Designers and original makers are dying out. We are going extinct and being replaced with big machinery and cheap overseas labour. Not only that whenever we make something that is authentic it is copied. That I don’t mind. I just want to let people know that working with our hands and a sewing machine is an art form and the fact that you meet someone who can sketch an image, draw their own pattern, cut and sew from start to finish is rare nowadays and I’m amongst the youngest in this field in Australia that can make anything from the beginning.
When you look at a dress in a retail store that costs $350 it has went through so many hands for each piece and the fabric sourced all over the world but made in less than an hour. When an authentic creative makes you something for $350 +++ it would of taken many more hours or days to produce. The sewing of retail clothing is hardly done in Australia nowadays and is mostly done in India, Bali, China, Phillipines, Turkey etc where the dollar is cheaper. I don’t mind that but do not compare an authentic designer or creative who makes one off designs or capsule collections to the mass produced market or to something you buy from the retail store.
For 19 + years I have been slowly learning my craft. Just bits a pieces here and there picking up every piece of knowledge that I can from people, from books and just generally learning as much as I can of anything at all that I can apply to my field. It is my obsession and my dream. I am young to be running my own business as a Designer Dressmaker but I created my job because I saw a need in the market. Plus until I started calling myself The Designer Dressmaker nobody else had put those words together. The decline of dressmaking and especially dressmakers that make their own patterns is obvious in Australia adding further value to what is left. We are a dime a dozen. Help contribute to Australian dressmakers or local dressmakers if you aren’t Australian because otherwise we may just die out and who shall you buy an authentic designer dress from.
Making an entrance onto the Australian Fashion arena late in 2016 we have CRBN with lead designer Whitney Duan. The label is so different to regular Australian fashion labels. Which is what makes it so very interesting.
They are here to change the rules on gender.
So you are curious? How can CRBN change the rules on gender?
Well with time staking . Men are wearing skirts. Women are wearing the pants and actually whatever they want. I mean why as a female should I wear a dress? I want to wear a skort today and I don’t care!
I want to see men in dresses not just because free balling is comfortable but why not? The only thing that has been holding back men from wearing dresses is that dresses aren’t made to fit the male form by the consumer market. Hence why CRBN is a game changer. Men can choose to wear what they want from their range. The fact physically it is a dress or a skirt is just a label and a social image that has been underpinned by oppressive social expectations handed down through generations . Its just a name we gave it to identify what it is but would it be so bad if we named a pant a skirt and a skirt a pant. In the end its the same fabric with the same stitches, the same cotton that holds it together. Just like the difference in gender. Gender is just a label male, female and most recently we have added in no gender which btw is still a label. All these names and boundaries we create ourselves as humans.
‘We have so many people wanting to dress and expand their new style from mundane commercialism. Plus with drag queens now tapping into the mainstream industry with Ru Paul’s drag race/ we have an untouched market’
Melbourne Designer & Stylist
Whitney’s background is in Philosophy and Art History so her perception of gender is quite in tune with a general move by society to become less gender specific. We are after all a society who wants whatever we want when we want it. Socially we just want to be able to wear what we want without the backlash of social expectations. In fashion ‘different’ is the new ‘cool’. So as unisex clothing gains momentum and is starting to be seen as the new cool there are so many self styled innovators who are picking up the product and trying it. CRBN is a blend between fitted and baggy streetwear with styles you could wear everyday casually or dress up to go out and party in with an emphasis on comfort. Now that we already have so many people out there who are innovators gaining awareness of the product and trying samples of unisex clothing in their day to day lives. Its time for early adopters like you and I to support unisex clothing and pick up the trend and deliver it to the growth stage and mass market before unisex is totally accepted and adopted into our society. So I ask you. Can you challenge your own thinking that you have been taught from birth? Can you try something different to see how it fits and feels? If your not excited by now to break the rules and kick back the boundaries of social expectation then I’m probably howling to the moon.
While working alongside CRBN as one of a select group of consultant pattern makers I sat in on quite a few late night fittings and meetings behind the end product. In collaboration of their first range I found Whitney and her partner radio spokesperson and author Eden Duan to be quite unique individuals in fact their strong bond and communication was the back bone of getting things moving at the rate that such a large collection could be developed. Developing a range this large requires so much time and effort away from regular day to day existence and as a power couple they worked together to make CRBN from just an idea to something tangible something that any designer could be proud of. Whitney Duan designer of CRBN is the new kid on the block. I am loving her cool style and needed to share it. She actually gets how contemporary humans are feeling. Lets just erase some of the labels and start again. Fashion is now geometric lines, contemporary, rule breaking, minimalistic, unisex clothing.
