the age of recycling

Bonne année mes amis!

It would seem an entire year has almost lapsed without an update on my makings and doings, so here is a little show and tell of what kept me away from this screen.

Back in March, I was interviewed by Natalie Craig and photographed by the very talented Meredith O’Shea for the Sunday Age, M Magazine.

recycled, sustainable fashion in The Age

I’m always thrilled to have my work listed alongside Ellie Mucke – my favourite Melbourne-based sustainable designer. To coincide with finishing my year without shopping in July last year, one of the first ‘new’ garments I treated myself to was one of her beautiful shirt-dresses.

With my son not yet at school, and my primary focus still at home,  I haven’t yet done any active marketing of my services.  This article was a wonderful reminder of the broad reach of marketing, with many new clients and projects that came my way!

A special thank you to Meredith O’Shea for initiating this story. Meredith has a lovely studio gallery on St Georges Road in North Fitzroy. You can drop by to see her photos or have a good look here.

And here’s the article by Natalie Craig:

A mini triumph

The Sunday Age
Sunday March 13, 2011
Natalie Craig

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Armed with a pile of clothes she no longer wears, Natalie Craig turns to some creative Melburnians for help – and finds everything old is new again. I empty two garbage bags of crushed clothes on the bed and look sheepishly at “sustainable” personal stylist Kim Kneipp. She’s here to help me “shop within my wardrobe” by mending, refashioning and splicing my old clothes to make flattering new outfits. But looking at the pile of fabric from my more promiscuous fashion days – a printed kaftan, a brown vinyl mini – I’m certain this lot is destined for the op shop. “Looks like we’ll have to go shopping for new clothes?” I ask Kneipp hopefully. “Not yet – there’s nearly always a way to save something,” she says. “Giving it all to Vinnies isn’t really the solution.” Kneipp says about one-third of clothes donated to charities is deemed unwearable and sent to landfill – the refuse of an industry geared to rapid turnover. “Fashion is responsible for amazing waste,” she says. “But we still need an element of fashion . . . clothing is not just about protection, it’s self-expression.” Kneipp, who formerly designed for hip Melbourne label Fat, offers personal styling (including all alterations) and refashioning workshops through her business Frockerphiliac. It’s one of several Melbourne enterprises encouraging people to develop a personal style while avoiding waste and mass-produced fashion. As Kneipp says, it’s a movement to “slow the frock up”. High-end designers are working with recycled garments; and workshops at this month’s Melbourne Fashion Festival will teach hoarders how to rework their old clothes and jewellery. Meanwhile, the Clothing Exchange, which organises public clothes swaps, has flourished since starting in Melbourne in 2004 and now runs monthly swaps in every state capital. “It all comes back to that wartime motto, ‘Make do and mend’,” says Kneipp of the trend. “It’s not hippie, it’s just living much more as our ancestors did, only using what’s in your means.” Indeed, I am fearful at the start of our refashioning exercise that I will end up looking like a beatnik. But after two hours of pinning, tucking, tweaking and pulling, Kneipp manages to come up with a solution for almost all my old clothes, which are nothing like the hippie patchwork dresses I had in mind. The waistline on the vinyl mini, for example, was up around my chest and made me look like an apple with legs. Or “a bit young”, as Kneipp says tactfully. But Kneipp showed me how, with the addition of a thick black band at the top of the skirt, she could lower the waistline and make it knee-length. Her vision is not at all hippie: I could see the skirt hanging on the racks at Fat. She also shows me how we could turn the kaftan into a strapless top, transform dresses into well-cut skirts, and turn low-cut blouses into backless tops. Kneipp’s principle of stylish saving is similar to other Melbourne designers. Ellie Mucke, who makes “slow fashion” women’s garments from old men’s shirts and pants, says she throws away almost nothing. “I make a thing called the ‘T-lace’, a necklace out of cotton-elastane T-shirts . . . The waste from those has now turned into a newer style of necklaces and earrings,” she says. “And I’ve got a bag of tiny little scraps that I’m going to stuff into cushions.” Mucke is collaborating with jeweller Emma Grace on an exhibition for the fashion festival of recycled garments, to be displayed at Kyneton’s Stockroom gallery. Mucke and Grace will also hold workshops at the Stockroom on reworking old jewellery and clothes. “Selling a service instead of a product and educating people to do it themselves was a way to do something sustainable from within my industry,” says Grace, who also runs regular “Fix Your Loot” jewellery workshops. “The surprising thing about (the workshops) is they seem to lift people’s confidence . . . they go away and tell everyone, ‘Look, I made this!’ ” North Fitzroy jeweller Angela Clark has also branched into workshops and holds a fortnightly “PhD – Projects Half Done” – night for errant beaders. Her Boutique Beads shop houses multicoloured beads, including oddities such as skull-shaped beads, and odd vintage pieces such as belt buckles and dress clips, which she fashions into necklaces. She says workshops encourage people to be more considerate about what they buy. “It’s part of a push to retrain people to think about what they’ve got and appreciate the smaller things and how they can be used.” Kneipp agrees. “So many people have guilt purchases, and clothes with swing tags still hanging in their wardrobe . . . But there are ways to use what you’ve got, and you can end up with something that feels like it’s brand new. You can still get that shopping buzz, without the guilt.”

© 2011 The Sunday Age