Hello there world! Some very exciting times are upon us here at Think Positive – we’ve got a bunch of great new content coming up to inspire and excite you. But one thing at a time, we don’t want to give all of our sparkly secrets away at once. Sooooo, (drumroll)… Today is the T+ Q&A launch day (the first of many), where we will share with you endlessly creative humans that we have the pleasure of working alongside everyday. Think Positive is decidated to beauty and quality; and we’re eternally grateful that the people we surround ourselves with share the same ethos.
To kick off, it is our absolute pleasure to introduce Sydney based designer Annie Hamilton. Annie is a label owner and a freelance designer and illustrator with a love of pattern, detail, illustration, sustainable textiles and contemporary Australiana.
We have thrown 13 (it really is a lucky number) questions at this Aussie super talent – so go infuse some loose leaf tea, get comfy and open your mind with Amazing Annie.
THE T+ Q&A #01 / Amazing Annie
1. Looks like you’re being supported and showcased left, right and centre right now! How does it feel being Annie Hamilton, one of Australia’s best creative talents?
Haha I definitely would not call myself one of Australia’s best creative talents, but thank you! To be honest it still feels pretty weird that I even have a clothing label, which is something I had always thought I would love to do, but never realistically saw happening. I’m learning a lot and making a lot up as I go, but it’s super fun and I’m extremely appreciative of everyone who has supported me so far.
2. Apart from the obvious reasons… Please tell us why fabrics derived from eco-friendly resources, such as sustainably grown fibers are so important to you and your work?
I started learning about sustainable textile design when I was at uni a few years ago, and I’ve found that the more you learn, the more you realise how important it is to be selecting fabrics made in the most sustainable way possible. The textile industry is one of the highest polluting industries in the world, and there are massive human and environmental impacts to take into consideration when designing or buying textiles. Many textile crops use huge amounts of pesticides, resulting in human illness and environmental degradation, while the production of synthetic fibres is also often an extremely toxic process, as is the conventional dyeing process.
Much of the world’s textile production is now based in countries like Bangladesh, India and Cambodia where there are less regulations on this sort of stuff, which means that the land and the people working in the supply chain are often exploited for the sake of a cheap piece of clothing. I think that it’s extremely important for designers (and consumers) to do the research to find out where and how their fabrics and clothes are made, so that they can support the people who are trying to create in a sustainable, fair and environmentally-friendly way.
3. We’d love to know to know more about your detailed illustrations of native Australian flora and insects… Are you an outdoorsy person?
Yes, definitely an outdoorsy person. I’ve always been inspired by the natural world and the Australian landscape in particular. I’ve always loved drawing flora and fauna, maybe because I love the patterns and textures. I’ve always been drawn to things that are a bit eerie – like creepy insects, desolate landscapes and strange plants. My drawings are rarely scientifically-accurate; there are often some surreal elements in there, as I’m more interested in capturing a sense of the place rather than creating a realistic representation.
4. Tell us about a piece of your work that holds particularly fond memories and why?
Probably my magpie tee… I actually first designed it for a uni assignment a few years ago, and just made one for myself, so then to be making and selling them a few years later is pretty weird!
5. What is the best advice you have received, and what advice would you give to young designers?
Don’t try and design for what you think other people will want / buy… Just trust your gut and try to design stuff that you would love to wear. And keep it simple – don’t try to do too much at once – just focus on doing a few pieces really well.
6. What does being Australian mean to you, and how much does this influence your creativity – consciously or subconsciously?
I’m really interested in the ways that art/design/music can create or reflect a sense of place – especially in this day and age when we can communicate with the other side of the world instantly. The Australian identity is extremely complex and multifaceted – but in a creative sense, I think there is something unique about the art/design/music that comes out of Australia, and I think a lot of that is due to our isolation – we have some extremely unique landscapes and native flora + fauna to draw inspiration from – but also in my experience as a designer I feel pretty removed from the long-standing traditions of fashion hubs like Paris or Milan, which perhaps gives me more of a ‘blank canvas’ to create from.
