Fashion Forward: Balenciaga, MFW and Spring Planting

This month, the Houndstooth Wrap is fashion forward! We hear from Lecturer of Fashion Enterprise Saniyat Islam, who led a field-trip of Master of Fashion (Entrepreneurship) students, staff and alumni to Bendigo to visit the Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion exhibition; look at the work of Bachelor of (Design)(Honours) students who showed their graduate collections as part of the Melbourne Fashion Week (MFW) Student Runway; celebrate the success of Ryley Wilson, who was named one of the three winners of the inaugural Specsavers Young Innovators Design Competition; and congratulate four third-year Bachelor of (Design)(Honours) students who had their work featured as part of a VAEFNO event during MFW.

Finally, we share the activities of the Spring Planting Workshop in the RMIT Garden Studio, including the release of the ladybirds!

Balenciaga Exhibition, Bendigo Art Gallery 

Tuesday 27 August

On 17th August, the Bendigo Art Gallery opened its new fashion exhibition: Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. Lecturers of Fashion Entrepreneurship Kate Kennedy and Saniyat Islam led a group of students, staff and alumni on a field-trip visit to Bendigo to attend the exhibition on 27 August. Saniyat tells us about the day:

“As a part of belonging to place and culture as well to the discipline and the profession, we led a day out for the Master of Fashion (Entrepreneurship) cohort to explore the Balenciaga exhibition and discover Bendigo. 

The exhibition showed the extraordinary work of Balenciaga. A must see for all interested fashion followers and practitioners. Known and lesser known designs were on display, including both historical and contemporary pieces. 


Visiting the “Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion” exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery

One of the fascinating aspects of the exhibition was the special X-ray photos showing the “hidden secrets” of some of the designs and the recent material under creative director Demna Gvasalia, where the brand has taken a much more ‘street’ approach to fashion, and now has a cult following for its bags and shoes, especially the sneakers.”

(Note from Robyn: Alumni Hugh Westland is currently the Senior Designer of menswear at Balenciaga. Go Hugh!)


Master of Fashion (Entrepreneurship) visit to “Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion” exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery

Melbourne Fashion Week Student Runway

Sunday 1 September

The annual MFW Student showcase was held on Sunday 1 September at the Melbourne Town Hall. The work of twenty current RMIT Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) students were included, alongside the work of young designers from Holmesglen Institute, Box Hill Institute, Whitehouse Institute of Design, The Masters Institute for Creative Education, and Kangan Institute. The collection this year also included the work of three students from Ueda College of Fashion from Melbourne’s sister city, Osaka. Among the six finalists in the Student Design Competition were two RMIT students: Emily Watson (‘Active Relaxation’ collection) and Jordyn Smith (‘Fashion’s Prometheus’ collection). Congratulations to you both!

RMIT’s runway is always surprising, never the same each year. Our students displayed a diversity of aesthetic styles and collections, ranging from the street to the prairie to the pool-side and back to the street again. Jinwei Zhang‘s cowboy collection played with proportion and exaggeration; Emma Frankcom‘s ‘Unreal Content’ collection explored the ideas of celebrity and reality in the digital age through the construction of garments based on paparazzi photographs; Georgia Zulian‘s ‘What They Wore’ collection was influenced by the negative impacts of textile waste and the potential for critical thinking within the design process; Paris Moschis‘s chic ‘Case Study’ collection was informed by his own evolutionary relationship to fashion, dressing, and how he defines men’s clothing. This is just a little taster of the collections. Well done to you all!

Photos by Lucas Dawson.

Specsavers Young Innovator Design Competition 

As part of their sponsorship of the MFW Student Showcase, Specsavers also ran their inaugural Young Innovator Design Competition. Five finalists were selected from entries by designers from across Australia and New Zealand. On the night of the student showcase, Head of Design and Product Development for Specsavers Stig Hansen announced the three winners whose designs will be put into production for sale across Specsavers stores in 2020. Congratulations to our own RMIT Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) student Ryley Wilson who was one of the three winners. Congratulations Ryley!

BeeKeeper Parade Collaboration

As part of the 2019 Vogue American Express Fashion Night Out (VAEFNO), Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) students from RMIT were invited to create a unique print in response to the ‘New York City street party’ theme. Five third-year students, Yong Bin Zhang, Jia Jia Cai, Zhouyi Liang, Nicole Esquires and Jasmine Failla had their prints transformed into skyscraper-esque towers, which were on display at Melbourne Central during the MFW VAEFNO event. Shoppers had the chance to vote for their favourite print and the first 200 voters will receive one of the limited edition BeeKeeper bum bags made using the four graphic prints. Well done Yong Bin, Jia Jia, Zhouyi and Nicole!

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Third-year Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) students, L-R: Yong Bin Zhang, Jia Jia Cai, Zhouyi Liang and Nicole Esquires

‘Garden Studio’ Growings and Spring Planting Workshop

September to October is Poorneet, Tadpole Season. It is true Spring. Temperatures are rising, though the rains continue. Melting snow fills the billabongs. There are flowers on the burgan, Goodenia, Kangaroo apple, yam daisies, and flax lily. Young kangaroos are out of pouch and the pied currawongs are calling. 

In the Garden Studio, the dahlia is still in flower, there is new growth on the blueberries, indigo and roses, and fresh leaves are unfurling on the eucalyptus. Making the most of the spring weather and the promise of warmer days ahead, the RMIT Garden Committee hosted a Spring Planting Workshop on Tuesday 10 September. This was an opportunity to harvest the beetroot and rainbow chard to make space in the VegePods for the planting of Woad, Weld and Red Clover seeds as well as African Marigolds and Madder.


Hydration supplies for the Spring Planting Workshop in the RMIT Garden Studio

Fresh compost from the garden composter was used on the garden beds, which was the first time that RMIT-made compost was used on campus — a true demonstration of waste being transformed into resource. Robyn is very keen for us to enter a big beetroot into next year’s Royal Melbourne Show!

Perhaps the most exciting part of the event was the release of forty ladybirds into the Blood Sorrel VegePod. A number of plants in the garden have been plagued by pesky aphids, ants, caterpillars and moths so the ladybirds have been introduced into the garden as organic pest controllers, helping us to keep the garden healthy and pest-free in the coming spring and summer months.

Did You Know? – Australia hosts more than 500 ladybird species, most of which are predators of aphids and scales — insect pests that feed on plant sap and cause serious damage to gardens and crops. In 1888, the Australian native vedalia ladybird became the world’s first biocontrol agent (aka – Aussie 007!) when it was exported to California to rid citrus orchards of cottony-cushion scale. The mealybug ladybird followed in 1891 and successfully controlled California’s citrus mealy bug. Today ladybirds such as the transverse, maculate and minute two-spotted species control aphid populations, and thus increase yields in the Australian cotton industry, one of our highest rural export earners. Ladybirds are rarely preyed upon: they taste terrible. They further repel predators by emitting a noxious liquid from their leg joints when threatened. – Australian Geographic, 2017

Welcome to our new tiny friends!

 – Compiled by Dr Harriette Richards, Research Assistant for the School of Fashion and Textiles

Best wrapping ever, with Awards, Careers and Open Day

Beginning this layer of the wrap with *CONGRATULATIONS* to two of our alumni who were recognised in the annual Design Institute of Australia Graduate of the Year Awards.

The Fashion Careers Forum on the 1st August was a great chance for our students to hear from industry panellists about the many career paths open to fashion graduates. RMIT Open Day, on the 12th August was an opportunity to launch our new programs to a gathering of potential students (and curious parents!) – very exciting for us all to share our new thinking and delivery models to imagine the future direction of the fashion industry.

In the garden, the days are getting longer and the birds are getting louder. Roses in the dye garden are blooming and we are planning our next harvest and planting. So, be ready volunteers for digging and weeding, and the release of the ladybirds!

Design Institute of Australia Graduate of the Year Awards

The Design Institute of Australia (DIA) Graduate of the Year Awards (GOTYAs) is the flagship program for emerging Australian designers. Each year, educational institutions are invited to nominate their top graduates across various design disciplines. Nominee portfolios are anonymously evaluated on their design excellence based on a transparent judging process and criteria. Finalists are interviewed by a panel of judges to determine their transferable workplace skills and predicted impact on the Australian design industry.GOTYA 01We are very excited to announce that RMIT graduate Lauren Stringini has been named Australian Textile Design Graduate of the Year!

Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) graduate Helena Dong has also been awarded the Fashion Design Graduate of the Year Award in the state category for Victoria.The Houndstooth Wrap got in touch with Lauren to ask her about her project submission and how it feels to have won this award.

“As a designer, I am inspired to produce emotionally durable textile designs that help to fight product obsolescence within a throw-away society. The idea that a textile design may inspire someone to hold onto, pass on or re-purpose a product motivates me to continue creating. My approach to design is inspired by the ‘Slow Design Movement’ and the idea of producing quality over quantity. Each design is hand-rendered, with minimal digital editing and a huge amount of attention to detail applied throughout the entire process. My aim is to create textiles that feel like pieces of art, in the hope that they are then cared for and avoid a linear journey straight to landfill.

I am definitely inspired by the natural world when it comes to motif choice and colour development. Although my focus has been on floral’s during my final year (and will always be a huge part of my work), I am also looking forward to creating more conversational textiles that evoke feelings of joy or perhaps tell a story. I have always had such love and respect for the environment; something that inspired me to experiment with natural dyeing. The ‘Make Do’ collection I completed during third year, encapsulates my commitment to sustainable textiles. The designs were created to challenge the common ‘eco-aesthetic’ that is usually associated with sustainably made textiles. My illustrative style, natural dyes and screen-printing pigment made from powderized clothing items (developed by scientists at Deakin University), combined to create a range of commercially viable textiles that continue to inspire me to refine and develop this concept.

Winning this award means so much to me. I am so grateful to Dr Rebecca van Amber for nominating me. I moved away from my family and my home town of Townsville to study this course and the awards I have received are a wonderful acknowledgement of my efforts, as well as a reminder of what I am capable of. I am hoping that this award will bring with it some added credibility to my practice, as I am planning to approach sustainable companies and businesses for possible collaborations in the future. I am also excited to build a relationship with the DIA and experience their support of young designers during this next phase of my career.”

Congratulations to Lauren and Helena on this amazing achievement! We really look forward to seeing what you do next.

Fashion Summit Award

Monday, 22 July

In July, Dean of the School of Fashion and Textiles, Professor Robyn Healy received a  commemorative plaque from the Hon. Felix Chung, Legislative Member, 6th Legislative Council of HKSAR, and Chairman of the Fashion Summit (HK) Steering Committee.Robyn_HK awardCongratulations Robyn!

Fashion Careers Forum

Thursday, 1 August

On the 1st of August, the School of Fashion and Textiles hosted a Fashion Careers Forum in the Hanger at the Brunswick campus. The day included three panel sessions:


L-R: Kiri Delly; Olivia Smythe (Intent Journal); Megan Edwards (Cargo Crew); Natasha Demers (Ark Clothing Co.); Maria Rinaldi-Cant (Country Road)

We got in touch with Lucy (Shengyi) Zhu to hear about her experiences of the day.

“I went to all the sessions and it was so beneficial to meet all these industry leaders, gaining insights to their journey and being able to network with them. I learnt so many things! I think one of the most important things I learnt was to set boundaries with your mentor and to work with people who balance out your skills. 

The best advice I got from the day was to just go for it, the more ‘no’s you get, the quicker you will get a ‘yes’! It was such a great day and it was really helpful being able to network with fellow fashion students as well as the amazing industry professionals.”

Open Day 

Sunday, 11 August

Despite a forecast of rain the sun shone for most of Open Day on the Brunswick campus, perfect for the Little Market and for visitors to see all that our leafy campus has to offer. The market featured stalls from clothing brands such as No Normal Girls, and CANDID by Alyse as well as other initiatives such as Good Material Magazine.

