Critical Fashion Studies Podcast
By Critical Fashion Studies Research Group
Critical Fashion Studies PodcastAug 24, 2023
Reinvigorating Australia’s Knitwear Industry with Kirri-Mae Sampson
Australia is famous for some of the best wool in the world. However, even though we produce one quarter of the world’s wool, 98% of it is exported before it’s turned into clothing. The lack of milling, weaving, and knitting capacity in Australia means that very little knitwear is actually made here. But this wasn’t always the case.
What are small manufacturers doing to reinvigorate the Australian knitwear industry?
Today, Harriette is talking to to Kirri-Mae Sampson, co-founder of HATCH + make, a circular design, development, and manufacturing facility producing premium knitwear in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. HATCH + make is innovative both in its implementation of a circular economy framework—which ensures as little waste as possible—and its commitment to local, regenerative production techniques.
Celebrating Sustainable Fashion with Josephine Rout
Sustainability is one of the most pressing issues facing contemporary fashion. This is particularly true for emerging designers, who hold the demands and opportunities of sustainable practice in especially sharp focus.
So how is the innovative work of these pioneering young designers being celebrated?
Today, Harriette talks to Josephine Rout, the new Senior Curator at the National Wool Museum in Geelong. For her first project in this position, Josephine is leading the We the Makers Sustainable Fashion Prize, which supports authentic design, material consciousness and sustainable, ethical practice.
Building an Emerging Indigenous Fashion Brand with Juanita Page
The School of Fashion and Textiles at Melbourne’s RMIT University welcomes hundreds of new students every year. Students who are passionate about fashion and want to join the excitement of an industry on the cutting edge of design, technology, and digital innovation.
But what do these students do when they finish their degrees and head out into the world?
In today’s episode, Harriette speaks to Juanita Page, an RMIT alumnus and proud Gooreng Gooreng and South Sea Islander woman. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fashion Technology degree in 2017, Juanita founded the slow fashion menswear brand JOSEPH & JAMES. Today, they’ll be talking about finding your feet in Australia’s fashion industry.
Melbourne-Made Footwear with Myra Spencer
Last year, the Australian Made initiative organised a show in partnership with the Melbourne Fashion Festival. The models paraded the Cranbourne Royal Botanical Gardens dressed entirely in locally made garments. However, they were conspicuously barefooted.
Very few shoes are actually made here. A skills shortage and lack of machinery means that most local designers manufacture their shoes abroad or import leather pre-cut. This means they’re not licensed to carry the iconic Australian Made logo — a green triangle with a yellow kangaroo.
But are there really no Australian-made shoes?
In today’s episode, Harriette speaks to Post Sole Studio co-founder Myra Spencer about making shoes locally. Post Sole Studio is based in Abbotsford, where Myra, her co-founder Breeze Powell, and their small team design and make footwear, which they call “a manifestation of their love of shoemaking.”
Made-to-Measure Tailoring for Diverse Bodies with Emily Nolan
In 2016, cultural historian Christopher Breward wrote “The suit is a complex, enduring vessel of meaning whose form raises questions about identity that continue to challenge us today.”
How is the history of traditionally masculine suiting being reimagined for a new audience?
In today’s episode, Harriette speaks to E Nolan founder Emily Nolan about her made-to-measure label that caters to women and gender-diverse people.
The Camp Clothing of the Australian Queer Archives with Nick Henderson
From protest T-shirts to partywear, clothing has played an important role in Australia’s rich queer culture. But who ensures that these stories are preserved, remembered, and celebrated? And where are the artefacts of this history kept?
Today, we’re talking to Nick Henderson, curator at the Australian Queer Archives, about the collection’s clothing and textiles. Based at the Victorian Pride Centre in St Kilda, the archive is a veritable treasure trove of art, books and ephemera that celebrate Australia’s queer histories.
To get in touch about donating material, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Exhibiting Fashion at Bendigo Art Gallery with Emma Busowsky
From blockbuster shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to our own National Gallery of Victoria, museums and art galleries have become increasingly important sites for exhibiting fashion.
However, there is also a vibrant fashion scene within smaller, regional art galleries and museums, which often show more intimate or unconventional exhibitions.
In today’s episode, Harriette talks to curator Emma Busowsky from the Bendigo Art Gallery about bringing fashion exhibitions to regional Victoria. Most recently, Emma curated ‘Australiana: Designing a Nation’, which is on now.
