Undress Runways 2016 - #FutureGoals
Erryn Ayres | On 04, Nov 2016
Upon entering, Undress 2016‘s objective was instantly recognisable; to represent fashion at its most forward.
In the time leading up to the parades’ start, guests had the opportunity to navigate drones, sign up to sponsor a child, sit in the driver’s seat of a top-of-the-line Tesla, and experience moments of virtual reality. And all whilst sipping Hither & Yon’s sustainable wine and checking the evening’s running order and designer BIO’s on the official app! The ambitious prelude allowed clear insight to the headspace of the team. Their gaze was to the future, and the expanding forms ushering us into next-wave fashion, without forgoing humanity. Themes featuring strongly included compassion, adaptation, accountability, transparency and technology. Buzz words, yes, but Undress undoubtedly practice what they preach. “Diversity, equality, respect, and sustainable & smart textiles” reiterated co-founder Edda Hamner as she addressed the crowd. From the designers and models cast, their focus hinged on adding positively to a global industry that’s lost its way. The event, a celebration of cut-cloth with a point of difference makes it just a little slicker and emotionally engaging than your average ‘Fashun’ Parade.
There’s no need to explain sustainable fashion to you; if you’re reading this, you’re already ethically inquisitive, aware, or active. You demand more from your clothing outlets, and acknowledge every hand involved, from the inception to completion of your garment, deserve to be rightly paid for their time and expertise. In short, you try hard to achieve a certain level of consumer consciousness, and exercise your rights, whilst supporting the rights of others, when investing your purchasing power. Fast Fashion is a global environmental and ethical issue. With 80% of garment workers employed being women or girls, in low paid factory jobs, comprising of long hours, appalling (at-times unsafe) conditions, some working illegally, or enslaved against their free-will. With this knowledge compounded, this also makes flimsy fast fashion a feminist issue.
The Fast Fashion cycle gives us, the Western World, overwhelming options to consume disposable, unethically made (often simplified versions of high end designer originals, at too-good-to-be-true prices) items from developing nations. The pattern is a direct enabler to the thoughtless, unquestioning, materialism ‘more-is-more-shop-till-you-drop,’ consumerism culture obsession, which the past 4 decades has spectacularly perpetuated. The BBC recently published news of Syrian refugees employed in Turkey, creating garments for well known chains such as ZARA and Mango, some as young as 15 years of age, working 12 hours a day at a pound (AUD$1.59) an hour. Even if, as these massive rag-trade corporations claim, these illegal processes are not condoned by them, they must accept fault and acknowledge a flawed system they have encouraged for financial gain. With an underbelly of outworkers and middlemen leaned on to make up the numbers in a factory order, continuing to drive quote costs lower and RRP prices down. Surely exploiting the worlds desperate and vulnerable citizens, to meet the perceived high turn-over ‘demand’ of non critically essential ready to wear items should not be acceptable situation.
The Undress team launched 6 years ago to share their knowledge and discoveries, in the hope to influence and inspire, allowing insight to the true cost of buying so cheaply and so fast, and offering the refreshing alternatives afforded to us. The recent annual parade had a fresh look, in a bigger space, and a clean fluid aesthetic. The vision and overall vibe was greatly assisted by the original audio content, projected on to 300sqm hand-stitched organic cotton, no less, as the models traversed the space. The Undress team did the research and running around, then sent it down the runway for our viewing pleasure. The edit totalled 32 local and international designers that fit the directional brief, Included below are the brands that shone, what makes them unique, and why they staked their claim at Undress 16.
HAN Studios’ models stepped forth with confidence and sass. There was undeniable strength in individual pieces, but once layered, told a bold cohesive story. Sheen trench coats belted over boxy shift dresses, 2-piece ensembles based on angular, unexpected style-lines, all topped and tailed with black caps and white kicks. “Buy Less, Buy Better,” is their creed, with strong capsule collections like HAN studios, that’s incredibly easy.
“The Rejection of Perfection” is Celeste Tesoriero’s ethos, and her ready to wear updated classic shapes keep it real. There’s an intuitive feminine feel; flattering, floaty fit, with just the right amount of skin emerging from sexy silk slips. So NOW.