In building 513 the Print Workshop was open for demonstrations of screen printing and in building 516 students from across the Higher Ed programs presented work in a series of “Open Studios.” Work was displayed in vitrines, on tables and on mannequins and included works in progress from undergraduates, fourth year and masters students.

One of the highlights of the day was the Runway showcase for VE and HE students held in the Hanger. The show featured work by alumni Amanda Nichols, Benjamin Garg, Kit Valerio, Amy Thomas, Julia English and Hannah Berry, current Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) students such as Lakkari Kim, Molly Johnson, Olivia Rowan and Amy Lawrence, and second year Associate Degree of Fashion (Design Technology) students such as Lillian Armitage and Tia Korevaar. It was a special moment for potential future students to see the work of current students and recent graduates across multiple programs and year levels.     

Many thanks to RMIT student photographers Kennardi Sebastian, Jovita Sari Gotama, Huong Truong, Audrey Michael for the great images of Open Day 2019.

RMIT Sustainability Annual Report 

The RMIT Sustainability Report for 2018 includes a Feature Case Study on all the initiatives being put in place across the School of Fashion and Textiles. The Report is a great platform for sharing the work being done across the School.

The five-page spread features examples of sustainability embedded in our programs, including  in Textile Design and Fashion Entrepreneurship, as well as details about the establishment of the Garden Studio, student participation at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit and the showcase of student work at the end of year event, So, Sow, Sew. Work by students, Katherine Nolan, Georgia Zulian, and Jemma Lobwein is also featured. Take a look back on previous issues of the Houndstooth Wrap for more details about these activities and events.

‘Garden Studio’ Growings

We have now entered Gulung (Orchid season), early spring. It is still cold but the days are getting longer and the skies are getting brighter. The orchids are in season and the Muyan (silver wattle) and Yellow box are in flower, providing nectar for birds and bees. Koalas are mating, Lyrebirds are making their courtship displays, moths are emerging and the birds are continuing to nest in time for true spring. 

On Monday 5 August, Dani Andree hosted a two-hour Garden Studio visit and Natural Dye Workshop with the third-year “Closing the Loop” studio. The studio, led by Kate Sala and including workshops with Miriam Borcherdt and Courtney Holm is about teaching students how to apply circular design principles to their own personal practices. The garden visit started with an introduction to the garden, including details of the initiative such as plant care, selection and labelling, composting, and dye testing. Dani tells us:

“I talked about our future hopes and dreams for the Garden Studio and the campus landscape as a functional space. We talked about each of the plants in the garden and discussed things like the fugitive nature of plant-derived colour, including the possibilities, limitations and current research about natural dye, the concept of ‘plant-time’ and its relation to ‘human time’ within the creative process, especially when we think about the notion of collaborating with plants, and the ethics of using plants for creative outcomes. This conversation gave the students an opportunity to think about a different way of producing garments and textiles, particularly when they are considering the idea of a long-term relationship with garments or textiles that needs maintenance and care over time. 

After the tour, we went to the Print Workshop, where I showed the group some of the testing I’ve been working on:

  • Suitable fibres: protein vs cellulose, differences in treatment and colour outcomes
  • Mordants, binders, pigments, dye extracts
  • Quantities of raw plant matter required; storage of plant matter
  • Extraction of colour from plants by boiling
  • Intensifying colour for use in printing and hand-painting
  • Experiments in Indigo printing & recycled indigo printing
  • Plant-derived dye practitioners and important reference texts

Finally, the students had the opportunity to do some hand painting with my pre-prepared plants onto soy-treated cotton and linen. 

Spring Planting Workshop

We welcome you to join us in the garden for a planting workshop at lunchtime on Tuesday 10th September! See you there.

Planting Workshop

Stay tuned for the next wrap on Melbourne Fashion Week, updates on the building program on the Brunswick campus and the latest industry projects.

 – Compiled by Dr Harriette Richards, Research Assistant for the School of Fashion and Textiles

Wrapping Grad show, Métiers and Situation Brunswick

It’s nesting season. On the Brunswick campus, a pair of Waa ‘trickster crows’ have built an impressive nest in one of the tallest gum trees at the centre of campus, while a couple of wood ducks are foraging on the lawn and looking for a safe space in the undergrowth for their spring nest. Garden committee co-chair and dye specialist Dani Andree has been busy planting new rosemary and perennial marigolds and experimenting with plant dyes.

With semester two about to start, let’s look back at some exciting design events that happened in June: Graduate London Fashion Week, Show Us Your Métiers, and Situation Brunswick.

Graduate London Fashion Week – Bridget Petry

London, 2-5 June 2019

Every year, RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles selects one graduate student to take their collection to show in London for Graduate Fashion Week. This year, our graduate representative was Bridget Petry. She showed her work on the runway of the International Fashion Award show at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane alongside 40 other students from universities all over the world. The Houndstooth Wrap got in touch with Bridget in London to ask her about the experience.

“Graduate Fashion Week had a huge exhibition you had to walk through in order to get to the catwalk hall. The exhibition was full of stalls from schools throughout England; tables full of publications and portfolios with mannequin displays and racks of garments from students collections. There were also other stalls focused on career paths. A highlight was the LVMH stall, where students lined up to talk with and show their work to representatives from Givenchy, Dior, JW Anderson.

The show itself was a bit nerve wracking but it was also really great and I was so proud to see my collection on stage with people from all over the world.

My Honours project ‘Cardboard Ballroom’ explores the relationship between high-fi and low-fi, influenced by my own childhood. When I was young, my twin sister and I were engulfed in the colour blue as a form of identity. We would construct cardboard worlds from items we found around us. My work delves into this child-like territory and embodies low-fi with moments of high-fi refinements, through unlikely parings and juxtapositions. My collection investigates low-fi through rawness and impermanence, reflected through ephemeral materials such as tape, plastic and cellophane. Ideals of high-fi are manifested through refined construction and the notion of dressing up; applying beading techniques and embodying components of the ball gown that was deemed as the epitome of dress through my childhood eyes. 

The chance to go to London with my collection and have it seen on an international stage was such an incredible opportunity. I wanted to make the most of the trip so I am staying on in London to try and find work/internships to gain experience within the fashion industry. Without this step I probably wouldn’t have been able to go overseas and look for job prospects so soon after graduating. It’s a weird time actually. Studying was such a constant part of my life and all I had ever known, but now that I have graduated I am unsure what is in store for the future. I’m currently still trying to figure that out. I would love to accumulate as much industry experience as I can and then maybe in the future undertake my Masters.”

17A_00219 copy 2

Work by Bridget Petry

Good luck in London Bridget!


Wednesday, 12 June

At the end of semester one, Year 2 Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) students presented their métiers at an exhibition celebration hosted in the Hanger. The show was an opportunity for students to display their work exploring the idea of tailoring and the jacket. An array of projects were on display, including workbooks displaying design process and thinking, which provided insight into elements of experimentation and design testing.

We asked a couple of students about their garment designs:

Jacinta Lombardozzi: ‘A continuum of twenty-two pockets to carry each body part. The pocket is a home away from home. It is a private vessel in which the owner can retreat to seek safety and security it. The pocket is sacred and dear…’

Jarrod Koutros: ‘This garment subverts the traditional notion of the tailored jacket via the application of distortion’.

Thank you to Sonya Kraan for the wonderful photographs!

Situation Brunswick 

Thursday, 13 June

Situation Brunswick was a live fashion event featuring a selection of work by Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) third year students, led by Dr Tarryn Handcock and Dr Tassia Joannides.

The event presented a series of site-responsive fashion design collections that highlighted the relationships between fashion, identity, and Brunswick. Inhabiting and studying the area on foot, the designers celebrated vibrancy and flux in Brunswick. The one-night program included innovative garments, unique installations, and live performances in response to the culture and environment of the area. The event was supported by RMIT University, Moreland City Council, Siteworks, and the Masters Institute of Creative Education.

We got in touch with Yongbin Zhang and Isabella Markos to hear a bit more about the ‘Project 3056’ studio, the event, and their collections, ‘Colour Language’ and ‘I allow you to see what I want you to see.’

Yongbin tells us: “I graduated from the Bachelor of Fashion (Design Technology) in 2018, but I didn’t think I had enough knowledge to develop my ideas. In the ‘Project 3056’ studio, I advanced my design research, used colour in my work for first time, learnt new skills, and had the opportunity to show my designs in a public event. I feel very grateful for this experience. 

My collection, ‘Colour Language,’ was inspired by the streets of Brunswick. What stood out to me during exploration of the suburb were the vibrant colours and shapes of the street art, an environmental manifestation of the spirit of the Brunswick community, which is diverse, bright, and energetic. The collection is about the combination of colours and shapes. I think colour is a language that everyone can understand because it can communicate our feelings and emotions without words.

I experimented with different materials and techniques to create a language of colours and shapes. For example, I created a yellow singlet and a red rectangle sweater, both of which were made with a few long strips in order to allow for a variety of styling options. I also made a dress using a triangle shaped piece, which I folded and sewed to produce a patterned texture. The pieces highlight the clashes between a language of colours and shapes.

The event was held in Siteworks, Brunswick. The spirit of my performance was vivification, exploration and the joy of life. The whole performance was divided into two parts, one of which was slow and the other of which was fast. The models began walking slowly, and then, as they begin to explore the world around them, they find the spirit of their life, the joy, and the vibrancy. They are living in the colourful and vibrant world.”

For Isabella: “Project 3056  was a space of encouragement, self-reflection and growth, pushing me to articulate and communicate important issues and leaving me with a much more comprehensive understanding of myself and my community through the act of design, construction and public interaction. 

I used the studio project as an opportunity to investigate Brunswick’s red-light establishments and adult entertainment venues and promote the healthy growth of a sex-positive attitude through the de-stigmatization of sex work. My collection, ‘I allow you to see what I want you to see’ is a capsule collection made for a diverse range of wearers. It is inspired by the late night and early morning commute shift workers experience when it’s dark, cold and at times dangerous. Reversible garments, wide lapels, extended shoulders, full sleeves, exaggerated shapes and layering messages tap into a desire for security and a feeling of ease as well as concealment. Dark nylons emphasised by neon contrasts add to the survivalist aesthetic of the collection. 

A lot of time went into the planning my response to the site and thinking about the ways I could manipulate the public’s engagement and interpretation of the performance. I used lighting, projections and sound to create a feeling of unease and discomfort in the viewer, whilst the garments provided a sense of protection and refuge for the wearers. The venue was dimly lit with a red spotlights on either side of a built-up brick wall with a text projection ‘I allow you to see what I want you to see.’ Audience members stood immersed in the powerful presence of the space as the models stomped through the crowd, past the projection and down the ‘runway,’ accompanied by a hardcore club soundtrack produced by Melbourne sound artist Tim Carter. 

I aim to continue exploring sex work in relation to addressing and dressing the body with hopes I can continue to assist this communities acceptance into the broader community.

Thank you Yongbin and Bella for sharing your work with us.

‘Garden Studio’ Growings

We are still in the depths of Waring (Wombat season). It is cold but the birds are beginning to nest. It won’t be long before we move into Guling (Orchid season) and the days begin to get longer and warmer. 

We would like to thank Hayley Cordes for her hard work collaborating with us in the nomination of the Brunswick campus, specifically the RMIT Dye Garden, for the ACTS Green Gown Awards in the Learning, Teaching and Skills category.

