Thoughtful Slow Fashion via
Carley Rose Wolski
This month we return to our series celebrating an emerging Aussie designer as our Revolutionary of the Month. Jacqueline Miholos speaks with Sydney designer Carley Rose Wolski about her self titled label and her focus on slow, ethical and sustainable fashion.
“Carley Rose The Label was created in 2016 out of an awareness of the current condition of the fashion industry, paired with a desire to create a different and better choice for consumers that would be kinder to both people and the environment.”
What are your views about ethical and sustainable fashion?
At 16 I realised that I was really keen to be a fashion designer. But I had a moral issue as well. I was learning about all of these problems with the fashion industry and why we shouldn’t be buying so many clothes. I really wanted to be a designer but I didn’t know if I could do it morally. Then I realised that the only way to change the industry is to get involved and do something about it. I thought if I could launch my brand and advocate for more ethical practices for manufacturing using the most sustainable resources possible, I could showcase beautiful wearable fashion that is also sustainable. I think sustainable fashion can often be seen as quite boring and plain. I haven’t seen many designs with bright colours and fun patterns. So that’s what I’d like to bring to the industry.
What drew you to fashion design?
When I was a little kid, I use to play with my nanna’s fabric scraps and mannequin. I told my mum from a very young age that fashion design was what I wanted to do. So I went with my heart.
Tell us about your experience at Raffles Sydney and your internship at Romance Was Born.
Raffles was the course that offered most of the subjects I wanted to study. I wanted to learn all of the technical design skills plus the business side of fashion.
At Raffles, I was pleasantly surprised by how creative I got to be. I enjoyed the technical classes as well. Some of my favourite classes were pattern making and learning how garments are put together. This now informs my design ideas. I also did a couture techniques class where I learned how to make a wedding dress. That turned out to be beneficial as I design lot of couture garments.
My internship at Romance Was Born was amazing. I loved just being in their studio and taking everything in. Most of the time I was doing things like cutting samples or filling orders and seeing how their order systems and website worked. They often used artworks as their prints or for inspiration. I would cut out massive prints of artworks and collage them together. We would cover the whole floor then look at them and decide which motifs they were going to use. I loved how hands-on their design process was. They’re super creative and aren’t afraid to be wacky with their designs. Also, their fashion shows are phenomenal.
What’s your favourite part of the design process?
I love it when I’m just starting my designs and gathering my references. There’s always a story behind my work. I try to make it about ethical and sustainable issues. My graduate collection was about the coral reef and how the Great Barrier Reef is being bleached from all of the pollution. My last collection was again looking at the ocean. This time I was focusing on the little creatures that live right at the bottom of the ocean and the beauty that is hidden below the surface. I also love it when I get all of my fabrics and start actually doing the hands on designing where things might change a bit when I’m working on the mannequin.
Tell us about your latest collection. What was the inspiration behind your designs?
My Autumn/Winter Collection is a follow on from my previous collection. I was exploring fibres I could use that are more sustainable. I want to use natural fibres. I worked with a beautiful linen I found. Linen is one of the most sustainable fibres because it doesn’t take as much water or pesticides as cotton to grow. Using some of the silhouettes from my previous collection, I’ve put together a really comfortable easy to wear range that can be a more sustainable option for customers.
You just launched your new website. What are you hoping this will achieve for your label?
The main reason I decided to re-do the website is to improve the functionality for my customers. Things such as After Pay, International Shipping and pre-orders are now all available.
What is your proudest achievement so far?
I would say my proudest achievement so far was showing at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia last year. I’m actually preparing to show again this May. It was an awesome experience putting on a show of that scale. I learned the business side of things including that I needed to have a lookbook and a line sheet for orders after the show. I also ended up on the Disney Channel with some of the presenters, so that was awesome!
These last couples of months I’ve been working on two collections at once. One is my new Autumn/Winter Collection and the other is my show for MBFWA which will be a resort collection.
What’s next for Carley Rose the Label?
The next big thing I’m focusing on now is MBFWA in May. The show will be very couture and runway ready. After that I will also be designing a few pieces that will be retail ready. The Resort Collection is inspired by Australia’s mining history. It sounds like a funny thing for a fashion collection to be inspired by but I like looking into our ethical and sustainability issues and mining has been quite a big topic. I was looking at the good and bad sides of mining. There’s a lot of minerals and precious gem stones inspiring that collection.
What’s your ultimate dream for yourself and the label?
It would be amazing to become a well-known brand. I think what’s most important to me is that I’d really love to provide lots of jobs to small communities. At the moment I have a lot of people working for me. I have one lady here in Australia who embroiders and a group of men from an ethically run business in India that do embroidering and beading. I’d love to be able to keep all of the production very ethical and sustainable using as many sustainable fabrics as I can. I’d also love to explore new textiles that are coming out at the moment. Unfortunately they’re only available to larger brands. So I look forward to growing so I have better access.