What drew you to become a fashion designer?
I've been fascinated with textiles and different cultural traditional clothing since I was a child and living abroad. I love how fashion design can take those elements, along with other inspiration like nature and architecture and turn them into a current reflection of the zeitgeist. What drew me to take that to a wider audience was a massive gap in styles available for all body types, and to combat the current standard of only producing limited sizes or disposable, fast-trend styles.
Why was it important to you to offer a sustainable, responsible, Eco fashion line and how do you incorporate ideals such a Zero Waste into your work?
The fact is that our planet is choking on our garbage and if we don't globally change the way we design and manufacture, we are adding to the problem. Using natural and recycled fabrics that are sourced in North America is just the start. Incorporating zero waste into production is essential; we have to start looking at our offcuts. What happens with the fabric that gets salvaged, the miles of thread that we snip off? For my production, everything that isn't a part of the finished piece still gets used. Whether it's turning it into an accessory or, in terms of the thread and scraps, they are all saved to use as filling for the floor cushions that clients have ordered.
- In my view, to do something excellent means to make it excellent in every regard:
- For the design--is it flattering for more than one body type and age? Is it innovative?
- For the materials--are they made in a way that is sustainable both ecologically and ethically?
- For the production--is it local? Is it made in studio?
If the answer to any of those questions is no, then for my brand, it's not excellent.
Where do your find inspiration for new work?
It's sounds silly but it truly is in everything: the shape of a cactus, silhouettes of boats on the horizon, your aunt's dusty shoe collection. I like pairing traditional sewing techniques and textural elements with clean lines and geometry. Another main contributor to my mental mood board is talking to women and asking them what they feel is missing in the fashion world...since they're the people who are going to be living in my collections!
What materials do you work with – organic, reclaimed, etc.?
I work with a variety of organic cottons, recycled textiles, faux leather and hand dyed fabrics. My metal fixtures are locally sourced.
What are the biggest challenges you face as an sustainable designer?
The biggest challenge I currently face is bringing on more retailers. Understandably it's a gamble for them to bring in a new designer, and having the funding to properly present lookbooks and marketing in an ecological way is a massive gamble for me. It takes an investment on both sides to see change in the way our customers shop.
What can we look forward to seeing on the runway at Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) 2018?
'Talisman' 18/19 is largely built around the aftermath of the sudden loss I experienced in the two weeks following the first EFWA. Two deaths and a separation set me back quite a bit, and working on this collection was an immense struggle. I took inspiration from the photographs I was able to see for the first time of my now late grandmother and the flair she had for being uncompromisingly practical while always looking effortless---likely because she made much of her own clothing. She worked as a teacher in Ontario, Ethiopia and Japan, and fostered my passion for connecting with other cultures.
Taking elements from those photographs and textiles and working with twists on classic tailoring, I'll be exploring a world of terracotta, grey and graphic floral prints (the grey and terracotta colours were.inspired by the Australian landscape). Also, this is the first season that we are bringing jeans to the runway...and all I will say is that they will not be skin tight. This collection is meant to take real women from home to work to cocktails and includes classic core pieces that everyone needs in their wardrobe and now can confidently, sustainably add them to their everyday closet. ....oh, and of course, my trademark pockets in every garment!
How do you incorporate sustainable living in other areas of your life?
I've been a vegetarian for 14 years, and am known to sort other people's recycling. This year as part of my healing process and as inspiration I began adding to the growing houseplant jungle in my home. In the last six months I've added 38 new species of plants and have been propagating them to create an atmosphere full of life and fresh oxygen. Joining community composting and botanical groups is a great way to interact with like minded people and has taught me so much about the importance of sharing seeds, trimmings and keeping our planet as green as possible. Even if we are turning our cities into condo universes, it's encouraging to see the people dwelling in them committed to growing plants and produce and building more sustainable communities within urban settings. Apart from that, I choose not to drive, and cycle or use public transit, shop at my independent organic grocer's and farmer's markets and use recycled paper products in the home and for design purposes. Plastic is such a toxic plague on our oceans and so there is a strict "no straws, no plastic bags, no exceptions" rule in my house and I apply that in public when opportunities arise.
Anything else you would like readers to know?
I'm so excited and thankful to have the opportunity to show my work in Australia for the second time and for all the individuals who have gone out of their way to make it possible. As my way to pay it forward, I am committed to contributing 10% of profits to community charities and wildlife conservation. 2019's proceeds will be going to the Canadian Mental Health Association