EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview with Aroha Langley

Please share a bit about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career.

Well, I come from a huge family and most of them are creatives - carvers, performing artists, designers etc - so I think growing up I always knew I’d be doing something like this. My Nan in particular was a maker and actually taught me what I know in terms of how to knit, how to thrift, how to mend things, basically how to turn nothing into something really beautiful. Fashion design was always going to be THE career choice for me, or at least now, a very, very stimulating and expensive hobby 😊

I know you are studying at at the Melbourne Fashion Institute. Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What do you find easy? What is a challenge?

Everything is a challenge! Finding the balance between homelife, running a business and studying, ensuring my garments and styling is polished and refined and doesn’t look like something that’s been pulled from a Salvos store rack, even making sure I stay true to my ethos and aesthetic as a designer, it’s all hard, but I love it.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you, or do you plan to, offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

Right now, I’d describe my aesthetic as clean, androgynous and urban. I love working with simple silhouettes and then referencing some of the loud, iconic trends of the 90’s. All of my garments are made from sustainable fibres and recycled fabrics and where possible, I’ll adopt zero-waste construction techniques. The pieces I create are unique, handmade and in most cases, one-off items, so I think at this stage, the extent of my output would definitely be custom work.

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson and Dalija Vlahov. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

All the time. I ALWAYS thrift and alter or re-style my personal looks, especially when I have an event planned. Actually, most of my assessments to date are based on upcycled garments. I find way more satisfaction, creatively and ethically, when reusing something that already exists.

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

My runway look is inspired by Korean streetwear, combining colours & prints that aren’t typically well matched but I think do work in creating a punchy, statement look.

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you and what you offer (or hope to offer) the world of fashion?

Definitely to help promote that being fashionable doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag, either on the environment or the pocket. There is an opportunity, especially for new designers, to encourage sustainable fashion, and I think in a sense we actually have a responsibility to do so.

What's next for you? What are your long term dreams?

I think the idea of collaborating with other designers and creatives is a pretty exciting concept - exchanging ideas, working around differences of opinion, understanding someone else’s design ethos and creative process.With that in mind, I’d LOVE to collaborate with local Aboriginal artists, maybe create some inspired prints that remind us of stories of an old Australia.

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