As part of the Student Fashion exhibition at The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Ragtrader spoke to student designer Meredith Bullen on her experiences.
What opportunities does this exhibit provide you as student designers?
As a student designer the Powerhouse Exhibition offers us another experience within the fashion industry. It allows us to showcase our work across another platform, and for our designs to be seen within the art world as well as the fashion industry. It also enables us to give some background into our collection, the process box supports the finished garments, which allows visitors to see the development and the different stages of the design process.
How did you approach developing the designs and final works?
My design process centres heavily on collaging, sampling, flat pattern making and hand constructed textiles. With my grad collection, I started with in depth research into the Australian landscape, the historical aspects of the early settler, photography and drawing. I then collaged and sketched out ideas, whilst creating sample after sample of my textiles. This then moves to the three-dimensional form through pattern making and fitting, working out textile placement and fabrication whilst perfecting fit. Once everything comes together, I collage the final garment using pieces of the fabrication to fully comprehend my design before I begin the construction of the final garments.
What have been some of the challenges throughout the process?
I would say one of the biggest challenges throughout my process would be the development of my textiles and the ways in which the weave pieces interacted on the body. All of the weave pieces within my collection were woven by myself, by hand. I spent months experimenting and developing different techniques to create the texture and density I was envisioning. Due to this density the weave pieces were quite heavy, so it was a huge challenge to create patterns and garments that could support the weight of the weaves whilst still holding their own shape. This does mean all my garments within the collection are extremely heavy!
What have you taken away from this experience? What have you learnt?
Time management is key. During my honours year I was very conscious of time, considering my weave process is extremely time heavy, if something wasn’t working I would move on to something else and come back to the other thing later. 9 times out of 10 when I came back to something I would achieve the result I was after!
Have you had any professional experience in the industry?
Whilst I was completing my honours year at UTS, Sydney I have been interning with Pfeiffer. It is invaluable to obtain experience in the industry whilst you are still studying. I have learnt a lot with the brand. What this has reinforced is how important spec sheets, sampling and an attention to detail is when working with cutters, makers and other industry professionals. Everyone has their own way of working and keeping everything clear and easily understandable helps to minimise any fall outs. Also, that in the small business game it is a lot of hard work!
What do you see as the biggest challenges affecting the industry?
The biggest changes affecting the industry is coping with the competition of offshore textile suppliers and manufacturing abroad in countries that offer low labour costs and overheads. Also I feel the consumer’s constantly want for more from the fashion industry. Music artists often only release an album every few years, whilst fashion houses are expected to produce new collections constantly. The pace of the industry is only increasing and I hope as a fresh graduate I can keep up, continue to be inspired and to inspire.
Where do you see further opportunities?
More sustainable and ethical practices across all areas of the industry.
What's next for you?
More designing, more weaving and more challenging myself as a designer.