“The School of Fashion and Textiles at our Brunswick campus continues to embed sustainability into learning and teaching in innovative ways and has built a strong, informed community as a result.” – Hayley Cordes

Marini Ferlazzo wombat

Wombat drawing by Marini Ferlazzo

In the Garden Studio, we have some new plants! Garden committee co-chair Dani Andree recently planted rosemary and perennial marigolds, tagetes lucida, as companion plants to keep the bugs away. The winter months are quiet in the garden. The sun is still shining though, making everything glisten.

Dani has also been busy doing dye experiments in the textiles studio using plants from the garden. She has used marigold flowers, indigo, sorrel root, eucalyptus and mint root to make these gorgeous colours. Tests have been on fuji silk and wool suiting, premordanted with alum. To follow along with new planting, harvesting and dye testing, join us on Facebook and Instagram.

Indigenous Word of the Week

To celebrate the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, RMIT has introduced Indigenous Word of the Week. Each week, this initiative introduces a new Boon wurrung and/or Woi wurrung word to build knowledge of Australian Indigenous languages for everyday use. Indigenous Word of the Week was inspired by the set of Indigenous word cards created by Dr Marion Muliaumaseali’i.

The first Indigenous Word of the Week was:

Green Impact 2019

RMIT has joined up to Green Impact, a change and engagement program where individuals get into teams and work together to undertake a range of sustainability actions. These actions cover all areas of sustainability across campus life, using an accreditation scheme with an awards element to encourage teams to increase their sustainability knowledge and engagement.

green impact

The RMIT Fashion and Textiles Garden Committee has developed a team called “The Composters”! To start your own team, get in touch with Sustainability at RMIT.

We also encourage you to sign up to the Sustainable RMIT Newsletter or follow Sustainability at RMIT on Facebook or Instagram for updates about news and events with Sustainability at RMIT.

– Compiled by Dr Harriette Richards, Research Assistant for the School of Fashion and Textiles

The Business of Fashion

Semester one has come to a close – already! While the students have officially finished classes, there is still lots happening on campus. Winter has arrived, the leaves from the deciduous trees have fallen and the grass has returned to a bright green after the autumn rains. As the business of the seasons continues to shift, we turn to consider the business of fashion.

First up: The Business of Fashion (BoF) Survey of the world’s Top Fashion Schools has just released its results for 2019. We are very excited to announce that the two programs we submitted for review have BOTH been recognised as being leaders in fashion education!

  • Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) – selected in Top 37 Schools in this category.  Ranked in Top 11 with all four badges – Best: Overall, Best: Global Influence, Best: Learning Experience and Best: Long Term Value.
  • Masters of Fashion (Entrepreneurship) – selected in Top 10 (fewer entries in this category).  We received one badge – Best: Learning Experience.

Jennyfer Alonzo Aguirre shares insights into her experience with the Global Fashion Enterprise study tour in Europe. Dr Carol Tan tells us about the changes happening in the Fashion Entrepreneurship program. Benjamin Garg recounts the highlights of his time presenting as part of the St George NextGen show during Australian Fashion Week. Julia English talks about her time in Copenhagen as part of the Youth Fashion Summit. Finally, we look at the composter in the Brunswick Natural Dye Garden.

Global Study Tour – Europe

February 2019

At the beginning of 2019, students from Global Fashion Enterprise travelled to Europe as part of a Global Study Tour with Dr Carol Tan. MA (Fashion Entrepreneurship) student Jennyfer Alonzo Aguirre told us a bit about the trip.

For the first part of the tour, we visited Amsterdam where we went to the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) to meet with students and alumni as well as established designers including Mattijs van Bergen, Melanie Brown and Micckeus. We visited the headquarters of PVH group (owners of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger) to learn about the changes they are making in their design and product development processes in line with their zero waste goals. We also spent time at Denim City, a company that stocks sustainable denim products and doubles as an educational institute, bringing to light the environmental impacts of denim production. As a denim lover, this was huge highlight for me.  

From Amsterdam we travelled to London via the Eurostar, arriving at St Pancras station on a Saturday night during peak hour! This part of the trip focused on market research. We visited the head offices of Edited and Thread to learn more about the behind-the-scenes side of fashion and attended a lecture at the Isituto Marangoni, where we gained a lot of insight into the business dimension of fashion. Economics and data are elements that are often overlooked in discussions about fashion so hearing data lecturer Abdullah Abo Milhim explain this part of the business to us was so helpful. 

As an emerging designer, and someone who would like to have a business in the international market, it is imperative to know the industry and the market. It was wonderful meeting creative and innovative people who are committed to making change in the industry as this inspired me to continue doing this in my own way too. 

Changes to Fashion Higher Ed Programs: Fashion Entrepreneurship 

Second in our series profiling some of the new programs and courses that will be introduced across the School in 2020 is the Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Fashion Entrepreneurship, both of which will be embedded into the first year of the Master of Fashion (Entrepreneurship) program. We spoke to Senior Lecturer in Fashion Entrepreneurship Dr Carol Tan for some insights into this newly expanded offering.


The new Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma of Fashion Entrepreneurship will be added to the first year of the Master of Fashion (Entrepreneurship) program to provide an opportunity for students to gain a credential in fashion entrepreneurship without having to undertake the full, two-year Masters program. In both the Certificate and the Diploma, students will be provided with an introduction to the capabilities, knowledge, and confidence they need to create their own fashion enterprise and/or build a career within the global fashion industry. Within one semester of full-time study, students are able to achieve a Graduate Certificate in Fashion (Entrepreneurship).

We are really excited about these new programs as they will enhance student experience by way of increased student choice and flexibility, offering multiple exit points along the fashion entrepreneurship pathway.

Australian Fashion Week 2019

12-17 May 2019

During Mercedes-Benz Australian Fashion Week, RMIT Master of Fashion (Design) graduate Benjamin Garg presented as part of the St George NextGen show on Thursday 16 May. We caught up with Benjamin to hear all about it.

I recently presented as part of a showcase of emerging Australian fashion designers after being awarded a ‘St.George NextGen’ Fashion Award, one of the most prestigious awards an Australian fashion graduate can achieve. I am grateful to RMIT University for having entered me into this competition, and to the industry panel for selecting me as a recipient. 

The show itself was held in Carriageworks Sydney, a unique location built over the original site of the Sydney train depot. The rawness of the venue – with is raggedy elements – really gave the runway a youthful and ethical affect, which played well against my designs.

Inspiration for my collection came from the fabric ‘Kota Doria.’ I am inspired by the hand-loom fabrication and its geography; culture as well as architecture. These elements influence all of my design, including the colours and dimensions of my work that convey a story of connections. Garments in my collection are kinetic and voluminous, they also have audio dimensions to them, which can only be experienced while wearing. All of these tactile dimensions are part of the geography of Kota Doria (where this fabric come from). The collection has also been supported by the ethical Indian shoe company ‘Desi Hangover,’ which helps to keep the shoemaker’s art alive.

Over all the experience was amazing, but most beautiful part was meeting the other designers in Gen Next. The other highlight of this experience has been the response I have received. The show and competition is globally recognised and I have been overwhelmed by the positivist and encouragement I have received since the show.  I am now trying to find a way to be able to fulfil my flow of orders! Once that is settled I will be able to begin to focus on a new collection. I’m hoping to experiment with plant-based fibres or some other form of unknown hand-loom fabric. 

Benjamin Garg 06

RMIT Master of Fashion (Design) graduate Benjamin Garg at the St.George Next Gen show during MBAFW, 2019.

Copenhagen Fashion Summit 

15-16 May

The Youth Fashion Summit 2018-2019 program is an important part of the Copenhagen Fashion summit. In partnership with the United Nations Global Compact and Pandora, and in collaboration with the Global Fashion Agenda and Copenhagen School of Design and Technology, the two-year program challenged 100 talented fashion students to create a framework for the industry to reach two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): DG 3, ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, and SDG 5, achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

The program focuses on sustainability education and idea generation. The mission is to give students moving into the fashion industry the platform, tools and opportunity to influence the decisions being made today, but that will be felt tomorrow. We spoke to Youth Fashion Summit delegate and Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) alumni Julia English about her experiences at the 2019 event.

I had the honour of returning to Copenhagen this year as one of the Youth Fashion Summit (YFS) participants for second time. As a smaller contingent than last year – only half of the 110 participants from 2018 were able to return – there was a greater sense of community, which only increased as we worked together over three full days. While last year’s work was broadly considering fashion’s impact in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals of Health and Wellbeing and Gender Equality, this year’s YFS was framed around a case competition with Pandora, concentrating on the jewellery sector and gender equality. Broken into four groups, we focused on the different areas of production: raw materials; sourcing; manufacturing; and citizen and society. Through assessing these areas, a pitch for change was developed and presented to the jury, with citizens and society being the winner and creating a film around their concept of #humangender.

We also had the opportunity to be the youth voice within the Copenhagen Fashion Summit,  asking the industry to use their power and privilege to achieve gender equality. In addressing the industry, we synthesised our pitches into the key drivers for change, and broadened the lens to include all fashion stakeholders. Our key calls to action were for: increased traceability of supply chains; empathetic relationships across industry sectors; collaboration to support women’s empowerment; and addressing customers as humans, not genders. I was one of the four speakers who represented the YFS, and I loved having the opportunity to point out our fortunate position of being capable of enacting change, and to question what is being done with that privilege.

YFS_images2019 (5 of 5)

Julia English with her team at the Youth Fashion Summit, Copenhagen 2019

The industry needs provocative, yet empathetic voices, and I felt that this is where the Youth Summit excelled. Through the network of friends I built there, I was encouraged to not accept mediocre change in our industry, but rather to collectively push for more. For my own practice, it has increased my interest in tackling the sustainability of mass production, where answers are complicated due to the sheer quantity of consumption and entrenched expectation of low prices.

‘Brunswick Plant’ Garden Growings

It is Chinnup season. Winter, season of cockatoos. It is cold; there are morning frosts, bleak mists and freezing winds. There may be early wildflowers, orchid rosettes and silver wattles. The rains continue. 


The garden isn’t always a bed of roses. In winter, some of the beds are emptied of plants, the soil turned and prepared for the next planting season. This is a time for consolidation and preparation. We have had some serious trouble with aphids and white butterflies (they LOVE Kale!) so we are welcoming in some new marigolds, perennial tagetes lucida, as companion plants to keep the bugs away. We are also planting some rosemary.

In the meantime, our test composter is thriving! We just have one composter at present (with plans for more in future) and it is off to a great start. The deciduous autumn leaves make a great dry base and garden clippings and aphid-infested mizuna add much needed moisture. The balance between wet and dry is important part of successful composting and so far we have been lucky to be able to strike this balance well. If you are in the garden you can take a peak at the decomposition through the window on the side of the compost bin. If you have organic scraps – banana peels, apple cores… feel free to toss them in for the worms.

Join us on Facebook and Instagram for news and events from the garden.

– Compiled by Dr Harriette Richards, Research Assistant for the School of Fashion and Textiles


DIG IT – Houndstooth Wraps on Flower Show, Youth Fashion Assembly and Composting

The air is warm one day, cool the next – it is Autumn. Leaves are falling, perfect for composting. Thinking about the cycle of the seasons leads us to thinking about cycles of production, for example, the circular fashion system, something that students and staff spent time discussing and work-shopping during the Youth Fashion Assembly on the 16th April. In this issue of the Houndstooth, we wrap around these ideas with the Assembly, adventures at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show, and news of the composter in the Brunswick Dye Garden.

Editor note: We have been experiencing trouble with email notifications since the RMIT migration to Office365. If you have missed recent editions of the Houndstooth Wrap be sure to check the archives for all the 2019 happenings across the School of Fashion and Textiles. 

