Good Style: U&I in a Surf State of Mind

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A unique collaboration between Australian fashion designer Jodie Hayes and Swedish designer and photographer Emma Backlund, has created the first independent women’s surf label from Bells Beach- U&I.

The chase for waves led both Jodie & Emma to Torquay in 2012, where they bonded over their love of good surf and great style. Together, they decided to create a surf wear line for women that ’empowers instead of objectifies.’

The concepts and styles are dreamt up between surfs, laughs and beers and Jodie and Emma say that “every stitch is inspired by the power of the ocean and designed to complement the grace of female board riders.”

In addition to their Summer 15/16 range (which is a very clever interchangeable mix of tops, bottoms and one-pieces) the recently launched Storm Collection is a more ‘luxurious’ extension of the summer staples- complete with on trend prints.

All garments are designed and hand dyed in Torquay and are proudly made in Australia.

Shop your surf style at U&I!

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Being Bashful with Teresa Redrup

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Winter has well and truly settled itself into Sydney, bringing with it biting winds and frosty mornings. One of the upsides of the cooler months however, is the stunning selection of styles full of chunky knitwear, lovely layers and diverse textures.

In preparation for the change of season, I like to stock my wardrobe full of colourful cardigans, scarves and tights and as an avid online shopper (the internet is full of bargains!) I am always on the hunt for new stores full of sustainable fashion.

Teresa Redrup is the brains behind Bashful Garter, an online shopping destination that supports local Australian and New Zealand designers. It is fast becoming one of my ‘go to’ sites as it has a unique aesthetic and a strong commitment to quality design, boasting labels like Kowtow, Penny Sage and Romance Was Born (along with a pretty awesome blog!)

Here, Teresa talks about the birth of Bashful Garter and shares her tips on conscious consumption and creating a chic winter wardrobe!

I have been in the fashion, bridal or costume industries my entire working life.

I have also acted in a few roles which saw me having to communicate with a number of offshore manufacturers. In the last few years working in these roles, I came across more and more information about poor working conditions in various places around the world and it made me think about how little I knew about the people I was working with. It also made me realise how hard it is for consumers to get a good idea of what’s going on given they are even further removed from the process. I considered getting out of the industry for a while but I couldn’t imagine what else I would do with myself!

I guess the idea for Bashful Garter stemmed from a desire to work in the field that I knew and loved, but to do so with a clearer conscience and with more control. I wanted my business to be thoughtful and considered as well as beautiful.

I like to think we are creating our own little Bashful Garter feel and aesthetic which is very important to us.

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(photo of Teresa Redrup)

We are guided by the desire to be as responsible as possible, which makes us a little different from many online stores.

We choose to work with local Australian and New Zealand designers that manufacture locally, as the industry here really needs the support. I also feel like I can stand by these products as being well made. We love working with designers who are championing fair trade and organic fabrics and dyes.

It’s also important to me that they manufacture to a certain quality as I want everything we stock to have a decent life-span. I think really highly of all the brands we stock and am pretty pleased to have them in our little shop!

It’s really easy to walk into a mall and find $50 jeans and $15 tshirts at the moment. Sadly, that’s the extent of ‘the story’ shared with the customer.

I think it’s easy to ignore some really poor manufacturing practices when people are so disconnected from the ‘story’ of their clothing.

The garment industry here is not that big and most people today don’t sew at home. That can mean we have less understanding of the process of creating fabrics, dying and printing fabric, creating a pattern, cutting and sewing a garment and that lack of understanding can make it harder to see the value in items of clothing.

I’ve always found so much joy in making things and spending time with other makers. Making is magic to me! It’s a form of meditation and expression. It has been my means of income for years and also my hobby.

I love documentaries about craft and couture and have a shelves full of textile books. To me fashion and textiles was always this really romantic thing. I felt the ‘story’ was great and something that should be shared, not something to be swept under the carpet.

It’s something I am trying to communicate more and more on the website as I feel like it’s a massive part of appreciating things. And I feel that if more people appreciate what they have then fast fashion wouldn’t be the norm.

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There are lots of easy, little ways of being more conscious in how we consume fashion. My biggest tip is to buy the best quality you can afford.

I know everyone has different budgets, but try to think long term and spend a bit extra on things you truly love and will wear regularly. All fashion has some impact on the environment, so make sure that what you do buy is well made so it won’t fall apart easily.

Take care of your things- learn how to darn or find a good alterations place that can do repairs and wash delicate items by hand.

I try to select versatile pieces for the shop that can we worn in different ways in different situations, dressed up or dressed down. I’m not really into dress codes as such. I tend to just wear what I want and put more effort into my hair and make up and sling on some heels if I am attending more of an ‘event’. I don’t like having clothes sitting in my closet waiting for an appropriate occasion. Only buy things you love and wear them.

Merino wool and boucle are big favourites of mine for Winter.

I love the Penny Sage jumpers and big boucle coat. I like the slightly looser shapes for winter so I can layer up underneath. I really like the cold and tend to go to town with layers. My feet need to be warm, my head needs to be warm and my coat has to have pockets!

There is a great material that a few of the designers have used this Winter- a bonded nylon, which is a bit like scuba diving material. I’m loving it as it’s thin and achieves a tailored look. It stands away from the skin but is really insulating. The cold wind doesn’t get through it at all. It’s also really easy to care for, easy to wash and hard to damage.