Madilta Janosi tackles “Eco Luxury” with her handmade TildArt designs, straight outta her East London studio. Strategic tassels on the bust or an exaggerated open back creates playful movement. Recycled bicycle tubes combine with wool, and eyelets riveting into collars. A little evocative of provocateurs Westwood / McLaren.
Moreno Marcos proved once again how her designs dazzle on the Undress stage. One-off pieces floated by and perfectly pitched her point of difference. The kinds of garments so well-crafted, they increase in value with each wear. Bold and kooky, the angular styling of the 80’s, juxtaposed against full bloom, hand painted floral emblems on silk dupion.
Black Mob’s a tough unisex street-style brand, not because ‘sports luxe’ is still lingering like the stench from a sweaty sock, but genuinely bringing the attitude to tackle any city street, and make the wider community take notice. Equality, gender, race and religion, under the hoods, and embedded in the mesh come their counter-culture messages. Black Mob’s mission statement is to “Translate their social consciousness into fashion that stirs something in everyone; The good, the bad, uncomfortable or controversial.” The collection affirms monochrome never fails, but when mixed with the occasional colour burst, like iconic Stephen Sprouse Day-Glo graffiti of Louis Vuitton 2001; There’s a lot to like about this emerging Australian brand.
For functional, statement, modern classics with a monochrome palette, VIHN is the go-to brand. Fit is paramount for this label, and wardrobe longevity high. All pieces serve a purpose, individually or with corresponding garments. Due to their flourishing, close partnership with Lotus silk, it’s feel-good style at its best! VIHN support their Cambodian employees with further training, accommodation, and of course fair wages, making the modern day question of ‘Who Made my Clothes’ easy to answer.
Rachael Cassar excels with her brand of high end, deconstructed one-off garments. Recently celebrating 10 years in the sustainable design world; she should be a household name. Cassar’s craft is honed and her refreshingly unique take on ‘basic black’ is anything but in the Obscurus collection; buy now as a wardrobe investment.
2016’s Met gala theme, ‘Manus X Machina; Fashion in an age of Technology,’ was interpreted in varying levels of success by attendees. The aim was for couture to embrace the future by displaying cutting-edge options; Smart textiles, 3D printing, laser cutting and re-appropriation proved winners (It takes more than a token space-age ‘futuristic’ silver frock to impress – I’m glaring at you, Kylie Jenner). Emma Watson’s progressive collaboration with Calvin Klein, featuring fabric woven from yarns of recycled plastic bottles sent a strong message. The five piece look, allowing each element individual use, was complete with detachable train that can be called upon for another red carpet occasion.
“We buy too much, too cheap and are too quick to dispose of clothing that has hardly been used” opens Naked mag, Undress’s companion volume. Yep. We do. Enter Eco-Age founder Livia Firth’s Green Carpet Challenge; her practical aim for building a new system of consumption. “Instead of buying in bulk, why don’t we all adapt #30wears, and start buying clothes we truly love, know that we’ll keep them forever, and cherish the women who make them”, creating a movement anyone who owns 1 piece of clothing can actively partake in. The manifesto is this; If one cannot commit to wearing an item 30 times, then why buy it? Firth’s aim is fashion mileage; “Buy heritage pieces of the best quality you can afford, that become an active addition to your wardrobe.” Dame Vivienne Westwood, also on the matter; “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity. Everybody’s buying far too many clothes.” There are a plethora of options at our disposal, aside from disposable clothing! Swap, rent, share, readapt, update and mend. Buy vintage, buy local, buy better. Tell a powerful story with your sartorial choices and embrace being your own creative-opportunist. Aim to eliminate wastage in your industry, and the wastage you see happening in your daily lives. The challenge is to appropriate, rethink and redesign your world where you can.
An organisation founded by driven individuals, with a fresh approach, and like-minded in their objective, donating time and areas of expertise to combine and create a collective like undress, can only be a success. As Australia’s awakening and enthusiasm for sustainable fashion continues to build; Undress has put Brisbane on the map. The team are hinting at London 2017, as part of their go-global campaign. The Creative Issue wishes them all the best for their continued future success, they can be proudly confident they leave this city in a better state than when they found it.
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Images by Artist Collective Agency & Morgan Journal