RMIT Floral Fashion

Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

17-31 March

Every year, as part of the Future Matter(s) studio, RMIT Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) students take part in a plant-based ‘Floral Fashion’ design competition at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, held at the Carlton Gardens and Royal Exhibition Building at the end of March. The 2019 theme was: ‘Future Matter(s): Ecology, Climate and Community.’ The sixteen student participants explored the use of living plants as a unique design material and – with their work displayed in the Great Hall of Flowers – the exhibition as a mode for contemporary fashion enterprise. Three winners took home a share in the $3000 prize money.

Congratulations to Taylah CaddyMeg Bradbury and Zoe May Sutherland!

Floral Fashion winner Taylah Caddy

First-place winner at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, Taylah Caddy with her design ‘Not knowing future matters’

RMIT floral fashion exhibit

Second-place winner Meg Bradbury’s design ‘Fight for the bight’

RMIT floral fashion exhibit

Third-place winner Zoe May Sutherland’s design ‘Beyond the park’

The Floral Fashion exhibit has been a special part of the Flower and Garden show for over 18 years. Because of this, project lead Dr Georgia McCorkill says that students come to the studio with a great deal of excitement about the event and competition.

While the process is very fast-paced, with only five weeks from design to installation, the students were enthusiastic about their projects from start to finish, showed a great deal of teamwork and support for one another and learnt invaluable skills about working under pressure and with unfamiliar materials and contexts.

Fashion Lecturer Dr Tarryn Handcock said the collaboration was an opportunity for students to gain outward-facing industry experience. “Design should never be in a bubble. Floral Fashion gives students perspective on alternative modes of fashion and exhibition.”

First-prize winner Taylah Caddy presented a design featuring a gas mask made from flowers, an umbrella made from leaves and a succulent jacket. The design was entitled ‘Not knowing future matters’ and examined societal attitudes and ignorance about the impacts of climate change. Caddy told Jasmijn van Houten it was an amazing feeling to have been honoured with the prize.“RMIT has given me a lot of opportunities and opened me up to a lot of new ideas that I’ve never had before. It’s allowed me to think differently and try so many different things. I never thought I’d be working with flowers instead of fabrics.”

The competition judges (curator for the National Trust of Australia, Elizabeth Anya-Petrivna, sustainable fashion writer and blogger Leeyong Soo and Lecturer in Industrial Design Juliette Anich) commended Caddy’s skill in design and installation, including her thoughtful use of plants that would last the length of the show.

At the show’s conclusion, students disassembled their work and utilised the composter in the Brunswick Dye Garden to return suitable plant matter to nature (see below in ‘Brunswick Plant’ Garden Growings).

Youth Fashion Assembly 

Tuesday 16 April

After attending the Copenhagen Youth Fashion Summit as fourth-year Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) students 2018, RMIT alumni Julia English and Amanda Morglund were inspired to put together a similar event here at RMIT, giving students from across the Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) program the opportunity to discuss aspects of the contemporary fashion system and workshop how we might improve the future of fashion, especially in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.globalgoalsThe day was centred around five key focus areas:

  1. Circular Systems
  2. Materials and Production Ethics
  3. Global Responsibility
  4. Emerging Technology
  5. New Methods of Practice

Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) alumni Hannah Berry and Nicola Fogarty  facilitated a panel discussion with five industry guests, Courtney Holm (A.BCH), Lois Hazel, Nicki Colls (Fibreshed Melbourne), Saskia Fairfull (IFab) and Teslin Doud (The Threads, Creative Studio). The discussion centred around the five key focus areas of the day and included numerous student questions from the audience. Student questions keenly reiterated the sense of urgency felt about the current state of environmental and economic instability in relation to the fashion industry.


Industry Panel, L-R: Taslin Doud (The Threads, Creative Studio), Saskia Fairfull (IFAB), Nicki Colls (Fibreshed Melbourne), Lois Hazel (Lois Hazel) and Courtney Holm (A.BCH) with moderators Nicola Fogarty and Hannah Berry.

Following a break for lunch, students broke into five groups to attend workshops on each of the five key focus areas. Workshops looked at questions of fashion’s environmental footprint, and the future potential of circular solutions; sustainability as a business imperative and moral responsibility; technological opportunities for improved – even revolutionised – ethical production methods; and future responses to the ongoing issues of overproduction and overconsumption. At the end of the afternoon, the results of the workshops were presented in the Hanger and the event concluded with a closing address.

The event provided students with a unique opportunity to workshop fashion futures with industry professionals. Being involved in practical sessions allowed participants to think seriously about how sustainability and ethics play into their creative practice, and how they will negotiate these questions in their future design and consumption decisions.

‘Brunswick Plant’ Garden Growings

We are now in early winter, April and May. This is Waring (Wombat) Season. Waring emerge to graze and bask in the sunshine. The native honey bees are still around. The country is cooling and the rains are more frequent though it is still dry. Fungi have appeared. Bunjil, the Eagle, is building his nest, and the Brush-tail and Ringtail Possums are mating. Many different moths have emerged, and are food for birds during the day and for Sugar and Feathertail gliders at night. 


Thursday 4 April 

Following the success of RMIT students at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show, the garments were dismantled and brought back to the Brunswick campus for disposal. For the first time in the years that RMIT has participated in the Floral Fashions exhibition, the organic matter from the creative works could be composted on campus. This was an auspicious way to build upon composting in the Dye Garden. The workshop event during Sustainability Week was a great way to start with the collection of dry autumn leaves. Incorporating the wet material from the floral garments as a part of a studio project really showed the potential of the garden to be a space for learning about the entire life-cycle of garments and fashion futures.


Entries for the School of Fashion and Textiles / DSC VE School competition to design a garden hat are due by 4.30pm, Friday 10th MAY. There is a $300 cash prize at stake! We are very excited to see your creativity in hat form.

Entries must take into account varying weather conditions, differing head sizes, capacity for sustainable production and practicality of wear whilst gardening. The hat design must also reflect something of the spirit of the Brunswick garden community. Any questions and submissions to be directed to


– Compiled by Dr Harriette Richards, Research Assistant for the School of Fashion and Textiles

Catwalks, Cars and a Competition

March was an action packed month. We welcomed the cooler Autumn weather and the start of the School year; our students and graduates participated in catwalk shows and university challenges; new staff settled in and we launched an exciting design competition at a Sustainability Week event in the Brunswick Dye Garden.

2019 iD International Emerging Designer Awards

Dunedin, Friday and Saturday 15-16 March

The first of two iD International Emerging Designer shows took place on Friday 15th March, a date now indelibly etched into the history of New Zealand due to the horrific terrorist attack that occurred in Christchurch that day. The Board of iD Dunedin Inc. released a statement noting that “after agonising deliberation and consultation with the police, funders, designers and the iD International Emerging Designer finalists” they had decided to go ahead with the shows. “One of the iD Board’s guiding principles is collaborating with people from different cultures and diverse countries. They considered this principle as they made this agonising decision. Kia kaha New Zealand.”

In this time of great sadness, mourning, and uncertainty, fashion can seem like a frivolous pursuit. However, the concepts, themes and narratives with which fashion designers contend, and with which the iD International Emerging Designer Awards are most interested, are the very issues that can help us make sense of events such as that of the 15th March. The work of these designers deal with questions of cultural diversity, inclusion and decolonisation. Their work is of poignant significance in the face of division, hatred and terror. In addition, it brings a much needed sense of joy in a time when hearts are breaking.

Congratulations to RMIT Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) graduates Betty Liu and Anna Petry for their wins. Anna was awarded The Fabric Store Award for Excellence in Design and Betty was named John and Marelda Gallaher Family iD International Emerging Designer Second Place Winner. Betty’s collection, ‘Eating the Other,’ explores the ways in which Western fashion reinforces dogmatic stereotypes of Chinese culture. Judge Amanda Linnell said that she “tackled a complex and delicate issue, which she handled beautifully showcasing her craft and intellectual execution.” Well done Betty and Anna!

VAMFF National Graduate Showcase

Thursday 7 March

The VAMFF National Graduate Showcase celebrates the next generation of Australian fashion design talent. The runway at the Royal Exhibition Building on Thursday 7 March featured the work of 12 graduates, handpicked from design institutions and universities across the country. The Showcase was presented by Target, supported by Fashion Journal. Three RMIT graduates, Benjamin Garg, Conor Utri, Amanda Nichols presented their work in the show. Congratulations!

“Garments in my collection are kinetic and voluminous, they also include audio elements, which can only be experienced while wearing. All these tactilities are part of the geography of Kota Doria (where the fabric comes from).” Benjamin Garg


Benjamin Garg

“Besides the individual scales for the net dresses, which are laser cut, everything within the collection bears the effects of handwork. Tweeds and cable knits are hand dyed and needle felted whilst ‘mud stained’ and ‘worn through’ garments are hand dyed or bleached to give the appearance of ‘weathering.'” Conor Utri


Conor Utri

“This collection is #1 of the replica project. The project will continue on to #2 and will be once again be based upon an iconic archival look.” Amanda Nichols


Amanda Nichols

Grand Prix

Saturday and Sunday, 16-17 March

The School of Fashion and Textiles exhibited at the 2019 Melbourne Grand Prix, as part of the RMIT marquee in the Innovation and Technology Hub. This was a chance to promote the upcoming arrival of our new flame manikin, as well as the new flame chamber that will be built to accommodate the manikin. The display also showcased a range of innovative textiles and materials, including the Wool-Kevlar Ballistic Vest Fabric, the Mock Up Soft Body Armour Insert, co-developed by Professor Lijing Wang, and fire-fighters protective clothing fabric developed by the Centre for Materials Innovation and Future Fashion.

PhD candidate Rashmita Bardalai used the opportunity to gather data for her study into the emotions that may be elicited through the touch of everyday materials. She invited racegoers to touch a range of materials hidden from view and respond to a series of questions about their emotional responses.

Circular Fashion Strategies University Hackathon

Australian Circular Fashion Conference (ACFC), 19-22 March

The 2019 ACFC included a design-thinking challenge for universities in Australia and New Zealand, in which teams of students worked collaboratively with an industry partner to analyse barriers to circular practices and come up with innovative strategies to shape the circular economy in the fashion industry. The theme of the event was ‘Materials ReUse’ and the RMIT team – Dr Georgia McCorkill, Jo CramerGeorgia Zulian, Paula Timmermann, and Yasaman (Yassie) Samie – was partnered with Woolmark.

Congratulations to the team for being awarded the top prize!

Team members Georgia and Paula told us about their experiences of the event.

2019_ACFC banner

Georgia: Our team was partnered with Woolmark and given the challenge of embedding circularity into their company. Our biggest issue was that we were not given a physical product to work with, something we could have improved or re-designed. We were attempting to provide a company-wide strategy for improved circular production methods. While we struggled with the scope of the challenge, after two days of brainstorming we had come up with hundreds of ideas – from wild plans to practical solutions. In the end we were able to present a tangible result that could be easily implemented within the Woolmark company.

The event really encouraged us to think in different ways; to be critical about current practices within the industry and to push the boundaries. The opportunity to be surrounded by leaders in circular fashion design was such a privilege. It was inspiring to see various stakeholders gather around their commitment to changing the industry. I now have a clear sense of my purpose in fashion design. I can see the relevance of  my practice and the ways my use of concepts such as wear, repair and longevity might be applied to the changing future of the industry. “

Paula: The Hackathon really got us to question our different approaches and points of view. We came to the event with varying levels of experience and expertise in the fashion industry, which instilled in our team an eclectic approach to problem solving. Whilst at times this was a challenge, I believe it also led to our success.

I’m preparing for a future in sustainable management, so it was amazing to hear about real industry problems in circular fashion. Having the opportunity to work on a current issue was so rewarding and has encouraged me to continue working in this area.”

