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Textiles are intricately interlaced with fashion, giving texture, drape, feel, detail and color to garments. In Australia, tracing the place of textiles in the fashion industry presents a complex story of materials, individual designers, studio practices, commercial production, textiles, art, craft and design. Overwhelmingly, makers of textiles for fashion have shown a desire to represent Australia, its character and spirit in cloth.
This paper documents research into how textiles have been designed and made for fashion over the last six decades, focusing on designers whose practice specializes in fashion fabrics. Many of these artists and designers gained experience overseas, returning with specialist knowledge and skills; others were highly skilled immigrants who believed that Australia presented opportunities and a new horizon after World War II; while more recently, individual designer makers and Aboriginal artists have created bold and expressive designs for the industry. All were telling a story with designs that they believed captured the essence of this country, defining its character through design, color, pattern, line, texture, image and shape. These designers have introduced new design practices and developed innovative approaches or new technologies - all are exploring the relationship between practice, design, and the environment.