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Sydney label Clover Cutler is embracing ugliness with its small-run designs

IMAGE VIA JAMIE HEATH/INSTAGRAM

WORDS BY KATE STREADER

“I hope Clover communicates that not everything has to be nice or tasteful to be beautiful.”

Growing up, Hetty Cutler was exposed to fashion design through her mum. But despite learning her way around a sewing machine at an early age, she pursued art before launching her label Clover Cutler.

Still in its infancy, Clover Cutler operates primarily online, offering one-off and small-run designs showcased and sold on Instagram. It’s through social media platforms like Instagram that Hetty keeps an eye on the local design scene and exciting new up-and-comers.


For more fashion news, shoots, articles and features, head to our Fashion section. 


Clover Cutler pieces are designed to catch attention, even if the initial reaction isn’t positive. And draw you in they do, with the label offering deconstructed garments, pieces with unconventional cut-outs, imperfectly hand-dyed logos and imagery, exposed seams, and mish-mash prints.

We caught up with her to find out more about her label, what she’s learnt since launching it and which designers inspire her.

Tell us about you. What’s your fashion background? 

I grew up with my mum teaching textiles at TAFE, which was super intriguing as I child. I was obsessed with the reference drawings she did for her students of all these gorgeous girls wearing her designs. I grew up always drawing and learnt to sew/embroider at a really young age because my mum is the most creative person I know – I was probably just copying her.

Apart from that, I’m relatively new to fashion. I went to the National Art School for three years, studying painting, which has definitely inspired my obsession with stencils and dye work. But I actually haven’t studied fashion yet. I’m planning on going to TAFE in 2023 to study textiles and design, which is going to be interesting, learning how to cut patterns and probably re-learn a lot of the things I’ve taught myself via YouTube.

How did the label get started? Talk us through the process and the challenges. 

 

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A post shared by Hetty (@clovercutler)

I originally started Clover at the end of my third year at art school. My first ever pop-up was at the gallery me and my two best friends were running at the time, Pink Place. I literally can’t even look back at the pieces because it makes me cringe so hard. It has been a very slow process for me and I have let myself take it really slow because I have a habit of having obsessive interests and them burning out. Thankfully Clover has stuck with me for two years now, which is the longest I’ve shown interest in anything, so I’m so proud of myself for being persistent.

How would you describe Clover Cutler designs to someone who’s never seen them before?

 

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I LOVE ‘ugly’ – I think most of the clothing I wear these days I either hate at first or I think it’s ugly, and then those pieces turn out to be my favourite items of clothing. I hope someone thinks that about one of my pieces. I hope Clover communicates that not everything has to be nice or tasteful to be beautiful.

Where did the name come from? 

The name doesn’t necessarily have a deep meaning, but four-leaf clovers and shamrocks were Celtic charms used for protection and to ward off bad luck, and I think if we can avoid bad luck we might as well be doing it fashionably. Also something fun I found out recently is the four clover leaves stand for faith, hope, love and luck, which I thought was super sweet. And Cutler is my last name, I thought the alliteration was cute.

What are you most proud of in your work on your label? 

 

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Probably my horse stuff at the moment, I’m just having so much fun with stencils and my knitting loom machine.

What do you wish you knew when you started? 

Honestly, this is all so new to me, so I don’t really know what I could tell myself because I’ve just properly started. But maybe to stop procrastinating because it only makes your life admin disproportionally harder.

Who do you think is most exciting in Australian fashion right now? 

 

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I am so, so excited about how many talented people from Australia I’m seeing on Instagram and social media, especially queer artists and creatives. Everyone is just riding their own waves and creating stunning and original works. I love this emerging knitwear scene at the moment, I feel like we are all bouncing off each other.

There’s this knitwear brand I’m obsessed with at the moment called AMC, that I have found really inspiring. We’re finally seeing more variety and diversity with these small upcoming designers and it feels like such a breath of fresh air compared to these big brands with cult followings.

What about the Australian fashion industry needs to change?

I’m just so sick of seeing big brands stealing from smaller brands, it’s so incredibly boring. And more representation of all kinds. And less trend-reliant fashion.

Dream Australian collaborators? 

Ok so they aren’t an Australian brand but my dream collaboration is with Elastoplast, I’ve collected their bandaids ever since I was little because my mum used to give me boxes in my stocking every year, so I would love to make Clover Cutler bandaids.

Also, my sister had a jewellery brand called Phoebe Cutler jewellery so it would be fun to create something as sisters, that would be very full circle.

Go-to dinner party playlist? 

Anything by Real McCoy.

Who is in your wardrobe right now? 

 

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I love Gimaguas, NiiHAi hair ribbons, Uniqlo tees, chunky keychains, and the piéce de résistance: my $100 Miu Miu bag.

How can we buy one of your pieces? 

I’m working on a website at the moment which will hopefully be up and running soon. But for now, all my stuff is sold via Instagram through DMs.

Shop Clover Cutler here
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