How to Find Your Footing As An Australian Fashion Designer

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The uncertainties of 2020 have inspired many of us to pick up new skills, or maybe even dust off some old hobbies that the demands of everyday life had once forced us to shelve. Virtual poetry workshops, concerts, art classes, and book clubs have filled up our social calendars, and along the way there’s been a wave of new social projects and digital enterprises popping up all across the city. For those of you who’ve been working with your hands and realising you actually kind of like it, maybe it’s worth considering picking up a new trade, like fashion design! Make your mark on Melbourne’s fashion scene by following these four simple steps.

1. Experiment

As Australia’s fashion capital, the city of Melbourne is no stranger to unique and experimental designs. Just going for a stroll through Fitzroy or South Yarra and peering through the windows of independent boutiques will reveal that there are a myriad of makers out there, ranging from Melbourne laser cutting specialists to ceramists and pottery studios, all learning and innovating the way Melbournians do! Draw upon the artistic wealth and knowledge that surrounds you in order to discover the disciplines that align best with how you express yourself artistically. The more areas you explore, the more likely you’ll be able to engage with a discipline or even disciplines that you can see yourself practicing in the long term. 

2. Meet other artists

Alongside allowing you to better design or identify your desired artistic pathway, experimentation can also be a perfect way to meet other makers and expand on your creative network. Of course, this is easier said than done, but there are still plenty of virtual Melbourne clubs and groups you can join to provide yourself with a sense of community as you delve deep into your selected disciplines. Once you’ve settled into these groups, you’ll find that you’ll start to reap the benefits of community-based learning almost immediately. But meeting other artists isn’t just about providing yourself with a solid foundation for learning. Collaboration is just as big a part of being creative as curating a personal vision is, and the further you continue along this designed pathway, the more valuable you’ll find those opportunities to collaborate with your peers.

3. Learn your craft

Once you’ve done a bit of experimenting, networking, and maybe even some collaboration, it’s time you consider seeking out some formal training in your selected disciplines. That’s right, you’re going to design school! Picasso’s credited with saying that you need to ‘learn the rules like a pro’ in order to ‘break them like an artist’, and that’s really the whole point of getting an education. Attaining a formal education in your craft will ensure that you possess the knowledge and vocabulary to be able to express yourself not only through creation, but also through words. 

Communicating with your audience is a skill whose value cannot be understated, and oftentimes it can mean the difference between failure and success. It doesn’t matter how innovative you are, if nobody can perceive that innovation but you. And straying from the mould is all well and good, but you need to understand exactly how you’re being innovative, and then be able to communicate why this innovation needs to take place. Design school is also another perfect environment for expanding on your artistic network and opening yourself up to yet more and more advanced opportunities for collaboration within the Melbourne landscape!

4. Find your niche

Now that you’ve formally mastered your discipline, it’s finally time for you to use all the skills you’ve accrued not just through design school, but through all three previous stages we have discussed here in this article. Your fourth and final stage is attaining the title of an established designer: finding your niche. This is where your artistic vision can finally be realised, and perhaps even supported by the now undoubtedly large network of like-minded makers that you’ve surrounded yourself with. Use all the resources at your disposal to kickstart your debut exhibition, start a signature collection, or even open up your own storefront on Brunswick Street!

It’s important to remember that there’s no reason you can’t build yourself up to get to whatever level of designer you’d like to find yourself at, and that journey will look a little different for everyone. In this city full of dreamers, surely anything is possible.

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