“Stories are the means by which we navigate the world” – George Monbiot
We’ve heard the word ‘story’ a lot this past year; storytelling, narrative, personal, global and even industry-specific. The idea that we are the authors of our own story could not resonate more with Gabi and I in the 15 months since we showed our last collection. Outwardly it might have appeared we’d stepped away from Coreprêt, but we’ve spent the last year refining our craft, navigating our own values in the industry (one historically based on growth at the expense of human and natural resources) and personal, deeply emotional reflections that have redefined what it is to be Coreprêt.
But I want to go even further back to where this story began. Both Gabi and I have had the privilege of growing up immersed in the natural wonders of the Australian landscape. For Gabi, it was the coastline of Western Australia and for me, the rugged shores of Victoria’s surf coast. From a young age, my memories revolve around camping, surfing, road trips and family stories we’ll keep private for now. I always had a fascination with nature, something derived from my surroundings, for a long time I wanted to be a palaeontologist or archaeologist, the thought of digging up history and having a deeper understanding of how things work was of great interest to me. I didn’t think I would end up being a fashion designer, but as I learn more and more about the role of a designer in our built world, the dots start to connect.
Jump forward to university where Gabi and I met, finding common ground on childhood memories, experiences and a strong interest in sustainable ways of living. I use the term sustainable loosely because it’s an enormous, all-encompassing term, but for us it is a way of living and has been cultivated in us from a young age by our families and our nurturing environments. We both explored up-cycling and artisanal techniques in our graduate collections, sourcing materials from local op shops, garbage tips or donations from friends and families. We took ownership over the cloth through craft-based practices including embroidery, screen printing, painting and embellishment. A theme that ran through both was in-depth research into the communicative power of fashion and the context in which we read it.
After completing the degree, we felt somewhat adrift, how could we put our practice into purpose? And from this Coreprêt was born, built on the belief that fashion can be a vessel for change, we wanted to contribute to the conversation surrounding a changing global industry and world.
Although we’ve put a pause on generating large scale collections, our first year and a half of business was an integral learning and developing curve. We created two collections we were immensely proud of that stayed true to our material-based methods. We explored themes and techniques associated with up-cycling, social norms and developed a very clear design aesthetic. We participated in industry events and competitions that exposed us and elevated our brand to heights we could not have predicted.
However, upon reflection we began to feel Coreprêt as a business was not flourishing, although we were using textiles from various waste streams to generate new life out of something destined for landfill, we couldn’t envision how we were going to participate as a business in the wider fashion and textile industry. This was the catalyst to a yearlong deep dive into who we are as designers and a business; why we do it, what we do and how we do it. It has taken us on a long journey, one with a strong focus on ethics, courage, accountability and leadership. We’ve spent time understanding the fashion and textile industry (globally and locally) researched the transition from linear to systems thinking and grappled with the concept of how to produce clothing whilst upholding personal ethics.
Fast forward to now. We have developed and are still prototyping a new business model, one that we hope can extend further than waste streams to build a full system approach towards design, innovation and community engagement, with the pillars of responsibility and trust at its core.
This time away to slow down and redefine our brand has also highlighted for us the importance of investing time and energy into the things we care about and allowed us the mental space to be creative thinkers again. Our new product – The Monday.03 Pant – is not only a reflection of our new manufacturing and sourcing processes but tells a deeper story about the female experience in the context of workplace settings. We collected data with a strong focus on what fashion items support confidence in the wearer, promote a healthy self-esteem and how we as designers can open up a conversation around the relationship between fashion and gender equality. A large proposition, and one we do not believe we have fully achieved through one pair of pants (that’s crazy!), but it is a start.
We listened, we designed and we hope through the introduction of this product we can generate further conversations and connections around this topic. We want to hear your stories, what garments inspire courage in you and help each other be leaders in a time when we so desperately need them.
More to come on this topic and many others. If you’d like to get in touch please do, we want to hear your stories, in particular, what your favourite pair of pants are? And what makes you feel comfortable and confident in your place of work, wherever that may be. You can email us here at firstname.lastname@example.org