Introducing: Dr Rebecca van Amber

Dr Rebecca van Amber joined RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles as Senior Lecturer in Textiles at the end of 2018. Originally from rural Minnesota, USA, she lived in New Zealand for 9 years prior to moving to Australia in 2016. She has been involved in the development of the exciting new Bachelor of Textiles, Sustainable Innovation program that we profiled in the last issue of the Houndstooth Wrap. Welcome to RMIT Rebecca!


Dr Rebecca van Amber in the Humboldt Mountains, South Island, New Zealand

What is your expertise/area of interest in Fashion? My area of expertise is clothing and textile science. I like to think of myself as a fabric/materials scientist, and I enjoy testing fabrics and garments to better understand their properties. I also enjoy designing test methods and experiments! The other area I’m really passionate about is sustainability and innovation, and how science and technology will impact the fashion industry, whether it’s through the creation and use of more sustainable materials, circular economy/new business models, or the use of big data and AI.

What excites you about working at RMIT? For the past few years I’ve been working as a researcher in fibres and material science. Coming to RMIT and being able to work in fashion and textiles, as well as teach and supervise students and help develop the new sustainable innovation degree is basically my dream job.

When did you move to Australia and what has been the most surprising thing about moving here? I moved here in 2016, and I must say I have been very surprised by the size of the insects!! 

We hear you are really into the outdoors… Yes I am definitely into the outdoors! In New Zealand, it’s called “tramping” – and I must admit I do really miss the NZ Mountains. One of my favourite trips of all time was a 7-day, mostly off-track trip to a glacial lake called “Lochnagar” – which is a New Zealand alpine lake that had been on my list of places to visit for a long time.  It takes about 3 days to walk there, unless you want to take a helicopter – but that would be cheating! 

‘Brunswick Plant’ Garden Growings

Late March through May is Gwangal Moronn, season of the native honey bees. Autumn is when the country starts to cool down after the summer heat. It is a time of sunrises, bees and flocking birds. Gwangal moronn season is depicted by insects like the hawk moth, plants like pink heath, and being at home in the wuurn. 


Thursday 28 March

Garden Committee deputy-chair Dani Andree and Nyssa Marrow hosted a natural dye and live composting workshop in the Brunswick Dye Garden during RMIT Sustainability Week. The event was organised by the Sustainability team as part of their roster of exciting events during the Week. Thank you to Hayley Cordes for planning the event! Sign up for the Sustainable RMIT Newsletter or follow Sustainability at RMIT on Facebook for updates and news of future events.

Third-year Bachelor of Textiles student Kendelle Hobbs recently returned from an exchange program in India, where she interned with a traditional woodblock printing company and attended a natural dye workshop. She presented her swatch books at the event and discussed some of the techniques she learnt whilst interning. The event was a great opportunity to welcome students into the garden to learn about some of the potential uses of the plants. It was also the start of the composter, with autumn leaves the first brown matter to be deposited in the compost bin!

Thank you Matt Houston for the photographs. 


We are very excited to announce the launch of our Garden Hat Design Competition! We invite staff and students from across the School of Fashion and Textiles and the DSC VE School to submit entries for this competition by 4.30pm, Friday 10th MAY. 

Entries must take into account varying weather conditions, differing head sizes, capacity for sustainable production and practicality of wear whilst gardening. The hat design must also reflect something of the spirit of the Brunswick garden community. Any questions and submissions to be directed to


– Compiled by Dr Harriette Richards, Research Assistant for the School of Fashion and Textiles

RMIT on Tour, Introducing Program Changes and New Staff

2019 has gathered momentum early with students and staff on tour in Japan and big changes happening across the Fashion and Textiles Programs. In this Houndstooth Wrap, we profile the first in our series of program changes, the Bachelor of Textiles, Sustainable Innovation, and introduce new staff member Dr Stephen Wigley, Associate Dean Fashion Enterprise. We also update you on growings in the Brunswick Garden, including exciting new planting!

Global Study Tour – Japan

30 Jan – 12 Feb 2019

At the end of January, while the sun was still baking the Australian landscape, a group of third- and fourth-year Fashion and Textiles students, along with Pia Interlandi and Sonya Kraan, visited Japan for a two-week study tour. The trip included visits to Bunka University in Tokyo and a Shibori dye workshop in Kyoto. Three students, Isabelle Matthews, Faith Bailey, and Sarah Brereton gave us some insights into the highlights of the tour.


Photograph by Isabelle Matthews

Isabelle tells us: “We spent the first days of the tour in Tokyo, where we saw the Bunka Graduate fashion show. Then we travelled to Kyoto, where a few of the girls and I went on a tour to a collection of temples in a monastery called Daitoku-ji, once belonging to an influential tea master. These temples were relatively small and simple, unlike many I had been to before that were bedazzled in gold trimmings and teaming with brightly coloured flowers and decadent gardens. They were beautifully calming and peaceful, a place for contemplation for the monks who live there and the tourists who visit.

While in Kyoto we also did a Shibori dyeing workshop, got dressed up in kimono, went to a tea ceremony and wondered around the streets of Gion, where geishas once lived. After Kyoto we travelled to Nagoya where we slept and ate traditionally on Tatami mats. We also went to the Onsen, which is the Japanese communal bath. This was quite an experience! After Nagoya, we travelled back to Tokyo where we did a collaboration with the Bunka fashion design students, and some retail therapy and “market research” at places like Comme de Garcon, Issey Miyake, and RagTag (great second hand shop). A highlight for me was going to the 21_21 Museum (building designed by Issey Miyake) where I became aware of a crafts movement called Mingei. This beautiful movement about craft and creation being intertwined into the everyday life was so inspiring and definitely something I will be researching further this year.”

For Faith: The Japan study tour wasn’t just a trip overseas; it was an experience I’ll never forget. I learnt so much about my own fashion style and practice, Japanese fashion culture, traditional Shibori and weaving techniques, and also about myself.

One of the highlights was our workshop at Bunka Gakuen University in Tokyo. For the design collaboration task, I was paired with Saki and together we produced a design using fabrics we had modified before the tour. Despite the language barrier, Saki and I quickly bonded and became friends. I found it surprising just how easily we communicated with our Japanese peers and hosts. I came onto the tour expecting to find it much more difficult to communicate but people were so kind and were more than willing to try and help us.”

Faith Baily and Suki

Faith Bailey and her collaborator Saki at Bunka

The tour was also an inspiring experience for Sarah.

“We travelled to a little town called Arimatsu, which has a rich history of practicing traditional Shibori. We did a workshop with the Murase family, who were so kind and generous. They taught us the Sekka Shibori technique and afterwards invited us to a beautiful traditional tea ceremony.

The TeamLab ‘Borderless’ digital art exhibition was incredible. You walk through this enormous building with many separate rooms, each as breathtaking as the last. The title ‘Borderless’ is fitting, as you become a part of the artworks as you move among them. The light projections constantly change and with the use of mirrors you often can’t work out where the walls are or where the artworks start and finish.

I could go on forever! Every day was a highlight.” 


Photograph by Isabelle Matthews

(Re)thinking Fashion Globalisation

Bunka Gauken University, 15-16 February 


Delegates at the (Re)thinking Fashion Globalisation at Bunka Fashion College, Tokyo

In mid-February, Dr Harriette Richards attended the (Re)thinking Fashion Globalisation Seminar, co-hosted by the Research Collective for Decolonising Fashion and the Trans-Boundary Fashion Seminar at Bunka Gakuen University in Tokyo. The event bought together scholars, curators and practitioners from across the globe to discuss questions of decolonising fashion and re-thinking our approaches to the binary distinctions between fashion/costume, traditional/modern, past/future. The two day event provided an inspiring and thought-provoking opportunity to discuss and debate the changing shape of fashion studies. Stay tuned for the resulting publication!

Changes to Fashion Higher Ed Programs: Bachelor of Textiles, Sustainable Innovation

There are a lot of changes afoot in the School of Fashion and Textiles. Over the coming months, we will be profiling some of the new programs and courses that will be introduced in 2020. In this issue, we introduce the Bachelor of Textiles, Sustainable Innovation, a truly exciting development in the future of RMIT Fashion and Textiles. We spoke to Senior Lecturer in Textiles Dr Rebecca van Amber for some insights into this offering.


“We are very excited to be developing Sustainable Innovation because it’s an area that we are extremely passionate about. Currently, there are very few courses offered anywhere in the world, and certainly none in Australia, that bring together Sustainability and Innovation in a single undergraduate degree. The delivery will be multi-disciplinary in its approach, meaning graduates will have a broad range of diverse, applicable skills, and will be well prepared for collaboration within the dynamic textile, fashion and related industries. Innovation in this field is critically needed not only to develop new products, but also solve industry problems. We plan to produce graduates who have the skills to impart real industry change.  

Students will develop hands-on, critical thinking and communication skills, with the freedom to shape their degree and focus on what really interests them – whether that is technology, sustainability, materials exploration, or applications related to the human body. This is the sort of degree that many of us wish we could go back and do again ourselves; when we attended University, this type of course just didn’t exist. We hope it is as exciting to prospective students as it is to us.  It’s not every day you get to design your dream degree!”

Introducing: Dr Stephen Wigley 

Dr Stephen Wigley grew up in Glasgow and Frankfurt, Germany but has most recently been based in the Department of Fashion & Textiles at the University of Huddersfield in Leeds, Yorkshire. He has moved to Melbourne with his wife and baby daughter to join us in the School of Fashion and Textiles as Associate Dean in Fashion and Textiles Enterprise. Welcome Stephen!

Stephen Wigley

Welcome Dr Stephen Wigley!

We asked Stephen a few questions to help us get to know him better…

What is your expertise in Fashion?  Although my BA was in Politics and History, I was always interested in fashion and especially the marketing side of the industry. When I graduated I began working with House of Fraser in a management role before becoming Brand Manager for DKNY.  After a few years, I enrolled in the Fashion Marketing Masters program at Glasgow Caledonian University, at the end of which I was offered a role as Research Officer with the University, working on a variety of commercial and industry research and consultancy projects covering the fashion and wider consumer/ lifestyle markets. As my academic career has progressed my research and consultancy interests have focused on interpretations and applications of the brand in fashion, and how the brand interacts with the corporate and creative decisions of a fashion business. 

What excites you about working at RMIT? Quite simply, I’m thrilled to be joining a university which is globally recognised and leads the way in fashion education, and to have the opportunity to work with a brilliant team of people in Fashion Enterprise, the School and the broader college and university.

What’s been the most surprising thing about moving to Australia? Coming from -3 degrees in the UK in January to the recent heatwave was a shock to the system! There’s nothing super-surprising about the move, it’s more the little things: the cashier packing your bag at the supermarket, traffic giving way to pedestrians, people showing an interest in who you are. Overall, so far I’ve found the approach to life more relaxed in Australia and although in the School we’ve all been working hard on our new programs, there’s always a sense of humour and personality in my colleagues – I really appreciate that.

We hear you’re a bit of a fan of the Grand Prix… I’ve always been a fast car fan and have been into F1 for as long as I can remember. Although I don’t follow as closely (or fanatically and noisily) as I used to, I can’t wait for the race in Melbourne. In fact, F1 gave me a ‘fashion moment’ back in 1999, when my friend and I went to the San Marino Grand Prix in Italy and in the course of our adventures managed to crash our rental car into a truck. Not just any truck, a truck owned by Prada – the driver told us, “Miuccia, she not ‘appy….” So ever since then I’ve looked over my shoulder when approaching a Prada store…!

‘Brunswick Plant’ Garden Growings

We are now in late summer, Kooyang. February is Dry Season and March is Eel Season. Plants which suffered from lack of water during the hottest months of summer are now able to renew growth. The Warrack Banksia or Honeysuckle, Long-leaf Box and Silver-leaf Stringybark has come into blossom, providing sweet nectar, and attracting birds. March is called the Eel Season because the female short-finned eels are moving down the streams to the sea; the male eels have been leaving in smaller numbers during the spring and summer. Birds begin to flock before heading north for the winter, to be replaced by other birds which will soon start to arrive from Tasmania.

