What drew you to become a fashion designer?
I think just general fascination. My youth saw me transfixed with how people chose to present themselves. Creating & altering clothes allowed not only a personal expression but created a challenge in an artistic medium - how to make something aesthetically pleasing yet functional.
The cherry on the cake would have been spending the summer before starting my design course in the beautiful boutiques of Berlin. I was transfixed.
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?
“There are three things we touch upon everyday that greatly impact the world around us: fuel (energy), food & fashion”. This quote from Paul Hawken in the foreword to Kate Fletcher & Lynda Gross’ book “Fashion & Sustainability” positively enhanced my viewpoint on my passion for making. Fashion is not a trivial pastime but part of everybody’s everyday - regardless of how much time you spend in front of the mirror in the morning - & we are experiencing an exciting time where people are recognising that their purchases shape a global market. I wanted my creative streak to be a contribution to this realisation.
I hate waste in my work. I recycle, repurpose or redistribute al my fabrics. If it be for re-toiling, stuffing cushions, patchwork garments or donating to up-cycling designer friends.
I think about shapes a lot and enjoy making micro samples in paper or cloth to develop an idea prior to cutting patterns or toile's. Computers aren’t really my medium but I’ve been battling on illustrator recently which makes fun/sense of pattern drafting without the paper usage….
Where do your find inspiration for new work?
I am easily inspired by beautiful fabrics. Be it the base colour, the weave, texture or design. I’ve been enjoying bold prints more & more, especially if they have a back story. The artworks I am using in this new work are screen printed examples of Bininj art from Arnhem Land Aboriginal artists. They just screamed at me to make something out of them…. I’ve completely fallen in love with the imagery which has shown me a deeper, more personal insight on an approach to living out bush.
What materials do you work with – organic, reclaimed, etc.?
I’ve always loved natural fibres. Outside of organic purchases, I make conscious efforts to work with local production. Back home in Scotland there is a wonderful wool industry & each independent provider has their own approach to colour, weave & yarn. I was/am a little obsessed.
What are the biggest challenges you face as an sustainable designer?
How overwhelming the scale and practise of our industry is, and how much we need to change in order to create a more positive alternative.
How do you help customers understand the higher cost of sustainable garments when they are so inundated with sweat shop-produced cheap merchandise?
We all love bagging a bargain but there is a clear difference between "good value" and “cheap”. It doesn’t matter how much or little you spend if you are buying something that is designed to fail. When it comes down to quality - the results are obvious. The primary example or explanation I can give is to ensure what I contribute is of premium quality, created in a safe environment & constructed from choice materials.
As with all subjects, we need the passionate & informed to continue to share their knowledge.
What can we look forward to seeing on the runway at Eco Fashion Week Australia 2018?
Shades of the earth complimented by eye watering bursts of colour.
How do you incorporate sustainable living in other areas of your life?
I’ve recently updated my mantra to REFUSE. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. ROT. For years I have taken my own bags to the shop, turned the lights off, cycled most places (which is much easier to do in Scotland!) & re-purposed almost everything in my life. I now consciously walk away from unnecessary or over packaged purchases & rot my organics (including cotton scraps, which I wish I’d thought of years ago!).
Anything else you would like readers to know?
The past few months has seen me immersed in aboriginal community life of West Arnhem in the Northern Territory of Australia, working as a sewing teacher. This is the birthplace of the collection. The fabrics used feature beautiful, detailed work from local Bininj artists & were printed specially for this Eco Fashion Week showcase in custom colour combinations. It’s all been very exciting!
Creating in a completely new environment surrounded by people with such fresh eyes to the possibilities of sewing has been spectacular. The playful attitude of my students has really encouraged me to experiment with new shapes. I’m excited to say this is the first full collection I have created within the zero waste cutting ethos.