What drew you to become a fashion designer?
I approach my work as a multidisciplinary artist having trained in Visual Arts alongside Contemporary Fashion and Textiles. Studying at Edith Cowan University allowed me to develop a practice that values intensive research, experimental mark making and the value of reflection.
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?
My entire process is based upon a longer term commitment to living with purpose and intentionality. This can lead to an internal battle when faced with an idea of developing a fashion brand, so rather than focusing on products to sell which ultimately still results in more unnecessary stuff, my focus is on fostering deeper connections. I believe that if we have a meaningful connection with the people who make our clothes, then we in turn hold a deeper connection to the cloth itself and are more likely to look for ways to care for our clothing and this way we will lighten our load on our planet.
Where do your find inspiration for new work?
My work is deeply narrative and so my starting point for a new collection always begins with a story that I want to further investigate. I use autobiographical experiences alongside shared stories that connect us. The visual representation of this research develops through constant mark making experimentation and an openness to the process of making. I take endless amounts of photographs along the way and surround myself with this visual imagery in my studio and my home.
What materials do you work with – organic, reclaimed, etc.?
I use only the materials that I would want to wear against my own skin. Natural fibres such as cotton, bamboo and silk feature in my work along with pre and post-production fabric sourced from Remida. I also feature re-appreciated found garments within my pieces along with embroidery samples, found lace fragments and the little gems of cloth discovered on our travels.
How do you help customers understand the higher cost of sustainable garments when they are so inundated with sweatshop produced cheap merchandise?
The pieces I produce are unique garments that hold an inherently deep meaning for individual clients and therefore their value is already recognised and respected. People who buy a piece of Melaleuca Rise clothing are already emotionally engaged with the work, seeking a connection to the cloth and the narrative of each piece rather than buying a piece of clothing that can be seasonably replaced. All my work comes with a ‘mend to extend’ gift that helps clients to find ways to deepen their connection to their garment. I facilitate workshops to empower people with the skills to mend, tend and repair their own clothes. I believe that once we understand the amount of work that goes into creating clothing we in turn can begin to understand the unfairness and inequality that lies within fast fashion.
What can we look forward to seeing on the runway at Eco Fashion Week Australia 2018?
The 2018 Fragmented Memories collection brings together looks that were developed during my independent study where my focussed research was based upon a deepening knowledge of ethical and sustainable fashion and how this sits within my contemporary arts practice.
The narrative throughout this collection began with my interest in the formation and retention of memory. What we remember throughout our lives and what others remember when they think of us: the significant events, the fleeting moments, the sadness, the conversations. There can often be a disconnect between what we would want people to remember about us and our inability to control which moments hold significance to others. After initiating a dialogue between myself and a select group of people I began to collect memories which formed the screen printed text within my work.
Gathered vintage photographs of family members were digitally manipulated to create more images for the fabric prints. An image of a mycelium underground structure was used to create an association with nature’s connected pathways. This visual offers an opportunity for the viewer to reflect upon human communication and the ways in which we may strengthen our understanding of individuals within a connected whole.
How do you incorporate sustainable living in other areas of your life?
My family and I have an approach to sustainable living that grows as our knowledge grows. We have an openness and curiosity about why we do what we do and look for better alternatives along the way. We recently learned how to make our own beeswax wraps at the Social Impact Festival here in Perth and our current challenge is to reduce our household food waste to zero.
Anything else you would like readers to know?
In November of this year we will be launching a three-year art as activism, gentle protest project to celebrate the positive changes that mainstream fashion brands are making and to support other makers and brands in finding ways to become part of the solution. I will be looking for 1134 individuals to take part and anyone who would like to get involved in this project can contact me at MelaleucaRise@gmail.com.