7. How has your work evolved since you began your own label?
Heaps! When I first started the label I didn’t really have any solid plans for it – I’ve only been doing it for about 6 months but I’m still just making it up as I go. I think it has evolved a lot in that short time though – at first I thought I’d only be making things with printed silk, whereas now I’m also working with some other fibres like linen, and some plain colours, and thinking about new styles and ways to experiment with the fabric structurally.
8. What are the key elements for you when designing a collection?
It’s important to me that people can get a lot of wear out the pieces – that they don’t become something that just sits in a wardrobe because you can never find an outfit that goes with it… So with all of my pieces I’ve tried to make them as wearable as possible – they can be dressed up or dressed down, you can wear the tops and bottoms together or with other pieces, they are trans-seasonal and not trend-based (so at least in Sydney you can wear them pretty much year-round with different layers)… I’ve only done one collection so far, but I wanted the styles to be simple / minimal / functional. By having simple styles I was also able to go nuts with the prints. I also tried to find the best quality fabrics to work with, everything being 100% silk or 100% linen.
9. Is there anything that concerns you about the fashion industry nowadays? Where do you feel you fit in this world?
Unfortunately there are a lot of things that concern me about the fashion industry nowadays… With the rise of fast fashion, we’re producing and consuming clothing faster and cheaper than ever before. There is constant pressure to keep up with the latest trend, and there are so many clothes available for $5, $10, $20 – so consumers end up just buying things without putting that much thought into it, and then only wearing it a few times before it falls apart or goes out of fashion. It’s easy to get caught up in this cycle without putting any thought into what the clothes are made of, who made the clothes or the conditions and impacts of the production. If you’re buying a piece of clothing for $10, it’s safe to assume that the person making that item was paid less than 50c and was working in pretty terrible conditions, as garment factories cut corners in order to keep up with the demand for cheaper and cheaper clothing. This is how disasters like the Rana Plaza Collapse happen, in which over 1000 Bangladeshi garment workers lost their lives. There are also extremely negative environmental impacts associated with fast fashion, as companies opt for the cheapest production in order to produce the cheapest garment, without considering the implications on the natural environment that may come with the process. Documentaries like The True Cost and movements like Fashion Revolution Week are doing an excellent job of bringing this issue into the spotlight – I would definitely recommend everyone check these out.
On the plus side though, there is a growing movement of designers and consumers who are trying break this cycle, by creating garments in the most ethical and sustainable conditions they can. By opting for organic + natural fibres, fair-trade materials, fair labour conditions and/or local production, both designers and consumers can support a system that is trying to do good, rather than contributing to a system that exploits humans and the environment. Especially in the last few years, the number of small, independent labels that are producing locally, ethically and sustainably has increased dramatically, which is really exciting and inspiring. Consumers are beginning to question the way their clothes were made, and there are heaps of better options available. This is where I aim to fit into the fashion industry, as all of my clothes are printed and made in Sydney from 100% silk or 100% linen. I’m constantly looking for ways to make my label more sustainable, and am currently exploring different sustainably grown fibres and eco-dyes to use in future collections. My clothes are designed and made to last, rather than designed according to the latest trends (I’m not even sure what the latest trends are…) and my packaging is all made from recycled materials.
10. Can you tell us something that most people don’t know about you?
I have an instagram account of sloth cartoons that I’ve drawn in snapchat… it’s pretty weird hahaha… it’s called Slothchats.
11. How would you describe yourself in three words?
Really Likes Chocolate.
12. We know why we love working with you! What do you look for in a digital printer?
When I first started, I knew that I wanted to get my fabric printed locally, and I wanted it to be digitally printed on natural fibres – as well as obviously being excellent quality. I love learning about the process, so being able to go in to the studio to see the samples, colour tests and process is really amazing. It’s also really important to me that my fabric can be printed locally so I can ensure that everyone who is involved with my production has safe and fair working conditions.
13. What’s the big dream?
Hmmmm… I think my dream would be to design a weird and wacky outfit for someone like Bjork to wear on stage.