Featuring collections by students from Box Hill Institute, Holmesglen Institute, Kangan Institute, RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles and Whitehouse Institute of Design Australia, the Melbourne Fashion Week (M/FW) Student Collections Runway aims to bring together the city’s top fashion schools to showcase the next big names in Australian fashion design.
The AFC was fortunate enough to attend the presentation as well as be on the judging panel to choose the top five finalists and winner.
We spoke to the 2022 winner Amy Cottrell, student from Whitehouse Institute of Design who’s focus on innovative fabrics, sustainability and unique design process reflects the exciting space fashion and design students are bringing to the future of our industry.
Q1. Tell us about the concept behind your collection and how you came to use biodegradable/edible bioplastic?
Plasticity explores our relationship with the man-made substance that was once strongly associated with progress and is now held responsible for major environmental damage. In nature, plasticity describes how organisms have the ability to adapt, changing their form and function, to fit into a harsh and challenging world. This collection reflects on the idea that while manmade development and progress is exciting, it comes at a cost and is creating overwhelming challenges, particularly in the form of climate change. It is essential that we learn to adjust to new conditions in order to survive and the way we use plastics also needs to adapt and change as we move forwards.
In creating this collection I spent a great deal researching to find products that could replace plastic and be harmless to the environment and came across some recipes for bioplastic. I then did extensive experimentation using different recipes to see if any would be suitable to make garments and found bioplastics that could be used in interesting ways.
Q2. Can you break down the process of creating the bioplastic and paper pieces for your collection?
The bioplastic is made in a pot on the stove using water, gelatine and glycerin with natural dyes added to create different colours. It is then poured onto a flat surface to create sheets that can be cut and sewn or poured into a mould to create rigid shapes like petals. It takes about a week to dry before I can start working with it.
The ‘paper mache technique’ started with the idea that fabric can be stiffened by soaking it in watered down non toxic glue and letting it dry. I expanded this concept by using strips of silk soaked in non toxic glue and layered to make a moulded bodice, which was shaped over a mannequin and left to dry.
Q3. As a student entering the fashion industry, can you tell why sustainability is so important to you and what excites you about the future of innovation in design?
Growing up in a fourth-generation horticultural family on the Murray River near Mildura has provided me with a strong understanding of the importance of sustainability. Our family business is reliant on a healthy river system and the weather and droughts and floods really negatively impact our crops. The motivation to find innovative ways to clean up the Australian fashion industry, and assist in improving the environmental issues we face is very personal for me. I strongly believe that ‘sustainable’ does not mean compromise in terms of quality or aesthetics and believe that sustainability should form the basis for all design. Innovation helps us to discover new cleaner ways of doing things and offers opportunities for discovering exciting new frontiers within the fashion industry.
Connect with Amy
With special thanks to Melbourne Fashion Week.