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Brisbane’s Practice Studio on the importance of alterations, community and deadstock fabrics

PHOTOGRAPHER – SEAMUS PLATT
MAKEUP – SARAH SMITH
MODEL – GOLDA GUIDO
INTERVIEW BY EMMA-KATE LEWIS

Now more than ever.

Not too long ago, a new space opened on Brisbane’s Winn Lane. Practice Studio hosted a composite retail store and workroom, inviting consumers to bring in their current wardrobe pieces for alterations and repairs, and to explore new works from emerging, sustainable designers.

Now operating online and in-store by appointment, the space offers seasonless collections, limited edition art-fashion pieces and short runs of garments and accessories made from headstock fabrics. Sustainability and a slow-fashion mindset is at the core of the space.

With this conscious approach to fashion now more important than ever, Brisbane-based writer Emma-Kate Lewis spoke with head of the studio, Kat Walsh, to dive deeper into the Practice Studio approach.

Can you tell me about your background and how Practice Studio came to be?

It was always a dream of mine throughout university; something that I thought needed to happen. I studied art when I left school, then moved into fashion. After graduating, I began working in costume, which is where I learnt how to do alterations. I had the idea of combining a shop and a studio so that people could get a sense of what goes on behind the scenes and why clothes should be valued more than they are. Practice Studio is just that: a combined workroom and store. We sell work from emerging designers, and we also do alterations and custom dressmaking in-store.

How did you get it up and running?

It started with an email to Arthur [the owner of Fortitude Valley shopping mall, Winn Lane], saying, “I have this idea, would you be interested in hosting us?” He thought it was great, so we got a space in Winn Lane pretty quickly. At first, I had to juggle working full-time and at the store, but then I was able to finish up with my job in costume and focus completely on the shop. And it’s just taken off. It’s been really community-led, there’s so much support that’s allowed us to grow.

How are your views on sustainable fashion reflected in Practice Studio?

In our mindset and in our attitudes towards fashion and waste. I’m interested in getting people to make considered choices when they shop, by showing them what goes on behind the scenes; the making process and how labour-intensive it is. Beyond that, a lot of the designers we stock are using more sustainable fabrics and even experimenting with ideas such as zero waste, where deadstock fabrics are used, and no piece of fabric is thrown away when their garments are cut. There are a whole bunch of approaches we’re using, but shifting mindsets is the main one.

What are deadstock fabrics?

They’re fabrics that have been used by designers who’ve ordered a surplus of material and have no use for it, so it gets sold on again to a consumer. It basically means we’re not making any new materials to create our garments. It prevents us from making more stuff than we need to, because we’re using what we already have available to us. Another advantage of working with people locally is that we can make to order. We don’t have a surplus of stock at the end, people can get things customised to fit them… It’s all a lot more sustainable.

Tell me more about the community you’re a part of and the designers you work with.

A lot of us are from Brisbane. We’ve also got some designers from interstate and one international designer. We’ve approached each other because we have similar values. It’s really brought in such a great community of customers too, because people want to support these designers. It’s a great network that comes together.

What’s one change you’d like to see consumers make when it comes to shopping for clothing?

Think of Vivienne Westwood’s quote: buy less and buy better. Make a considered decision and invest in something you love and will keep. It makes you feel better, and it’s better for the planet.

Practice Studio offers repairs and alterations so that you can prolong the life of those loved items, right?

Completely! For some people, the ability to repair is a revelation, like ‘Oh, you can really do that?!’ You have a sense of ownership over what’s yours again. You realise that your clothes are designed to be fixed, and that there are people around who have the skills to fix them.

What’s next for you and for Practice Studio?

I’ve been thinking about where we go next… Whether it’s more of a menswear focus or we open another space that’s completely dedicated to recycled clothing and alterations, it’s really exciting, and I want to keep watching it expand.

practicestudio.online

Emma-Kate Lewis is a Brisbane-based writer and editor whose work has been published by the likes of Voiceworks, Commonwealth Writers and Hot Chicks with Big Brains.


Styling credits

LOOK ONE
BULLEY BULLEY RUFFLE HALTER AND RUFFLE PANTS, SOFT STUD EARRINGS
LOOK TWO
KAT WALSH SCREEN PRINTED DRESS AND ASYMMETRICAL SKIRT
LOOK THREE
BULLEY BULLEY JACKET AND PANTS
LOOK FOUR
BULLEY BULLEY RUFFLE, LOU YOUNG BLOUSE, TALENT’S OWN JEANS
ALL CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES FROM PRACTICE STUDIO
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