materiality in terms of sustainable or unsustainable fashion practices. How do you plan to make a difference? Through education and a multidisciplinary approach, I’d love people to experience fashion, consumption and sustainability through a different lens. We all love to laugh so the absurdity of our impact is what I play with through the process and production of my practice.
How would you describe your work? My practice is an observation of clothing; an investigation and expression of the nuances of the every day collected through garments. What’s at the core of your design strategy? My work has the intention of drawing attention to the ordinary or unassuming. For me, interest lies in referencing what already exists. How do you plan to make a difference? There’s no wheel to invent, everything’s been done in one way or another. Rather than trying to outdo what's come before, I'm more interested in paying attention to what goes unnoticed in our relationships with clothes.
How would you describe your work?
My work presents collections of characters whose dress is at once familiar and foreign. Most commonly these narratives find basis within themes of work, survival, folk culture, authenticity and humanism. What's at the core of your design strategy? I try to embed a signature or sense of my hand or design in every aspect of the garment, so while I may appropriate historical fabrics or archetypes, they become new objects that are unmistakably mine. How do you plan to make a difference? I see my work as championing the everyman and promoting ideas associated with common culture. Fashion is easily perceived as elitist—economically, culturally and intellectually—and I think finding avenues to subvert the industry’s own preconceptions allows it to be more accessible, inclusive and innovative.
How would you describe your work? It's informed by slow fashion and a desire to preserve traditional skills, including hand embellishments and traditional tailoring. I want my garments to have longevity and to illustrate that human labour is central to fashion. What's at the core of your design strategy? My designs incorporate mostly natural fabrics as they tend to have better properties, feel more pleasant to wear and have the added benefit of being biodegradable. I then think about what details I can add to the garments: maybe subtle fabric manipulation like weaving strips of fabric or adding a type of embellishment. How do you plan to make a difference? It is important, in a country where it’s diminishing, that my work supports the Australian fashion industry and local suppliers.
Imogen Jane Whitton
How would you describe your work? I am influenced by the natural beauty of different textures and by the imperfect perfect. I like to leave things alone if anything to try to enhance their natural state, which aligns with my views on ethics and sustainability. What’s at the core of your design strategy? I like to work slightly left of centre on trends because I want to encourage consumers to leave the trend cycle. I believe in designing clothes that are timeless and of high quality so they’re functional, comfortable and cool but ultimately provide longevity and by definition sustainability. How do you plan to make a difference? All of my materials are beautifully Australian made, Woolmark-approved fabrics or produced by local hand knitters. In this way we promote local industry and our country, but also provide work on our own soil.
How would you describe your work? Playful streetwear merged with grandma chic. I like to play with different textures, colours and patterns to get a perfect mix of imperfection. What's at the core of your design strategy? I want my wearers to feel joy and connect with their childlike self. I also focus on creating garments that use sustainable fibres with an emphasis on wools, as I love the texture and the different ways it can be manipulated. How do you plan to make a difference? I hope to help spread the importance of self-love, positivity, and sustainability through my garments and social media platforms, ensuring my clothes are available to anyone who chooses to wear them. I also hope to work with ethical and sustainable organisations to help support the movement of abolishing harsh labour and unethical working conditions and would love to explore the use of sustainable fibre technology and eco-friendly dyes.
How would you describe your work? A love letter to Hong Kong. What’s at the core of your design strategy? It's looking back into heritage, history and vernacular identity, and bringing it into the zeitgeist. For example, I researched traditional Chinese flat patternmaking, which enables me to design from a point of respect. How do you plan to make a difference? I want to give a voice to Asian designers in an industry built on a Western framework. I want to question how, as a Hong Kong-Chinese designer, I can bring in an alternative perspective into the fashion industry.
How would you describe your work? Nostalgic, emotional, socially and culturally embedded, destabilised tailoring. What’s at the core of your design strategy? I want to design clothing that is genuine and emotive, that has cultural depth and consideration by delving into notions of nostalgia through lived experiences of the Australian-born Chinese identity. How do you plan to make a difference? I hope I am able to stimulate contemplation on wider social and cultural issues whilst simultaneously relieving toxicity from the fashion industry by sharing a slower, more transparent design process.
How would you describe your work? I channel sensuality, looking at archetypal garments and how queer and trans people of colour approach power dressing, politics of respectability and visibility, and survival. What’s at the core of your design strategy? The intention is to generate more technical and textural properties of cotton through new and old methodologies. Sourcing alternatives to synthetic defaults has been a way of seeking biodegradability, investing in organic agricultural and finishing processes, and acknowledging native knowledge. How do you plan to make a difference with your work? To help realise that disposability intrinsically affects us. Comfort is not only aesthetic fit but the fit of our values.
Photography Jesse Lizotte @ B&A
Stylist Charlotte Agnew
Hair Daren Borthwick @ The Artist Group
Make-up Molly Warkentin @ Company 1
Talent Vasha, Marlo @ Chadwick, Kristen, Maya @ Kult, Ines @ IMG. Leila, Leif, Brandon, Danny.
Photography assistant Nick Shaw
Fashion assistants Victoria Wills and Phoebe Cutler
All clothing by the featured graduates
Jewellery Andrew Mcdonald Shoemaker and Courtesy of the Artist