Meet Tess Whitfort, Redress Design Award 2018 First Prize Winner
Punk and the ways subcultures express themselves through clothing are the starting points for Tess Whitfort’s Redress Design Award submission. “It’s reflective of my own style and attitudes,” admits the Box Hill Institute fashion graduate. “Harsh colours, grungy texture and androgynous leanings are the cornerstones of how I dress.”
Edgy, androgynous silhouettes in black and neon are meticulously executed; Tess applied techniques of up-cycling and zero-waste to industry end-of-rolls, customising designs with eco-friendly inks. Reclaimed hardware including zippers, buttons, D rings and rivets add to the narrative.
There are clear links to her design icon, Alexander McQueen. “The collection reflects the idea that a woman doesn’t need to be feminine or conventional and that something weird or damaged (like a deconstructed, patched garment) is just as valuable as something new, pristine and traditionally beautiful.”
Last year, Tess won the Melbourne Fashion Week Emerging Student Designer Award. “I was selected as the top fashion student in Melbourne, Australia based on innovation, workmanship, creativity and positive ambition,” she says, proudly. But the innovation doesn’t end at visuals: Tess is a passionate believer in fashion as a force for good.
“Sustainable practices are an absolute necessity,” she says. “It’s our responsibility to limit the negative environmental impacts of the fashion industry. One of my long-term goals is to create new solutions, whether through using AI to create zero-waste patterns, new ways of grading zero-waste patterns, or a new ecofriendly textile or process.
“Part of the appeal of sustainable design is that it’s about problem solving and innovation,” she says. These are skills she applied to issues of upscaling: “The textiles, for example, will always be readily available in bulk and the designs combine conventional methods of manufacture with more artisanal crafts, meaning they can be simplified for production.”
“The Redress Design Award is a fantastic opportunity,” she says, enthusiastically. “Sustainability and ethics within fashion is my primary passion. It’s encouraging to see so much support and I love the prospect of learning more about my craft and seeing my work on an overseas runway!”
This article originally appeared in the Redress Design Award 2018 Magazine.