Clarence Chai: Remembering Melbourne’s Queer Fashion Pioneer with Dr Sally Gray
The history of queer fashion in Sydney has received a lot of attention. The first Madi Gras in 1978 cemented the city’s reputation as a gay capital. At the same time, young artists and designers were adding to the city’s colourful, camp atmosphere. But what about queer fashion in Melbourne in the 1970s and 80s? Who was making adventurous, gender non-conforming fashion in this city?
In today’s episode, Harriette speaks to independent art and fashion scholar Dr Sally Gray about the Singapore-born designer Clarence Chai — a queer innovator who made his mark on Melbourne’s youth culture.
Chai may not have been as loud or outspoken as his contemporaries, yet his legacy is no less significant. In the wake of his recent passing, now is the time for him to receive the attention he deserves.
Taking First Nations Fashion Global with Denni Francisco
First Nations communities across Australia have long histories of sartorial adornment. This rich heritage is finally receiving the recognition it deserves in this country, but how can we share Indigenous Australian fashion with the world?
In this episode, Harriette talks to Wiradjuri fashion entrepreneur Denni Francisco about taking local fashion international. Denni runs Ngali, a Naarm-based label that has earned an international following for its clothing and textiles adorned with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artwork.
Australia’s Fashion Label Launchpad with Julia van der Sommen
Australia imports almost one and a half billion garments every year, but only 3% of clothing sold is actually made here.
In light of this imbalance, what can be done to help Australian designers achieve their dreams locally?
In this episode, Harriette talks to Julia van der Sommen, the Director of Sample Room. Based in Collingwood, Julia and her team help designers launch their labels with a range of domestic services — from pattern making to manufacturing.
Introducing Season Two: Spotlight on Melbourne
Welcome to season two of the Critical Fashion Studies Podcast!
This season is all about celebrating Melbourne’s fashion community — the practitioners, entrepreneurs, historians, and activists shaping the future of Australian fashion.
Over the next 10 episodes, you'll hear conversations about queer fashion history, Indigenous fashion design, tailoring for diverse bodies, the lost art of bespoke shoe making, and much more.
Every episode has been recorded on the unceded lands of the Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung language groups of the Eastern Kulin nation. We pay our deep respect to First Nations Elders past and present, not only here in Naarm but across the lands and waters of Australia where listeners may be tuning in.
This season is brought to you by the Critical Fashion Studies Research Group with generous support from Creative Victoria.
Bonus Episode: Melbourne Fashion Week Conversations
The NGV's Fashion and Textiles Collection
The National Gallery of Victoria has one of the most extensive fashion and textile collections in the southern hemisphere, holding over 8,000 works by Australian and international designers.
In this season's final episode, Natalya Lusty and Britt Craig talk to the NGV's curator of international fashion and textiles, Paola Di Trocchio, about the gallery's collection and recent exhibitions, as well as how fashion shapes our social and cultural worlds.
Ethical Clothing Australia's Amanda Bresnan on Labour Exploitation
Have you ever seen a label for Ethical Clothing Australia attached to a garment and wondered what it means?
In these week's episode, Harriette and Natalya interview ECA's national manager, Amanda Bresnan, about labour exploitation in the fashion industry and helping consumers make informed decisions about the clothes they buy.
Nina Fitzgerald on First Nations Fashion
Earlier this year at Melbourne Fashion Festival, Nina Fitzgerald curated Thread Count, a multimedia installation of handwoven baskets and bags from Arnhem Land and the Daly River Region of the Northern Territory.
Exhibiting the objects in a fashion festival highlighted the functionality of a beautiful Indigenous craft that has gone overlooked for too long.
In this week's episode, Harriette talks to Nina about her exhibition, Australia's recent embrace of Indigenous fashion, and the most constructive ways to support First Nation fashion workers.
Vietnamese Outworkers in Australian Fashion
In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, over 55,000 refugees fled their country to start a new life in Australia.
Many urgently needed jobs to support their relatives back home, and went on to play an important but overlooked role in our fashion industry as outworkers, employees who worked from home instead of at garment factories.
This week’s episode is about the stories of these Vietnamese outworkers in the history of Australian fashion.
Introducing the Critical Fashion Studies Podcast
We hear a lot about ethical fashion, but what does this mean in practice?
In this four-part series, co-hosts Harriette Richards and Natalya Lusty interview Australian fashion experts about how sustainability and diversity are shaping our local fashion industry.