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