Ok I’ve said it before many times. A quilter is not a dressmaker. But a dressmaker is 100% the person you go to after having your wedding dress stuffed up by the quilter.
So you know she’s a friend and she can sew but can you trust her to sew your wedding dress?
Well according to myself not unless she has knowledge of pattern making, fitting and fabrics.
It is very different sewing straight lines and showing you can appliqué a few stray cats on a cushion to hand sewing beads and lace to dresses
Fitting the dress to the human form adds a whole other dimension. You have to know how much to fit the dress so it’s not too tight and it’s not too loose. You have to know how to alter the pattern so you can change the style to suit the bride. You also have to help the bride choose the right style steering them away from bad taste moments. Remember that dress you really liked on the hanger but the style just didn’t sit right and looked horrible.
Sewing a wedding dress is much harder than the average sewers sewing level. If you are a quilter and have succeeded in making a wedding dress well done but I bet you will never attempt another one unless your a glutton for punishment.
The nicest wedding dresses are designed especially to suit the bride and made with the highest quality fabrics and needlework. They should have a mixture of hand and machine sewing and fit just right with the right style to suit the body shape.
Here we have a size 10 Gold Party Dress with panelled bodice and gathered skirt ***AWesome****.
Made with Metallic fabric that is so shiny!!!!!You will be the blingiest sparkliest and prettiest girl at every party with this Secret Culture original. It is fitted to a standard size 10 so will only fit a girl that is a perfect 10.If you are larger or smaller you will have to be fitted by a dressmaker to ensure that the dress maintains that perfect figure hugging silhouette.With the bust if you are smaller or larger you can always wear sticky cups to make your bust size increase to fit.If your hips are larger this won’t make a huge difference as the skirt is gathered and so will flare out around you.
Here we have a short and seductive size small emerald green slip suitable for sleeping in and wearing around the house.The satin fabric is soft and silky making it feel lovely on your skin.There are two lace bows embellishing the front emphasising your femininity and just making you look so cute as well.
Buy now $24.95
On Ebay: http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=200876958567#ht_500wt_1203
On Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/120010150/emerald-green-satin-night-dress-or-slip
This is what I designed for day 4 of my 50 designs in 50 days challenge:
Here we have a lovely pink floral dress that has an elasticated waist. I have added a bright pink vintage satin belt at the waist to accentuate your womanly figure. It has a very pretty feminine floral pattern. It is made with a crepe fabric that has a very slight sheerness about it. Although not sheer enough to reveal your underwear. This is suitable for wearing to the beach or around the house. The qualities of the fabric make it very comfortable.
The sun dress has been sewn in rasant thread which is very good quality and will ensure the longevity of your garment.
The elasticated waist of the garment combined with the wide neck and raglan sleeve means it is suitable for any size from a 14 to an 18 and the waist belt should be tied to suit your personal fit
This is what I designed for day 3 of my 50 designs in 50 days challenge:
Here we have a lovely floralSun dress/Kaftan that is belted at the waist to accentuate your womanly curves. It has a very pretty feminine floral pattern. It is made with a light weight sheer Cotton fabric that is suitable for wearing to the beach or around the house. The qualities of the fabric make it very comfortable.
The sun dress has been sewn in rasant thread which is very good quality and will ensure the longevity of your garment.
The size of the garment means it is suitable for any size up to a 14 and the waist belt should be tied to suit your personal fit.
This is a One Off and is made in Vintage fabric. The design will not be mass produced in this fabric in the future as there are limited amounts of this fabric available…..and I have already planned to make a dress with what I have left over.
For a bit of fun and to help me get motivated in designing again on a competitive level and also to fill my design store on ETSY and EBAY with Secret Culture Designer dresses and so fourth I have come up with the idea 50 designs in 50 days. Each day I will design a one off garment or outfit pattern made and entirely sewn by myself. Each piece I will then blog about and also I will upload a photograph of the finished garment on a mannequin or model and link it to my ETSY and EBAY store so that you can especially buy the piece that you are interested in. Sooooooooooooo excited that I have the designer bug already so lets call this day one shall we:)I will be back!!!!!!
