Victorian Fashion Style from the Outback
When designer Tori-Anne Gill couldn’t find the kind of garments she wanted to wear, she got to work.
We spoke to Tori about her label Dark Thorn and her experience in the fashion industry so far.
You live 2 hours from the nearest capital city on a farm. What inspired you to take up fashion design?
Living on a farm I guess helps you realise where everything comes from and how precious supporting local and Australian really is. My mother and nana both sew and mum would always make us kids clothes. When I’m not designing I’m helping my parents on the farm or working with my mum on our kids label.
How did you get started? Tell us about your first collection?
Technically I started in 2013 printing my designs onto t-shirts and it went from there. I later made skater skirts out of different fabrics to go with the prints.
You headed to Paris for a runway exhibition during Paris Fashion Week. Tell us more about that experience.
Paris was an amazing experience but I do wish I did more research before I went over there. I debuted a new collection, Highland, on the runway which was inspired by my recent holiday to Scotland. I met so many amazing people and it was definitely an eye-opener into the big world of fashion.
What did you learn from your Paris experience?
That the fashion industry is so open and broad and that I am heading in the right direction design-wise. I guess it settled me into my roots and made me realise that what I was doing was great and to push forward with it.
You design everything from belts, to bodysuits, to blouses, dresses and coats. That’s prolific for a new label. Where does all that creative energy come from?
Finding the energy is hard but keeping the energy there is harder. The accessories came about when I was designing the Highland collection and I realised that for Paris I needed accessories to make my collection really pop. So I took the inspiration from what the Scots would wear and also from what I would wear and put that into place. I worked the accessories around the outfits I made for Paris.
We haven’t seen much from you in the way of flat lays, yet your collections offer so much that could be mixed and matched. What are your favourite combinations from your collections?
Hmm that’s a hard one, I love the Mina Coats with the Edith blouses underneath and the new Davina Coat with the Archie belt around the waist. Options are endless and my favourite combinations always change.
Who is the classic Dark Thorn girl?
I guess it’s someone who loves classic designs and cuts, timeless garments and someone who like to invest in staple, statement and timeless designs.
What’s the most exciting thing about designing? What’s the most challenging?
The most exciting thing about designing is the process. Seeing your designs go from a 2D drawing to a fully-fledged design and collection. You never know what will spike the inspiration which always makes it interesting. The most challenging is the business side of things. Getting your name out there and trust within the customers for them to be able to spend the money when you’re currently only an online business.
Where are your pieces made? Can you tell us a little bit about your manufacturing process?
Each Dark Thorn garment is made in Sydney while all the leather pieces are handmade by myself in my studio. The garments are sampled, patterned and manufactured in Sydney.
Where next for Dark Thorn?
No new collections yet. I’m going to work on my current collections and stockists. There is a new shop opening called 202 Collective where you can now buy Dark Thorn in store and I am also participating in the South Australian Fashion Focus Weekend in November.
You can browse Tori’s designs for Dark Thorn here and follow her journey on Instagram.
To read about other young Aussie designers, tap here.