Following Covid-19 and the ongoing disruptive effects of the pandemic upon global supply chains, the demand from Australian brands to craft their clothing and weave textiles in Australia again is on the rise.
For the local manufacturers in Melbourne that survived the offshoring of garment production that began in the 1970s, this not only showcased their highly technical and craftsmanship skills from pattern making and tailoring to screen printing, dyeing and knitting, but also the benefit of manufacturing locally, namely the reduction in freight cost and time, that in turn reduces environmental impact.
This is how our documentary series ‘Make it Melbourne’ came to fruition. Supported by Creative Victoria, the three part series highlights Victorian based brands and the many hands that contribute to crafting Australian Made garments ending up in stores and wardrobes all over the country and the world.
The stories told in Make it Melbourne showcase that unique skills and fine crafts are not lost, but also brought to light the challenges facing these makers, including a crippling skills shortage that is preventing manufacturers from meeting the current demand from brands. The series starts a conversation between brands and makers on potential solutions to ensure we are nurturing a local manufacturing industry that not only supports the makers that have been working for decades, but the younger generation that will carry the legacy of Australian made.
If you’re a brand, search the AFC Directory to find suppliers and manufacturers, or if you’re a manufacturer, make sure that you create a brand listing here in Australia’s largest fashion and textiles database.
A special thank you to Kate Dillon of She Lion for being the inspiration for this video series and supporting the AFC and the industry above and beyond.
Viktoria & Woods and Kangan Institute share a long term partnership that began when Margie Woods thought outside the box and asked if the education facility could potentially manufacture her fully fashioned knitwear designs. Fast forward 10 years and Kangan Institute produces the brand’s entire range of fully fashioned knitwear, with V&W supporting the school by purchasing an additional knitting machine to increase capacity.
Sample Room is a development and small scale manufacturing studio in the heart of the old garment district in Collingwood. Julia shares her wealth of knowledge of local manufacturing to support emerging designers, including First Nations brand Ihraa Swim. Reflecting on the benefits of local manufacturing, including clearer communication and at times even improved costs, Sample Room is struggling to find machinists to keep up with the increase in local demand. One possible solution is to highlight the craftsmanship that goes into the making of a garment to show interested students that it is a rewarding career pathway.
Kate from She Lion is a force to be reckoned with. In the middle of the pandemic and without having made a single sweatshirt before, Kate set out to establish an entirely Australian supply chain - from care labels to fabric. Her story is interwoven with the fond friendships she has formed with her makers, and Kate is passionate about supporting these businesses through her ‘Support Local’ jumper range. Kate believes the future of local manufacturing relies on addressing the lack of apprenticeships currently available in the textile and clothing industry.
Viktoria & Woods X Kangan Institute
Sample Room X Ihraa Swim & Kerrin
About Creative Victoria:
Creative Victoria is the state government body dedicated to championing, growing and supporting Victoria's creative industries. They invest in the ideas, talent, organisations, events and projects that make Victoria a creative state.
“There should be greater awareness, I think there’s a big piece around the fact that when you talk about apprenticeships people reel off electrician, plumber, carpenter, but they don’t mention cutter, seamstress, knitting mill person, screen printer, industrial wash house, pattern making…there’s a huge list!”
- Kate Dillion, Founder of She Lion Bags