Wrap on Swatch of Luxury and RMIT Fashion Careers Forum

As hail falls on Semester 2 it’s time to escape from the chilly weather and warm up by reading about some recent Fashion and Textiles initiatives, you might have missed, including an international exhibition co-faciliated by two of our School members and the great July Careers Forum attended by many of our Fashion students. We also introduce you to a new segment of the Houndstooth called the ‘Brunswick Plant’!


Swatch of Luxury exhibition (at the ‘State of Fashion: Searching for the New LuxuryFashion Colloquium, Arnhem, Netherlands, 31 May – 1 June, 2018)

Swatch of Luxury: Artefacts of Mass Production was a collaborative creative practice exhibition developed by Dr Ricarda Bigolin and Chantal McDonald from RMIT School of Fashion & Textiles and Professor Clemens Thornquist and Anna Lidstrom from the Swedish School of Textiles, University of Borås. The exhibition was on display during the State of Fashion colloquium in the Netherlands at the end of May.

The initial phase of the project invited designers, researchers, PhD, Masters, and Honours students from the two locations to submit swatches which responded to the question: what is luxury fashion? Participants were asked to produce their version of a ‘swatch of luxury,’ which reworked in some way materials, objects and media that are mass produced. The accepted swatches were exhibited as a curated combination of ‘actual fabric sample/swatches’ and ‘digital photographic swatches.’ The swatches acted as provocations to open up conversations about perceptions of luxury.

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Swatch of Luxury exhibition featured contributors Anna Lidstrom, Ricarda Bigolin, Chantal McDonald, Denise Sprynskyj and Peter Boyd – S!X, Rosanna Li, Remie Cibis, Laura Gardner, Kate Sala, Lisa Carrol, Elisa Keeler and Jane Morley

“…something is beautiful and something is a luxury on the basis of its mental effect on people… A luxury is a phenomenon in the specifically phenomenological sense of the word: a something that is for someone.” (L. Wiesing 2015)

The discourse about luxury from designers, researchers and students is incredibly diverse. Contemporary design languages mock, imitate, distort and substitute ideals and experiences of luxury. This approach is evolving rapidly in response to contemporary image-driven appetites. The curators of this project were curious to find out about the different ways practitioners position themselves within the paradigm of luxury fashion. It is no longer possible to be unaware of the socio-political consequences fashion production has on the world. Thus, questions of luxury and fashion design are serious and important dynamics to consider in the present moment.  

“You can ask a jeweller to examine a necklace to see whether it is made of genuine gold — but not to see whether it is genuine luxury.” (L. Wiesing 2015)

This project looked for propositions that define the complexities of luxury fashion. It was also interested in submissions that represented the future scope of fashion design practice. The curators hope to continue this project as a method through which to understand what luxury means to current and emerging designers and to engage with luxury as a social, cultural and phenomenological construct.


Brunswick Fashion Careers Forum, July 2018

On July 26, the Brunswick campus hosted a Fashion Careers Forum, a day of fashion industry careers advice, insights and Q&As with multinational retailers, local entrepreneurs and social media innovators.

Second year Fashion and Textiles Merchandising students Mathilda Vermeesch and Alexandra Livis attended all three sessions (Social Media; Small Business, Sustainability & Ethical Practice; and Landing your first job in the fashion industry) and shared their experiences of the day.

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Social Media Panel featuring Kokaine, Sneaker Laundry and blogger Lady Melbourne

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Small Business, Sustainability and Ethical Practices in Fashion Panel featuring Lois Hazel and RMIT Activator

For Mathilda, the highlight of the day was hearing about the “challenges and successes faced by the businesses at the small business, sustainability and ethical practices panel as sustainability is an important topic in all of our classes and it was wonderful to see three businesses succeeding in and developing that field.” 

For Alexandra, the most beneficial part of the day was “hearing from people who did the same course as me. It showed that the jobs they have are achievable through doing my course. I really enjoyed hearing from Nick (from Homie) because I had just recently discovered that brand and really admire what they are doing. It was really interesting to hear about the impact the brand is creating in more detail.”

Both Mathilda and Alexandra learnt a lot about what it takes to make it in the fashion industry, particularly the importance of a strong social media profile and the building of meaningful relationships with peers and mentors.

Mathilda said that “it was helpful to hear that showing your enthusiasm for a prospective job can get you far. The employment panellists told us that a recent graduate with not a lot of industry experience can land the job if they show their enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

The panellists emphasised the importance of building strong lasting relationships with those in the industry, pointing out that the Australian fashion industry is small, and that these relationships can help you further your studies and/or career.

The panellists also encouraged us to engage with industry members and to put ourselves out there when applying for jobs – that it can never hurt to ask and send someone your resume and portfolio. It was encouraging to hear that you must simply do the hard slog of cold emailing and the like to get your foot in the door.”

Alexandra agreed that to be successful in this industry you need to put yourself out there. You always need to try, despite being anxious about the outcome. 

Hearing from people in the industry encouraged me to start thinking more about my career for when I finish university. Listening to the small business owners talk with such passion about their companies was inspiring and made me excited about my future.”

Thank you Mathilda and Alexandra for sharing your positive experiences of the day!


The Brunswick Plant

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Winter flowering gums on campus

The ‘Brunswick Plant’ is coming!

As the months get warmer we will be cultivating new garden beds at the Brunswick campus. Watch this space for information about planting and upcoming working bees.

We look forward to everyone participating in the Brunswick Plant.

Stay tuned for the next instalment of the Houndstooth when we wrap Open Day and go behind the scenes to meet some of our colleagues!

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