RE-THINK YOUR WARDROBE

NEW-AGE SUN­SHINE COAST DE­SIGN­ERS VALUE QUAL­ITY OVER QUAN­TITY AND THEIR DE­SIGNS ARE SET TO STAY ON TREND AND LAST

Life & Style Weekend - - COVER STORY - WORDS: AN­NIE CAUGHEY @rosereg­gie4eva @_lollyand­frank_.

Have you ever stopped to think about the dam­age that su­per-cute $5 top may be caus­ing? Why is it so cheap? Who is mak­ing it? Can com­pa­nies selling these items re­ally be mak­ing a profit? Over the past few years, the “fast-fash­ion” in­dus­try has re­ceived sig­nif­i­cant back­lash from hu­man­i­tar­ian or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the United Na­tions, Fair Trade and 1 Mil­lion Women for its un­eth­i­cal prac­tices re­lat­ing to gar­ment pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion. The Ellen Macarthur Foun­da­tion says in­ter­na­tional work­ers in sweat­shop fac­to­ries are get­ting paid as lit­tle as $2 a day to cre­ate the 80 mil­lion pieces of cloth­ing the world con­sumes ev­ery year. Many of these fab­rics are cre­ated from cheap, durable polyester (plas­tic) fab­rics that are later dumped in land­fill or left to poi­son the oceans. The in­dus­try is the num­ber-two big­gest pol­luter in the world (sec­ond only to the oil in­dus­try). But cloth­ing and fash­ion have de­fined pop­u­lar cul­ture through­out his­tory and their in­flu­ences don’t seem to be go­ing any­where quickly. How­ever, the key to slow­ing down this toxic chain may be in the hands of some tal­ented lo­cal cre­atives. The next gen­er­a­tion of young, up-and-com­ing Sun­shine Coast de­sign­ers is de­ter­mined to slash this dire trend and trans­form the way fash­ion is cre­ated. Last night, Rose Burke and Re­nee Lucas of­fi­cially de­buted their unique col­lec­tions on the fash­ion cat­walk as part of the fi­nal project for their Ad­vanced Di­plo­mas in Fash­ion De­sign and Mer­chan­dis­ing. Both de­sign­ers have cre­ated two very dif­fer­ent la­bels, sourced from sec­ond-hand ma­te­ri­als, and pro­duced on the Coast – prov­ing that sus­tain­able fash­ion doesn’t have to be bor­ing hand-me-downs. Rose is not afraid of a chal­lenge. At just 18, she took off on an ad­ven­ture trav­el­ling to the other side of the world. She landed a gig work­ing as a nanny for a fam­ily in Canada. When the fam­ily re-lo­cated south to Costa Rica, she em­braced her au­da­cious spirit and found her­self liv­ing in heart of Cen­tral Amer­ica. It was dur­ing this time that she dis­cov­ered a lot about her­self and what was soon to be­come her life-long pas­sion. “I was tie-dye­ing T-shirts to sell at a lo­cal mar­ket for ex­tra money,” Rose said. “I re­alised what I wanted to do and I was in­spired to come back to Aus­tralia and study fash­ion.” Rose signed up for a two-year course at TAFE Mooloolaba, un­able to sew, but ea­ger to learn. Orig­i­nally, her goal was to learn some ba­sic sewing skills, so she could sell var­i­ous items at lo­cal mar­kets. But the more she learnt, the higher she set her as­pi­ra­tions. Upon fin­ish­ing her ad­vanced diploma, the young woman now has goals to reach the big league in the tril­lion-dol­lar fash­ion in­dus­try. For the past two months, Rose has been work­ing 10-hour days, four days a week – with a month of de­sign work be­fore­hand – to pull to­gether the col­lec­tion she dis­played at last night’s clos­ing show­case. The emerg­ing de­signer pre­sented a col­lec­tion of 10 gar­ments, styling four com­plete out­fits that were au­then­ti­cally “her”. “It’s been three months of full-on work,” she said. “I stopped work­ing my paid job and put that on hold to com­plete this course, just so I could get the most out of it.” The style of her col­lec­tion on last night’s cat­walk was a mod­ern-day take on vin­tage with strong fem­i­nine un­der­tones. “I think my de­signs are prob­a­bly more over the top than my per­sonal style,” she said. “It’s kind of what I would wear ev­ery day if I could – if I was go­ing out some­where re­ally cool or to a fes­ti­val ... places that al­low you to go over the top.

