Inside the World of Accessories Design


  Sharing a Passion for Fashion

In the world of accessories design, it takes passion, technical skills and a lot of business know-how to break in. Lucy Weate has loads of all three qualities.  Now she’s sharing them with the next generation of accessories designers.


Lucy Weate loves teaching fashion design as much as she loved working in it.

The former business owner and graphic designer has also spent many years designing accessories, shoes and apparel. It’s a passion she happily shares with the student designers she teaches at TAFE SA and Flinders University.

Based on her own career experiences, Lucy is positive about opportunities available in fashion. Its fast pace and possibilities for travel and networking are incredibly exciting, she says.

Being able to share her knowledge and experience of the business is a rewarding way for the talented designer to engage with other creatives. She derives enormous satisfaction from watching students put their newly acquired skills into practice. There’s almost nothing better, in her view, than helping creatives build the essential technical skills and business know-how required by the industry.

Lucy Weate in the classroom with students at TAFE SA

Of her own experience in the fashion industry, Lucy talks about how surprising it was to discover the industry’s focus on business. “I felt I was a business person first and a fashion designer second. The majority of my time was spent negotiating, looking at currencies, costing and facilitating production.”

One of the topics Lucy teaches involves developing skills for modeling and making accessories.  In a 3D printing laboratory that she oversees, the budding student designers can make any accessories of their choice. That is, providing they use industry tools which are made available to them. These include laser cutters, 3D printers and something called a vacuum former that uses both heating and suction to shape things. Earrings, bags and necklaces are popular choices. It’s fun, but also provides valuable insights into testing ideas, development and sustainability.

Some of the accessories designed by Lucy Weate's TAFE SA Students

Accessories by Lucy’s students. Clockwise from left, Georgia Farese, Georgia O’Neill & Tasmin Hastwell.

Innovation is encouraged!

It’s one of the things that Lucy says singles out this new course from other accessories design courses around the country.  In only its second year, the general feedback is that it’s challenging but also enjoyable, exciting and inspiring.

Belt and Buckle accessories designed by TAFE SA students

Accesories by students Tilly Leighton (L), Georgia Farese & Tilly Leighton (R)

“I love it when students push the boundaries and attempt to create things that I have never seen or thought of before.”

Then there are the disaster near-misses. “Unexpected results can be funny” she says, “but they can also be enlightening and take a student in a whole new direction. I refer to these as happy accidents. It’s integral to leave yourself open to these in your design process.”

Equipment and design piece made for an accessory by TAFE SA student

Tafe SA Accessories Designs

Accessories by students Jess Henry & Amy Bower

Of her own journey, Lucy says she was fortunate to secure work in the fashion industry while still studying. She recalls finishing her graduate collection for TAFE, then heading off around the world for a product development and forecasting trip a couple of weeks later. It was a huge responsibility for a fresh graduate, as Lucy oversaw the design and development of a number of shoe ranges every year, along with accessories and apparel.

In the world of Australian accessories, Lucy highly ranks the works of Elke Kramer and Dinosaur Designs, for always creating exciting forms and proportions. She also ranks The Daily Edited and The Horse as having appealing minimalist accessory ranges. Globally, Lucy’s favourites include BOYY, Dries Van Noten, Mansur Gavriel, Issey Miyake and Jacquemus.

“I love how accessories can totally change a look. Style icons like Iris Apfel masterfully use accessories to create a distinct aesthetic that is never boring.”

TAFE SA Lecturer Lucy Weate

Lucy Weate






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