Fashion is many things to many people, for some it is highly functional – something to keep you warm or protected – for others it is art that you wear. However, the role of the fashion designer is now as much about technology as craft, melding high aesthetic quality with durability and sustainability.
Australia’s Donna Sgro is no stranger to this new world. After originally completing an arts degree majoring in art history, theory and philosophy Sgro turned her attentions to fashion design and graduated from Sydney’s University of Technology in 2007 with First Class Honours.
Since then her life has been a whirlwind of awards, ventures and colourful creations exemplifying the designer’s environmental sensitivities.
She was the recipient of the Design Institute of Australia’s Graduate of the Year in 2006 and won the Best New Apparel award at Fashion Exposed in Melbourne a year later closely followed by the launch of her own label, Donna Sgro.
Five collections and a playful accessories range ensued including the latest selection of frocks and garments, Octopus’s Garden which was exhibited in Paris during September.
Most recently Sgro won a fabric sponsorship for Octopus’s Garden and was one of only five fashion labels chosen from a worldwide pool, to participate in the first SHINMAI Creator’s Project at the 8th Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo, sponsored by the Japan Fashion Week Organisation.
Sgro says her design aesthetic has strong ties to new and contemporary textiles and she is inspired to use fabrics that have strong tactile and imaginative qualities and are also in tune with environmental sustainability.
“One fabric I used for (Octopus’s Garden) is called Morphotex, and by a method of nanotechnology, eliminates the need for fabric dyeing. The creation of colour in the Morphotex fibre is made instead by a method which mimics the effect of light reflections in a Blue Morpho Butterfly wing, an effect which engages technology to produce a more sustainable fabric.
“For my jersey range I also use a lot of Tencel fibre, which is a wood pulp fibre created using a closed-loop system and fully biodegradable. I also screen-print my textile designs with a local manufacturer who uses water-based pigments,” she says.
The designer is currently working on new styles for her Paddington market stalls and describes her work as “localised” and “responsive to the environment”.
“Longer term I have a research plan in the area of sustainability and transformable garments that I am starting to map out (at the) beginning of 2010,” she says.
“I am working towards finding ways to create garments that engage with issues of sustainability throughout their entire life-cycle.”