“I HAVE LEARNT HOW MUCH WORK AND EF­FORT GOES INTO MAK­ING CLOTH­ING AND SO FOR SOME­THING TO BE SOLD FOR $2 OR $3, SOME­BODY ALONG THE LINE IS PAY­ING THE PRICE FOR T H AT.” — ROSE BURKE

“I want peo­ple to feel pow­er­ful in my clothes.” But if Rose learnt one thing from her two in­tense years of study and ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in the fash­ion in­dus­try, it’s that fash­ion is any­thing but “fast”. “I have learnt how much work and ef­fort goes into mak­ing cloth­ing and so for some­thing to be sold for $2 or $3, some­body along the line is pay­ing the price for that,” Rose said. “It’s pretty much im­pos­si­ble for a com­pany to be mak­ing a profit like that. I think there is such a dis­con­nect be­tween peo­ple and their cloth­ing and the peo­ple be­hind the scenes mak­ing it. “I am a sus­tain­able per­son, my­self, and I think my cloth­ing is a re­flec­tion of that. “My val­ues and mo­rals are very im­por­tant to me. All of my ma­te­ri­als are sourced from sec­ond-hand shops. I will al­ways make sure my la­bel is pro­duced in Aus­tralia, not over­seas, and I’m try­ing to start con­ver­sa­tions with the wearer about sus­tain­abil­ity: that sus­tain­able cloth­ing doesn’t have to be un­fash­ion­able or un-trendy.” Class­mate and fel­low de­signer Re­nee is also de­ter­mined to cut a bet­ter fu­ture for the in­dus­try in which she wishes to pur­sue a ca­reer. “Fast fash­ion is a hor­ren­dous in­dus­try, so I am try­ing to stray away from that and have gar­ments that last and aren’t just thrown out with trends,” she said. Re­nee was drawn to a ca­reer in the fash­ion in­dus­try through her artistry. She en­joys how she can com­bine her love for craft and fash­ion to cre­ate wear­able pieces of art. This was ev­i­dent in Re­nee’s sus­tain­able la­bel, show­cased last night, with an eye-catch­ing col­lec­tion of hand-painted linens, em­bel­lished neck­lines and in­tri­cate bead­ing de­tails. “Lolly and Frank (her la­bel) fo­cuses on sus­tain­able evening wear,” she said. “I col­lect my fab­rics from sec­ond-hand stores and try to cre­ate them into beau­ti­ful gar­ments. Sus­tain­abil­ity doesn’t al­ways have to be sim­ple.” The young de­signer be­lieves sus­tain­able fash­ion is the way of the fu­ture, and cre­at­ing a busi­ness model built on a foun­da­tion of ethics doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean she will have to sac­ri­fice a thriv­ing busi­ness. “The way the world is go­ing, ev­ery­one is be­com­ing more aware of waste and the im­pact it is hav­ing on the en­vi­ron­ment,” Re­nee said. “We get shown lots of doc­u­men­taries about how fast fash­ion works, how peo­ple are treated, and it’s just an aw­ful in­dus­try.” Re­nee wants to see la­bels such as her Lolly and Frank take over from the mass mar­ket. She wants peo­ple to be able to eas­ily find the brands that look after its work­ers as well as the en­vi­ron­ment. And she wants con­sumers to ac­cept the re­al­ity that an eth­i­cal pro­duc­tion chain means clothes are go­ing to cost more – but in turn last longer. “Ba­si­cally, it’s about not buy­ing fast fash­ion,” she said. “There is a lot of up-and-com­ing lo­cal de­sign­ers that re­ally fo­cus on hand-made, good-qual­ity stuff. I think the Sun­shine Coast is head­ing to­wards that now.” Through study­ing at TAFE Mooloolaba, Re­nee said she had learnt ev­ery­thing to build her brand from pro­duc­tion, cost­ings and mar­ket­ing to com­pli­cated de­sign tech­niques, and after gain­ing some in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing for bou­tiques, she, like Rose, planned to make sus­tain­able fash­ion the next big thing. To check out Rose’s la­bel Rose + Reg­gie, fol­low on In­sta­gram. Or browse Re­nee’s la­bel Lolly and Frank

PHOTO: WARREN LY­NAM PHOTO: WARREN LY­NAM

Main and Top: Rose Burke with a gar­ment from her 10piece col­lec­tion. Bot­tom: Re­nee Lucas adds some fin­ish­ing touches to one of her sus­tain­able de­signs.

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