Lately I’ve been wearing…

The Romance Was Born Mr Bears a-line skirt on high repetition and the Arnley Rivoli dress. It’s the perfect little black dress for Winter as it’s great as a dress with tights and also with nice pants underneath.

And finally, it’s not strictly a style tip, but one winter I couldn’t shake the cold and seemed to be sneezing and coughing for months. A friend recommended I put Vicks VapoRub on the bottom of my feet before putting shoes and socks on. Best advice ever! I do this all the time now and it really does keep my feet warm.

Shop for your winter essentials at the Bashful Garter online store.

Fashion & Floristry with Amy Tracey

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I know I have been sharing a lot of interviews on the blog lately, but since I started Thinking Fashion up again, I have just uncovered this whole swag of amazing people doing great things.

I am particularly excited about this one.

I believe that Amy Tracey is one designer who is going places. She is currently being mentored to show a collection at Australia’s first ever Indigenous Fashion Week in April next year, but is already making her mark as an accessory guru, even designing for Roopa Pemmaraju.

I actually first spoke about Amy, on my regular eco fashion segment on ABC radio the other week, when she had just launched her label, Flannel Billy into the online world.

She is a fashionista, florist and alumni of my old stomping ground, the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). So here’s Amy’s story in her own words.

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Can you tell us a bit about how Flannel Billy started and what the label is all about?

As an Indigenous woman, I have always felt a strong pull to the land and living in the middle of the city of Sydney whilst studying fashion at UTS was, to be honest, a real struggle for me. I missed the trees, the flowers, the birds and the open plains that I was so used to being around my entire life.

But more than just missing the land, it had a real impact on my state of mind and I soon realised that I wasn’t a happy person in the city environment. So after graduating from University, I decided that I wanted to do something that meant I could be around nature on a more regular basis. On a whim, I started studying floristry and I fell in love. And that is how Flannel Billy was born.

It’s a fashion label which incorporates accessories constructed from native Australian flowers and aims to give Indigenous Australians living away from their country and their communities like I am, a chance to carry a small piece of the land with them for that special occasion.

We live in a nation that has regrettably been letting its Indigenous culture slip away and many young Indigenous Australians of mixed cultural background, are finding themselves lost and not quite fitting into either side of their heritage.

Through Flannel Billy, I really want to try and create an attitude that encourages young Australians to accept their heritage, both the Indigenous and non Indigenous parts of it, while urging older Indigenous people to continue to share their knowledge of Indigenous culture and mythology.

That’s how I came up with the name Flannel Billy. It comes from the English words for two native flowers which grow on Wiradjuri country- the flannel flower and the billy button.

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How have you found being part of the mentoring program for Australian Indigenous Fashion Week?

I find it hard to put into words, just how grateful I am for every moment I spend in the mentoring program. I have met some of my greatest inspirations and people I have looked up to for so many years. Some of these people have even become friends.

I have sat and discussed my dreams and plans with industry experts that I thought I would honestly never get to meet within the next five years. The wealth of knowledge that was placed at our fingertips every step of the way throughout this entire process, is unprecedented.

More precious than anything, has been sitting month after month in a room full of empowered and passionate Indigenous women, chasing and fighting for their dreams. The fact that they all happen to be chasing a similar dream to mine is an added bonus.

Some of the people in that room tell stories of endurance like I have never heard. Seeing them chase their dreams after all they have been through, makes concrete in my mind, just how resilient our people are and how proud we should be of that.

I will be forever grateful for this experience. It has been a true gift and I hope that many more young Indigenous designers are able to become part of the same process.

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Why do you think it’s important that we have an Indigenous Fashion Week in Australia?

I understand that many people will ask why Indigenous designers can’t be part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and the answer is they can. I am confident that as time moves on, Australia will see more and more of its Indigenous designers reach a level where they can participate in Australian Fashion Week, but the fact is, we aren’t there yet.

Australian Indigenous Fashion Week will be a national platform through which we can showcase to our nation and the world, the wealth of creative talent and traditional craftsmanship that can be offered by Australian Indigenous fashion designers and why shouldn’t that be celebrated? I believe the fashion world is experiencing a global movement at the moment and people are ready to learn about Indigenous cultures and traditional practices and more importantly, they want to learn these things from the people who own this knowledge. Indigenous Fashion Week is our chance to do this and personally, I can’t wait!

What are your future plans for Flannel BIlly and what can we expect from you next?

Well, in the immediate future I will continue producing custom floral accessories and fashion pieces while working to produce the collection for AIFW in April 2014.

If all goes well with this collection, obviously the dream is to churn out another soon after.

Long term, I’d love to be able to get to a point where I could employ some Indigenous staff members and travel out to communities where I grew up, to teach simple floristry skills to women so that they have an additional choice for a career path, if they chose to follow me down that road.

I was very blessed growing up and have come from a very nurturing and inspiring family. Most of the help and assistance I took advantage of to get to this point is available to all Indigenous women, but living on country far away from the city can prevent access to these opportunities.

The fact that I have been able to reach the point that I have today and am staring down the barrel of what may well be a successful career in my chosen industry, makes me want to give back and help others who haven’t been as fortunate as I have.