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 harriette.richards@rmit.edu.au.


– 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 harriette.richards@rmit.edu.au.


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