We have new planting for Autumn! On Tuesday 12th March, Michael, our trusty horticulturalist, delivered our VegePod plants for the coming cooler season. We have an array of herbs, including basil, mint and oregano as well as fruiting chilli.

Some of spring planting still remains after the heat of the summer, the Swiss chard and a couple of angelica’s have managed to hold on. We are excited to have the beds replenished for the months to come.

Next week is Sustainability Week. The Brunswick Dye Garden will be hosting an Autumn working bee, including live composting and dye workshops, on Tuesday the 26th March. Look out for details on the RMIT Sustainability Week schedule. See you there!

– Compiled by Dr Harriette Richards, Research Assistant for the School of Fashion and Textiles

Wrap on 2018/Welcome to 2019

Happy New Year!

In this wrap, we look back at some of the many graduate and end of year shows from across the School, including in the Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours), the Masters of Fashion (Design) and the Bachelor of Fashion (Design Technology) programs.


25 October – 1 November 2018

Masters of Fashion (Design) graduating students Rutika Parag Patki, Benjamin Garg and Amanda-Agnes Nichols presented a preview of their final projects and collections at the fashion boutique Left Melbourne on Coromandel Place. The opening event included performances to express the designers’ conceptual worlds.


Replica Project pieces by Amanda Nichols

Rutika tells us why SHOP was a unique experience. “At university, we are constantly taught to have a reason behind every step we take, every decision we make. We are encouraged to ‘dig deep’ and go beyond the norm of ‘designing.’ The process almost makes fashion a form of art. Because of this, we sometimes forget that clothes actually need to sell. SHOP brought us back to this reality. The challenge, for me, was to choose/create looks that ‘spoke to’ the audience at Left. Most of my work is very different from the design that Left usually sells so I decided to make my pieces stand out from the rest of the show, making it more of a performance than just work for sale.” 

“My concept for the collection placed culture and heritage at the forefront. I was attempting what many designers have done before – trying to preserve heritage. 

Today’s world demands practicality but heritage styles and materials, like those associated with the traditional sari, don’t necessarily provide that. Therefore, in an effort to preserve these beautiful and culturally rich fabrics and garments, I created a collection that is not only powerfully contemporary but also easy to wear. The wearer feels fashionable and the garments carry the past with them. I used my grandmother’s old hand-me-down saris and coupled them with sport-inspired fabrics like mesh and scuba knit, using gold lurex ribbing to emulate the gold borders of the sari in a sportswear context. 

Re-creation of prints from the saris was one of my main goals. To do this, I printed scuba fabric with a slightly distorted print copied from the saris. I also reproduced the print through laser cutting onto tulle and sports mesh to change the identity and materiality of the textiles.” 


Shop @ LEFT, work by Rutika Patki


TRI: The Retail Initiative 2018 Exhibition

Wednesday 7 November 2018

The Retail Initiative (TRI) project gives students from the Associate Degree in Fashion and Textile Merchandising and the Cert. IV in Custom-Made Footwear a unique competition experience where they work with industry partners to gain direct insights and knowledge in the Australian retail industry. The exhibition and event on the 7th of November showcased the students’ work and celebrated the winning teams.

Image by @socialphotomelbourne

The winning team with Myer managers

Second year Fashion and Textile Merchandising student Eleftheria (Elly) Livaditis shared some of her insights.

“The TRI project gave us the opportunity to create a range for a leading industry team. Our allocated team gave us a specific market and we designed, drew and envisioned our creations based on their specifications and advice, as well as guidance given to us by our mentors and industry members during our presentations.

There was so much to do all at once (which made it extremely stressful at times!) but the project really pushed us and taught us the importance of good organisation and time management as well as the necessity for communication within the team.


During the evening, winning teams were presented by the industry members and following the presentation students and family were able to mingle with industry members and their teachers. It was a lovely and intimate way to reflect on and celebrate the year outside of the university environment.

Image by @socialphotomelbourne

Country Road team

Thanks to the amazing industry connections of RMIT I have been lucky enough to gain a retail job at Dior over the holidays. I hope that, after completing my Bachelor degree next year, I will be able to get my foot in the door at a large company, where I can work in marketing. My dream goal is to start my own online fashion business.”


Friday 9 November 2018

Final year Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours), Bachelor of Textiles (Design)(Honours) and Master of Fashion (Design) students presented their graduate portfolios and look books in the new fashion design studios on level 12, Building 8. The event included a celebratory ‘procession’ of students down Swanston Street as well as the launch of the inaugural publication Advanced Fashion Studios Papers, issue 1 ‘The Penthouse.’


Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) graduating class of 2018!

The Advanced Fashion Studios Papers included a collection of images from the shoots the students completed with fashion photographers Agnieszka Chabros and Phebe Schmidt and a poster representing the student thesis projects, mapping the collective research interests of the cohort.



Final look books on display

SHOW: Master of Fashion (Design) Graduate Showcase at MPavilion 

Thursday 15 November 2018

The MPavilion showcase was a collaborative presentation to celebrate the 2018 RMIT Master of Fashion (Design) cohort’s mastery of advanced fashion practice. Three graduating Masters students, Rutika Parag Patki, Benjamin Garg and Amanda-Agnes Nichols showed their collection in an immersive catwalk experience at the MPavilion.

RMIT Photos by Lucas Dawson Photography (96)

Work by final year Master of Fashion (Design) students (L-R): Rutika Parag Patki, Amanda-Agnes Nichols and Benjamin Garg

Rutika tells us: “The MPavilion show was the biggest event of the season for us. It had to be perfect. Most of us had never organised this kind of event before so it proved tricky to balance creating our outfits and organising everything. However, although it was hard, it taught us the art of multitasking and priorotising jobs over one another. The garment-making part proved to be much easier than getting sponsors, making call and run sheets, coordinating with talent, the stylist, the choreographer, directing the lighting designer, the music etc etc!


For Amanda, the show was reminiscent of her collaborative work as a costumier on film projects. “Everyone, from the students and external creative to the academic and MPavilion staff, was aiming for a shared creative vision and working to a very specific brief. This process called for extensive collaboration in order to present a cohesive production – just like in film and theatre.


As a Masters cohort, we were incredibly diverse in our design aesthetics and methodologies. Both Benjamin and Rutika moved from India to Melbourne to study at RMIT, whereas I moved from Sydney. Our collections reflected our respective personas and personal histories. My collection, Replica Project #1, was based on based on archival research I have done in the couture collections at the V&A, Balenciaga and Kyoto costume museums. The garments are outcomes developed from my examination of Christian Dior’s Bar suit of 1947, the first ensemble I viewed at the V&A. My intention is to carry on the Replica Project with each iteration in conversation with a different significant garment or ensemble from fashion history.

In putting the event together, we wanted to present a show that unified our different perspectives and our collective vision as design colleagues and friends. We thought that the best way to do this would be through music. Seshadri Varadarajan, a classical Indian Veena musician, composed three tracks with each track embodying a sense of each designers’ unique creative vision. For my collection, we chose a futuristic Space Odyssey 2000-inspired piece, played on the Veena, which beautifully reflected and complemented the work.  


After a year of development and then two months making the garments, it was such a great feeling to set the work free and have feedback from the invited guests and public attendees. I already felt so much support for the work from our academic community but having such positive responses from people outside our RMIT community, including stylists, magazine editors and other fashion designers, was so exciting and encouraging.”  


Photography by Lucas Dawson.

AUSFF Scholarships – RMIT won times two!

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Congratulations to Amanda Nichols and Helena Dong, who won the Australian Fashion Foundation Scholarship Awards. They were each awarded a financial grant of $20,000 USD and a six-month internship at a global fashion house in Europe or the USA.


Winners of the AUSFF Scholarship Awards, Amanda Nichols and Helena Dong with AUSFF Co-Founder Malcolm Carfrae and Influencer Mimi Elashiry at the awards ceremony in Sydney, December 19, 2018.

Photograph by Myles Kalus (c/o AUSFF).

End of Year Staff Events

Thursday 13 December 2018

Anything but Human! The School of Fashion and Textiles end of year event was held on the 13th December and saw creative spirits run (semi-)wild. There was a chicken, a batch of eggs, some coloured pencils, a cow, a fish, a banana, some emojis and even a dilemma (who won the award for ‘most philosophical’).


RMIT Christmas Party, Brunswick Edition

Friday 14 December 2018

On the afternoon of the 14th December, the rain clouds dispersed and the sun came out just in time for the Delta Society therapy dogs to arrive, along with an amazing array of food, drinks and entertainment – the perfect way to end the year before Christmas.



‘Brunswick Plant’ Garden News

December is Kangaroo-apple Season. The weather is changeable, thundery and hot. Dhuling (Goannas) are active. Fruits appear on Kangaroo-apple bushes. Bundjil (Wedge-tailed Eagles) are breeding. Days are long and nights are short.

January is Biderap Dry Season. Hot, dry weather. High temperatures and low rainfall. Female Common Brown butterflies are flying. Bowat (tussock-grass) is long and dry. The Southern Cross is high in the south at sunrise.


Kangaroo-apple fruit (Artist – Karina H McInnes; Source – Museum Victoria)

‘Usually when a storm’s coming, rain birds, black cockatoos, yellow crested, they come down from the mountains. And you can bet on it within two or three days it rains. Never fails. Two days and it rains. And they make a racket.’  – Brian Paterson, 1999

‘I don’t know why, we used to play around the tussock grass. Playing hidey. So they must have been big enough to hide around. And it was nothing to see a snake curled up inside the tussock grass.’ – Dot Peters, 1999

On Monday 19th November 2018, the Garden Committee, led by Dr Pia Interlandi, hosted the inaugural Garden Harvest. School staff came to the garden for iced peppermint tea and scones with blueberry and raspberry jam. Dani Andree and Verity Prideaux shared  some of their dye testing with us and together we harvested rainbow chard, sorrel, beetroot and red onions. Guests were given dye packages with pieces of calico and silk, instructions for dyeing and a vegetable to take home to test for themselves.


This was a beautiful way to open the garden and welcome the RMIT Brunswick community into the space. We are looking forward to an amazing 2019!

– Compiled by Harriette Richards, Research Assistant for the School of Fashion and Textiles

Sustainability and Blackspot in Fashion and Textiles at RMIT

Across the School, finishing touches are have been put on graduate collections and our students are getting ready for a well-earned rest. In the garden, blackspot and aphids have plagued the roses, but the leafy greens in the VegePods are thriving.

RMIT is committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Recently, this commitment was rewarded at the 2018 Australian Green Gown Awards, where the university won the ‘Continuous Improvement – Institutional Change’ prize. The RMIT Sustainability Committee was also highly commended in the category of ‘Outstanding Leadership Team.’ These are remarkable achievements that recognise the work of the university to embed sustainability throughout its operations in order to create impact through practice and meaningful change. Congratulations!

In light of this dedication and these awards, we wanted to find out more about the School of Fashion and Textiles programs supporting these Goals and contributing to the university’s sustainability objectives.


Textile Design

The Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design) program includes multiple approaches to sustainability. First-year Textile Practice & Theory includes a group project called Re.Constructed, which aims to introduce students to working collectively to generate a communal understanding of sustainable textile design. Second-year Digital Textile Design and the Marketplace asks students to design corporate gift items for the School of Fashion and Textiles. Part of the brief includes having each student propose an element of sustainability – whether in production, service or afterlife. Third-year students are working across a number of sustainability areas, working with natural dyes and producing handmade, emotionally-durable designs.

