Australian designer Tess Whitfort brings her trademark streetwear edge and groundbreaking zero waste pattern techniques, which had seasoned designers and manufacturers spellbound, into the heart of The R Collective with the release of her much-anticipated ‘Avoidance’ Collection.
Having stormed to victory in The Redress Design Award 2018 cycle with her daring competition collection of grunge, streetwear-inspired looks, this style-chameleon then creatively adapted her catwalk looks into her timeless 'Avoidance' collection in line with The R Collective aesthetic. This was all captured in Frontline Fashion 3, a digital series hosted by supermodel Cara G Mcilroy.
Tess’ six-piece collection features a aviation inspired jumpsuit, alongside the experimental Preston Dress with adjustable belted detailing and classic retro varsity style jacket, which all feature unique twists on classic designs. In partnership with award-winning sustainable manufacturer, TAL Group, Tess’ zero waste pattern techniques brought about groundbreaking fabric utilisation during manufacturing, with several of her styles achieving less than one percent fabric wastage, compared with an industry norm of 15%. Her collection is formed of upcycled denim, crepe, wool and cotton, which were rescued from world-leading luxury brands, mills and manufacturers, thereby avoiding the need to create virgin materials and minimising fashion’s negative environmental impacts.
When asked about the name 'Avoidance', Tess said, "The Collection is all about ‘avoiding’ waste through zero-waste pattern cutting and upcycling deadstock textiles. The word ‘avoidance’ also resonates with me on a personal level because I’ve struggled with anxiety my whole life and avoidance is my biggest coping method and mind trap. So the concept of avoidance is something that I’ve had to overcome a lot in order to be where I am now. Creating a collection called ‘Avoidance’ therefore feels quite cathartic."
True to Tess’ dynamic and honest nature, her collection also hopes to pave a new way for the perception of sustainable fashion.
“There’s a lot of stereotypes around sustainable fashion and around the kinds of people who are interested in it. Sustainable fashion is often portrayed as natural, feminine, and wholesome. I want to create edgy, grungy streetwear so that badasses can wear ethical clothing too. Environmental issues are going to affect us all, so sustainability can’t just be for people who love the environment, it can’t be a niche, it needs to be for everyone.”
Tess, who has a degree in Fashion Design from Australia’s Box Hill Institute and lives in Melbourne, is also a passionate vegan and is deeply reflective about environmental issues.
“I used to feel that fashion was a little superficial. Purely focusing on aesthetics feels like missing something. Sustainability gives it more meaning and allows fashion design to be so much more than just creating clothing. To me, being a sustainable designer means being a bit of a rebel and not being afraid to break the mold and try new things. Instead of just designing something that looks great, it involves deeper thought into how the design functions and interacts with the environment.”