I hate the fact that fashion exists-The endless waste created by mass production and especially the outsourcing to countries with lower regulatory standards but that doesn’t stop me studying the course.To me the name Fashion is just a name and a way to discover things that I couldn’t learn from my mother who has worked in the industry in factories when they existed in Australia.They are still here but I think it is unlikely you might only be paid 50 cents for a shirt-maker dress nowadays in Australia although you never know.I mean I worked for Suboo a supposed high fashion swimwear label as an intern for nothing(clothes were really made with poor quality control and sold for ridiculous prices).Intern is the equivalent of slave labour with a pretty name.Fashion is the only comprehensive course related to designing your own clothes around.I actually had the argument yesterday with some friends studying the advanced diploma in fashion design.They justified the fact that they could outsource to other countries because of the cheap exchange rates because they have been told that people are paid reasonably in comparison to the country they live in and those people have reasonable conditions in comparison to the country they live in.I gave them a case study to look at.The link for the video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmZkkYxHaaM&feature=plcp&list=PLA5D40D9AC0E2CF5B which didn’t change their mind and rather made them outraged.The truth is to be a Fashion Designer as I have been trained to be you have to decide between your own moral judgement or justify your actions.With cheap imports and so many other designers and large corporations you hit a major moral dilemma.To mass produce or not to mass produce. To outsource to another country or to have your product made here.I personally am in a situation where I could easily import from India a mass produced product allowing me to break into the market and reach my target market successfully. To become successful in my industry that is what you do to get to the top.I personally would like to mass produce and outsource to another country in the future.The way I go about it I am hoping will be different to other designers.I could not live with myself if I allowed myself to just call a factory overseas or email them and then get my products made.I want to own the factory and pay the workers straight into their bank account.I want to ensure my workers are protected from abuse and mistreatment.Have appropriate baby minding facilities in the factory.A school education supplied and scholarships for further study for the children of the women who work in the factory.Appropriate living arrangements that are not just conditioned on what is appropriate to that country.Whole family health facilities. Training programs and wages that are better than reasonable.The management who run the factory while I am not in India will be continuously tested to ensure that there is no corruption and that standards are maintained.That is just one of my ideas on how to change the world in fashion.It makes me so sad to see videos of people that have worked and lived in such terrible conditions.My father and brother recently went to China and wanted to buy jackets because they were so cold (one for my mother was a dolce and gabbana jacket which I am pretty sure is not counterfeit).My father and brother were amused to see Chinese factory workers living in the boxes with the fur jackets that they have made to send overseas to us.These people are forced to live in boxes so that we can wear that new faux fur jacket.I could never live with myself but so many designers do. They are taught that certain standards are in place and certain Government regulations because if they weren’t taught this these large companies and the whole Fashion industry would have to reassess and rethink how things are done.The fact is the regulations are there but the factories and management are the people who decide what standards are adhered to.That is why I have already started thinking because one day people are going to have to stop ignoring the harm the fashion industry is causing. Not just to countries with the ability to supply poor labour but also to the environment everywhere. I do not know the actual percentage of which landfill is textiles, clothing and footwear and we can’t forget related products such as beds and lounges which are all made from textile fibres.Our society might be finding innovations in relation to fashion but are companies actually using these innovations or age old techniques to save wastage of water and fibres.Do the people in the companies care what happens to the lives of the people who work for them in that other country so long as the garments are delivered on time to reach the catwalk and the market.I could talk for hours on this topic but the truth is this is something that effects printmaking aswell. The fashion industry uses the techniques of printmaking so commonly and in such repetition that having your work printed overseas by a machine or a small child is something not unheard of.Ofcourse with printmaking there are quite reasonable businesses in Sydney and around Australia that will print your design on a shirt. For the larger companies they would still rather send it straight overseas to cut costs. Look at Bonds factory for example. They packed up and moved out of Sydney around 5 years ago overseas.I was lucky enough to walk through twice in high school and it was an eye opener.Even in Australia the standard of that factory was poor.There were gigantic cracks in the floor. Rat baits everywhere. It was cold and wet in some rooms and then almost dusty in the spinning rooms and knitting rooms.In the main designer offices where products are sold it was lovely and clean which has sort of stuck with me. I guess it is the personal note of seeing how factories actually work and knowing my mother worked in many in her time that made it hit home. Designers and management in large companies and even small business have the chance to change the way workers at the bottom of the fashion tree are treated.I will leave you with a video of an exceptional factory to think about..
Link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxGLdTARCMk&list=PLA5D40D9AC0E2CF5B&feature=mh_lolz
This amused me because all the women seem to be wearing their best saris and the floor is spotless. This is the clean image that designers imagine when they are purchasing via email or phone.If you actually went to the factory would it look like this?Would these people be getting paid right?
Have a look at this website if your interested in womens rights http://www.dfid.gov.uk/What-we-do/Key-Issues/Economic-growth-and-the-private-sector/Women-and-business/