Third year student Lauren Stringini is producing beautiful work with botanical prints and natural dyes. She was kind enough to share some of her work with us.


Lauren Stringini – Dress and Tote Bag

Lauren has a passion for sustainable textile practices and began exploring botanical colours as a second year student working on a speculative materials project in which she collaborated with Deakin University to experiment with recycled pigments. In her third year, she has continued experimentation, working with avocado dye and developing ways to transform waste into product. In September, she presented her work at the Natural Dye Conference at RMIT.

For her final folio, Lauren has continued her exploration of floral imagery and design, producing purpose-driven work to challenge the fast fashion industry. Of her designs, she notes: “Each type of flower was chosen as a dedication to a special woman within my life. There is a focus on creating ’emotionally durable’ textiles that people will want to care for and pass on.”

Fellow third-year student Jemma Lobwein has also been exploring sustainable and slow design in wearable textiles for her final collection, Poetic Processes.

Jemma writes: “Combining traditional elements with contemporary aesthetics, Poetic Processes aims to foster relationships with textiles while addressing the need for conscious efforts in designing for fashion. Prints depict botanical impressions with large and real-sized flowers appearing on silk, linen and cotton fabrics coloured with natural dyes from madder root, avocado seed and marigold. Poetic Processes explores the crossover between crafted processes and inspiration taken from nature; the collection aims to add emotional value to each garment by cherishing the handmade.”


“In the theatre of everyday life, wardrobes seem to afford a moment of introspection- bringing out self doubt, worries about ageing, stage fright, the surfacing of repressed feelings, reviewing of secrets, reminiscence, or anticipations. … wardrobes are the space for a series of mundane repetitive activities that are not only under the sociological radar, but also under that of popular culture….”  (Skov, 2011)

Third year Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) studio YOURDROBE18 takes as its central premise the repetitive activities that take place in and around our wardrobes… choosing an outfit, getting dressed, accessorising… The studio, led by Kate Sala and Jo Cramer, asks students to consider their methods for fashion practice, particularly why, how and what they chose to create. The studio work results in the creation of an efficient, customised collection of garments enhancing student knowledge of clothing and consumption habits, whilst also providing a more diverse and holistic appreciation of the actions, relationships and social processes associated with clothing. Ultimately, YOURDROBE18 provides students with the means to create more sustainable futures for clothes.

In addition to Kate and Jo, the students were lucky enough to have guest speakers Sigrid McCarthy (ECA, Intent Journal) presenting a two-hour in-class workshop discussing “Social Processes”, “Relationships” with clothing/wardrobe, and Sandya Lang (Nudie Jeans) presenting a one-hour Skype discussing “Actions, Relationships” with clothing. They also attended a curated talk/walk through the Super 70’s Exhibition at Ripponlea Estate with Elizabeth Anya-Petrivna, Curator of the National Trust of Australia.

We asked student Georgia Zulian (who won the Fashion Futures: Sustainability award at the So, Sow, Sew event on Monday 12 November) about her experiences of the studio.

“I have always been interested in sustainable fashion, particularly through recycled materiality, so I was instantly drawn to the key concepts of this studio: physical clothing, sustainability and the ‘wardrobe’.  I was curious to embark on an investigative journey into my relationship with clothing and sustainability as well as learning more about emotionally durable design. The studio gave me the opportunity to step back from regular fashion design and production so as to better understand emotional design and my own clothing habits.

My collection came together through the process of collaging, recycling and repurposing. This process is a natural response to working with found items and existing garments, as I can preserve those pieces, whilst creating new ideas. The collection is inspired by my own wardrobe, clothing and dressing habits, so the colours, patterns and silhouettes are derived from pieces that already exist in my wardrobe. I tend to wear black, browns and navy’s – mostly dark colours – and this collection reflects that.

I am amazed at all the possibilities and opportunities there are for designers and makers to create in a sustainable way. For me, this studio taught me how important materiality is in design. I feel like I am making a difference when I am considerate of the materials I use in my work. After using emotionally durable design as a key design foundation during this studio, I have learnt that the meaning people attach to clothes is as equally important as the function of the clothes.”

Artisan in the Anthropocene

This third year Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) studio, co-led by Dr Georgia McCorkill and Shazia Bano, reflects on how artisans are influenced by and responding to issues raised by the anthropogenic age – the era of significant human impact on the earth’s ecosystems. Georgia’s creative research practice explores sustainable design strategies applicable to bespoke contexts, focusing on upcyling as well as alternative models of fashion consumption such as sharing. With Shazia, she has developed the studio to focus on the artisanal method of embellishment. Students have engaged a group of artisans in Pakistan to contemporise traditional embellishment techniques in the expression of their own design ideas.

The use of embellishment has strongly influenced the approach to dealing with the topic of the anthropocene, with most students choosing to depict environmental issues through embellishment motif. For example, student Calvin Wong drew on the approach of guest practitioner, jeweller and artist Pennie Jagiello to observe and collect both plastic and natural items from the marine environment to incorporate into embroideries. He sent items as disparate as plastic bubble wrap and shells to Pakistan to bead into his designs.

Calvin writes: “As nature conjoins to waste, it becomes a fusion of both natural and artificial object. This has led me to ask the question: ‘Will future generations be able to tell the difference between what is artificial and what is natural when they visit the beach?’ The scattering of artificial objects along the beach may become normalized in the future. I felt this was something very important to address in my embellishment design. When my first samples came back I felt confident to push the design complexity further by challenging myself and the artisans by using some uncommon materials and objects to embellish. Using found objects and materials that the artisans would be unfamiliar working with this pushed their mastery of techniques in embellishment further but also introduced the artisans to the process of upcycling.”

Other students in the class included Rayah Shapiro, an exchange student from Parsons, and Katherine Nolan.

Rayah brought together research into oceans and marine debris from another environmental science course she has been studying and expressed this through handmade swimwear. She noted: “By limiting the use of machinery and maximising the use of hand skills within this project, I am slowing down the process of a garment that is generally very plain and simple. Utilizing the artisanal methods of weaving and crochet, I am using these techniques as starting point for my future within slow fashion designs.”

Katherine has been grappling with upcycling methods of garment construction using odd-shaped remnant pieces. She sent these remnants to Pakistan to be embellished onto, incorporating handmade resin beads she created that contain small pieces of natural and artificial waste. She writes: “Moving forward, I hope to continue growing my artisanal work in re-purposing waste fabrics in the context of evening wear. I am also interesting in continuing experimentation with resin as a method of preserving plant life amongst the plastic that kills our ecosystems.”  

Master of Fashion Entrepreneurship

Throughout the two-year Master of Fashion Entrepreneurship program there is a focus on sustainable design and production. In the first semester ‘Sustainable Product Design and Development for Fashion’ studio, the project brief focussed on the RMIT Campus Store, exploring opportunities to make their product range more sustainable.

Students from this course presented to the Sustainability Committee in August, illustrating elements of the garment lifecycle with a focus on the RMIT hoodie. Key suggestions for increased sustainability included: manufacture in Australia; training of retail staff to educate customers on sustainable garment options; development of care labels to improve sustainable use of garment; promotion of end-of-life solutions. The presentation was very positively received.

In the second semester iteration of this program, students were briefed to work with RMIT Sports to develop sustainable alternatives to the current uniforms and merchandise. Student Kelly Zhu, got in touch from China to tell us a bit more about the project and its outcomes.

“The recommendations we made were based on the Product Life Cycle of RMIT Sports apparel, from conceptualisation, to final usage. I worked specifically with the “Wet Processing” and “Retail” stages. It is often difficult to incorporate sustainability into wet processing of textiles (e.g. dying and printing) because conventional wet processing tends to be the dirtiest part of the industry, generating a lot of harmful discharge and consuming abundant energy. Digital printing is much more energy efficient and does not include the same sort of toxic discharge. For this reason, one of my main recommendations was to use digital print processing instead of conventional dying and printing. However, the high cost of digital printing might be a barrier to this, even if the volume of RMIT Sport garments is small.

My main recommendation for the “Retail” stage is for the development of an apparel leasing service called “RMIT Sports Library.” Customers can rent garments from a RMIT self-service machine and directly return the used garments without cleaning. RMIT Sports can outsource the commercial laundry company and utilise the library transport resource to carry apparel. This retail service incorporates sustainability into the whole process, from transport, warehouse, labour and energy cost to student wellbeing.

This course has changed the way I think about fashion sustainability. By learning about the lifecycle of garments I now think more deeply about the sustainability of shopping and buying new clothes.”

‘Brunswick Plant’ Garden News – Arrival of the hose!

November is Buath Gurru Grass Flowering Season. The weather is warm, and it is often raining. Kangaroo Grass and is flowering. Buliyong (bats) are catching insects in flight. The Orion constellation is setting in the western sky around sunrise.

With the Chair of the Gardening Committee Dr Pia Interlandi at the helm, the Brunswick Plant is off to the an excellent start. A watering roster has been developed to see the plants through the hot months to come. The leafy green plants in the VegePods are doing particularly well, with the beetroot, rainbow chard and peppermint thriving.

The most exciting new addition is a garden hose! This has made watering much easier and the garden committee members much happier. Next up on the garden agenda is harvesting, dye experimentation – in the capable hands of Dani Andree and Verity Prideaux – and an afternoon tea event to welcome you into the space. Come to the garden for a scone and a cup of peppermint tea at 4pm on Monday 19th November to help us with the very first harvest. See you there!


Garden Committee Chair Pia Interlandi watering the VegePods in the RMIT Natural Dye Garden.


The next instalment of the Houndstooth will feature some of the final year events from across the School. Stay tuned!

– Compiled by Harriette Richards, Research Assistant for the School of Fashion and Textiles

Wrapping Melbourne Fashion Week and Kids in Fashion – Bumper Issue

Sashay down the catwalk with us as we share the extraordinary range of activities RMIT staff and students were involved in during Melbourne Fashion Week, including ‘Kids in Fashion’ during the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Then, finally, step into our garden, where the first planting is complete and we introduce the Chair of the Garden Committee.

The Sea Between Us: The Illuminated Sea, Friday 31 August 

Presented by S!X and supported by The National Trust of Australia (Victoria)

The Sea Between Us is a project between the fashion students of LabModAR at Anhembi Morumbi University in Sao Paulo Brazil and fashion students, researchers and designers from RMIT University in Melbourne.

The Illuminated Sea lights up these two worlds, it brings them together en masse across the sparkling ocean. The distance between the two spheres of water and light is where this project sits. The Sea Between Us: The Illuminated Sea takes the sea of plastic that we as consumers have created and discarded and transforms it into materials for making lace-like structures, crochet, knitting and illusive/elusive remnants of luxury. The project culminated in a three-day exhibition at the National Trust of Australia.


Fashion objects on display at the National Trust of Australia

PhD candidate Fernanda Quilici Mola graduated from Anhembi Morumbi University and was instrumental in the development of this cross-continental project. She and first year Bachelor of Textiles student Emillie Reader shared their reflections.

Originally, the project was informed by the “poetic idea of the ocean between us”, with plastic acting as a symbolic representation of current environmental issues surrounding unbridled consumerism and waste. The objective was to share skills and knowledge of craft techniques across the two continents and creative institutions. While the project was founded on a broad commitment to making a difference and increasing understandings of both the potential of plastic as a material and the negative impact of plastic on the environment”, in the process the individual makers also experienced a transformation in their thinking about waste and plastic consumption.

As Fernanda notes: “It was only in reflecting back on the project did I understand how much it had changed my attitude toward sustainability. The process of making by hand brought me into contact with plastic in a way that has fundamentally altered my relationship to the material – in terms of both use and waste.”

“Why are we producing things designed to last five minutes but making them out of materials that last forever?”

