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Fashion Designer

Frantic Fashion & Australia’s Invisible Designers

The majority of Australians will work, sleep and die in the garments of the mass market. Yet, as Ian Griffiths has termed it, the designers of these garments are ‘invisible’ (2000). To the general public, the values, opinions and individual design processes of these designers are as unknown as their names. However, the designers role is crucial in making decisions which will have impacts throughout the life of the garment. The high product volume within the mass market ensures that even a small decision in the design process to source a particular fabric, or to use a certain trim or textile finish, can have a profound environmental or social effect. While big companies in Australia have implemented some visible strategies for sustainability, it is uncertain how these may have flowed through to design practices.

To explore this question, this presentation will discuss preliminary findings from in-depth semi-structured interviews with Australian mass market fashion designers and product developers. The aim of the interviews was to hear the voice of the insider to listen to mass market designers describe their design process, discuss the Australian fashion industry and its future challenges and opportunities, and to comment on what a ‘sustainability’ for their industry could look like. These interviews will be discussed within the framework of design philosopher Tony Fry’s writing on design redirection for sustainability.

This article was originally published in “Fashion Colloquia – London, September, 2011”.