For Emillie, an environmental activist and member of ocean conservation organisation Sea Shepherd, the project was an opportunity to bring together her two main interests – craft (crochet and embroidery) and plastic – and translate them into her creative practice. Her piece for the exhibition was a woven scarf, “a meditation on the notion of choking – the choking of both the ocean and ocean animals by plastic.”

“I have been inspired to continue experimenting with material creation and reuse. Each individual has the capacity and the responsibility to make change; small actions can have huge impacts.”


Crochet fashion objects crafted from waste plastic

The project brought together and negotiated tensions; from Fernanda’s ‘dress’, which looked delicate and lace-like yet was coarse and unwearable, to the audio track, which sounded like waves upon a shore yet was in fact the sound of rustling plastic bags – the Illuminated Sea was an experimental project in which the spaces, the oceans, between were more important than the spaces apart.

Photography credit: Vince Caligiuri

Yass Queen Drag Parade, Friday 31 August

As part of Vogue Fashion Night Out, a pop-up runway at Melbourne Central showcased  the work of third year Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) students who designed unique headpieces for the Broken Heel Drag Festival. Featuring some of our favourite Queens (including Enoki Mushroom aka Sang Thai!) the event was full of fun – and sequins! Student designer Sarah Brereton shared some of her experiences with us.

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Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Textiles) student Sarah Brereton

“As a designer I usually try to define myself with what I create, so I felt a refreshing sense of liberation when designing for a drag queen with quite a particular style. Rather than stressing about trying to define myself with what we were creating, we were designing with this queen’s specific style in mind, and making a headpiece she would love to perform in and show her unique personality!”

“Because the headpieces were being made for a drag performance we weren’t limited to making it ‘ready-to-wear’. The pieces we designed could incorporate as many colours, beads, sequins and feathers as we wanted.”

“The show at Melbourne Central as part of MFW was a really unique experience where we got to see our headpieces on drag queens in action and witness the audiences’ very positive reaction. Seeing the shoppers stop by to take photos and engage with the queens was like a big pat on the back for all the hard work we’d put in!”

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Dean of the School of Fashion and Textiles, Robyn Healy with some Queens!

Urban Flâneur: Fashion Reimagines the City, Tuesday 4 September

Curated by Dr Tarryn Handcock and Dr Tassia Joannides, the Urban Flâneur exhibition highlighted relationships between fashion and flâneurie in urban memory and imagination. The live fashion event during MFW was the culmination of a collaborative research project between RMIT University and Lendlease, developed by third-year Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) students. The garments and the show itself responded to the culture and environment of Victoria Harbour, Docklands, with the show staged in the Knowledge Market.

Nikita Banney, Madeline Assi and Nadya Disa Kusumo were involved in both the studio and the final show and they reflected on their experiences for us.

Nikita says: “The most exciting part of this studio was the opportunity to go out into the world and lose yourself in your surroundings. As designers, we generally seek inspiration from artists or cultural concepts or something we may be surrounded by every day. This studio allowed for a different form of openness to inspiration; it was a process of discovery that came from our senses connecting to this new place. While this was challenging at first, as we explored our way through the Docklands we started finding things we hadn’t noticed at first.”


Window showcase in Victoria Harbour, Docklands

“My garments were inspired by a specific site in the Victoria Harbour called Captain’s Walk. During my observations there I was intrigued by its large scale yet restricted, angular architectural space filled with windows that mirror each other. Through investigating the site I discovered that the echoing reflections on the buildings extended their dimensions; this forms a type of escapism, a sense of hope within the constraining elements. I found myself focusing on the ephemeral moments contrasted with the controlled, restricted nature of the buildings. My designs are a twist on avant-garde, inspired by sci-fi and traditional corporate silhouettes and features. The key explorations of my project are capturing moments of iridescence through a spectrum effect formed by the embroidery of CD’s onto layered, translucent silk fabrications and integrating the element of control through architectonic leather moulding in a perspective illusionist pattern.”

Madeline was excited about this studio because of “the freedom we had in terms of what we could be inspired by and the direction we could take our projects. The whole experience was a lot of fun and it was so rewarding to see that our hard work celebrated in the show. It was also great to work on a collaborative project with so many people, including the team at Knowledge Market and Lendlease, as well as sound engineer students, photographers and models.

The inspiration for my collection was derived from the extremely cold, harsh weather conditions down at Captain’s Walk, with a focus on scale and materiality. The multi-use pieces, including tops, jackets, men’s pants, a skirt and accessories such as an oversized plush scarf, leg warmers and cross-body bag, were designed to reflect the idea of wrapping, covering and protecting the body against the cold harsh winds at Docklands. The pieces were also developed to encourage the use of imagination in the styling and wearing, reflecting the aim of the project as exploring ‘Fashion’s Role in Urban Memory and Imagination.’

Being involved in this project taught me so much, from how to carry out extensive research by observing a space, to furthering my technical skills in pattern making, construction and working with various fabrics and materiality, and how to organise and execute a fashion show/event.”

Nadya tells us: “This studio was so different from any others that I had done previously. In the first class, we ventured around Docklands using the ‘flaneur’ technique, which is to wander without instruction. I came across this construction site and that became my inspiration for the semester, mixing workwear/safetywear with activewear. My key design detail for the collection was reflective bias binding and reflective strips. Both of my outerwear garments are reversible because I binded all the internal parts with reflective binding. Many parts of the garment can be attached and detached, like the pockets, hem, hood, and vest. The vest can be turned into a fanny pack and so on….

The MFW salon show was such a great opportunity to put my hard work out there for people to see. A highlight of the night was definitely seeing people hype up my collection when it went past them. After the show, so many people came up to me and asked if the puffer jacket was for sale! I was so happy with people’s positive reaction.

I learned so much from this studio: how to keep on track with my timeline, dressing and dealing with models, making catalogue pages, preparing racks for a fashion show, etc etc. I am so grateful for Tarryn and Tass for such an amazing studio, I really feel like I was able to refine my aesthetic as a designer through this project.”

Copy of _Q7A0635_Photo_Tobias_Titz_

Knowledge Market, Victoria Harbour

Thank you Nikita, Madeline and Nadya for your insights, and Tobias Titz for the images of the event.

Town Hall Runway Four – Student Collections, Wednesday 5 September

This year, RMIT Masters and Honours students showcased their work on a shared stage on the Town Hall Runway, alongside the work of students from Box Hill Institute, Holmesglen Institute, Kangan Institute, The Master’s Institute for Creative Education, and Whitehouse Institute of Design. The show was a masterful demonstration of student skill and talent. We might be biased but the work of the RMIT students really shined!

The most anticipated part of the night was the announcement of the MFW 2018 Student Award winner. The five nominees (Helena Dong, Navarone Temple, Hannah Berry (RMIT), Lucy Broomhall (The Master’s Institute for Creative Education) and Nigel Vogler  (The Whitehouse Institute of Design)) were recognised for their excellence in research, innovation, construction and potential to contribute to the future growth of the industry. The Student Award is supported by the City of Melbourne, Australian Fashion Council and búl. We were thrilled that three of our remarkable students were nominated and that our very own Helena Dong took out the coveted top prize. Congratulations Helena!

Helena Dong 3

Student Award winner Helena Dong

We asked Helena and fellow Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) student Annabel Robinson for some insight into their practice and experiences of the night.

Helena tells us: “I am interested in amplifying engagement between the designer, performer, viewer and garment through methods adopted from performance practices. This project takes the form of a garment-based collection as well as an online text- and image-based game. Through an abstract narrative with multiple decisions made by the reader, the key outfit of this collection undergoes structural transformations to reflect the various story lines, ultimately resulting in 62 endings/final appearances.

It was incredible to see my work presented in that context, especially since the collection wasn’t originally designed with the intention to be shown on a runway.”

About winning the top prize, Helena notes:

“I see this award as a recognition of my work – more specifically of my efforts in the past four years. It is a huge honour, and it encourages me to continue honing my practice in an interdisciplinary field. The entire evening felt surreal!”  

For Annabel: “It was really amazing seeing my work on the catwalk. It finally felt like I had actually made a collection (or half of one!). I had never been involved in fittings or logistics backstage, so it was really good to get an understanding of how that all worked.

The whole experience also got me excited about my clothes again. I was getting pretty sick of them, but seeing them on the catwalk made me see them in a different light. It was also helpful having to think about the looks as a whole, and think about the accessories – the bags, shoes and jewellery – because it really made the collection come together, and gave me ideas for styling my shoots for the publication.

The real highlight was seeing people react to my collection! A lot of people laughed at the Harry Potter t-shirts and the McDonalds handbag. That was great because I wanted it to be funny, and not taken too seriously.”

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Design by Anna Petry

Thank you Helena and Annabel for sharing your beautiful work and your experiences with us and Lucas Dawson for the photographs.

Kids in Fashion: London, Paris, Rome. The City of Stonnington. Saturday 15 September

Fashion challenges who we are and who we want to be. Our clothes are generally designed and made by couturiers, ateliers or factories – but for the second year Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) studio Kids in Fashion (lead by Dr Adele Varcoe), the pencils were handed over to a very different set of designers: kids.

Using the intellect, creativity and ingenuity of children’s imaginations, Kids in Fashion saw children become fashion designers. Local makers, including design students in this studio, turned their ideas into reality. The Kids in Fashion show was a celebratory live artwork/social intervention, where artistic empowerment was put in the hands of young people, helping them realise their own vision for the future of fashion.

Supported by the City of Stonnington, the Australia Council for the Arts and the School of Fashion and Textiles, RMIT University, the live show was featured in the Melbourne Fringe Festival and received enthusiastic responses from all involved.

Speaking to the students from the Kids in Fashion studio following the show, they told me about the joys and challenges involved in producing garments from kids’ drawings. While this is a more difficult process, it also resulted in exciting outcomes. Having to consider the drawing as the only point of reference meant having to step away from the safe familiarity of working with fabric. The unusual drawings encouraged the makers to consider alternative materials to realise the imaginings of the children. The results reflected both the imaginations of the young designers and the great skill of the student and alumni makers.

Weird and wonderful designs – a giant pair of hands, a dress “covered in live babies,” a cat dress and a series of tiny jeans and tees – came to life in often unexpected ways. Coming to terms with the ways things moved and changed in the process of making was a central component of the experiment.

While working with the kids was sometimes tricky, it was all worth it to see their happiness when they saw their drawings in real life, parading down the catwalk. Their faces lit up. The whole audience was in a good mood as the show was really fun. The kids were so excited and involved that you couldn’t help but be as happy as them.

The kids proved themselves to not only be inventive fashion designers and adept show hosts but also inspiring theorists. As young Chelsea put is: “Fashion is your own passion and no one can tell you what to wear.” If that’s not an appealing vision for the future of fashion, I don’t know what is.

Thank you to Agnieszka Chabros for the brilliant photographs of these pieces.

‘Brunswick Plant’ News

We are still in Poorneet/Tadpole Season. Pied Currawongs call loudly and often. Days and nights are of equal length. The rains are easing and the temperatures continue to rise.

Plants are in at the Brunswick Plant! The beds have been filled. In our VegePods, we have beetroot and angelica, red sorrel and peppermint. In the wooden planters are blueberries, dahlias and anthemis. We have a hedge of eucalypt, another of pomegranate trees and climbing raspberries. Under the established trees there is chamomile, lavender, roses and hollyhock. These plants have been chosen for their use as dyes – as natural colourants for use in textile studios and experimental labs.

We are very pleased to announce that Dr Pia Interlandi has been appointed Chair of the Garden Committee. Pia is developing a number of garden events for the coming months and we are very much looking forward to sharing them with you.

Our next issue focuses on sustainability and projects across the School making great advances in this area.

– Compiled by Harriette Richards, Research Assistant for the School of Fashion and Textiles