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Amelia Turner is rapidly gaining recognition as one of Sydney’s up-and-coming fashion designers, despite being yet to make her first dollar in fashion. She uses recycled materIals, asking friends and family to donate old clothes for her to pull apart and reuse as fabric. The fact that Amelia hasn’t officially started a brand hasn’t stopped a myriad of stylists and influencers from lining up to wear her pieces. Her work has been featured in publications like Fashion Journal and Berlin’s KALTBLUT Magazine, and were coveted at Fashion Week earlier this year when Sydney retro-maximalist icon Millie Sykes rocked up in an Amelia Turner fit.

Clockwise from top left: Amelia in By Amelia Turner pants; Akira Darlington in By Amelia Turner jumper shot by Connor Sprague; Cat Strat in By Amelia Turner pants shot by Cristofer Palmer; Akira Darlington in By; Amelia Turner top, bag and pants shot by Connor Sprague; Amelia Turner shot by Connor Sprague; Cat Strat in By Amelia Turner suit and hat shot by Cristofer Palmer

Interview with Josie Lu

How would you describe your aesthetic? 


I describe it as sketchy and messy with an emphasis on emotional textile. I say sketchy and messy, because that's the way I draw. And then I often try to emulate what I've drawn, because that kind of loose, organic style — and the spontaneity that comes with that — is so great to bring into the physical world. I push myself to design things that I often see as incorrect or that don't work together or mismatch. I think that's the best way for me to design something unexpected and new. 


What do you mean by “emotional textiles”?


Whether you're tired or stressed or have gone through a heartbreak, it's the same as art, you need to channel that through what you're creating. And that always shows up in your work. If I'm in a bad mood, and I start drawing something, sometimes it ends up being a really moody drawing, and that ends up being quite authentic. I see that in other designers as well. Like, if you're telling a story, and you're bringing your own personal experiences into what you're making, that's really authentic and beautiful.


What do you hope to achieve with your designs?


I honestly just want to make clothes that my friends and my family and I would like to wear. I think it's such a great success when people you know want to put your clothes on their bodies, and they want to show it off and they want to wear it. There’s so much waste in the fashion industry right now; it’s things that aren’t necessary or aren’t practical. For me, it’s just like, we don’t need that. I'd rather someone actually appreciate the beauty of my work and want to wear it.


What’s the most challenging thing about studying and working in fashion?


It's really hard work, man. Everyone who's in fashion is obsessed with it. It's not just a job or a degree, you know, like, we don't switch off when we get home. When I get home what I want to do is go on Instagram, check what my favourite designer has done today, and all those sorts of things. This often means that we can get too connected to our work to a point where it can get a bit unhealthy. I can't walk down the street and not analyse what someone’s wearing. You know?


Yeah, I can imagine! Now, your latest Honours project you’ve described as “a men's collection and textile inquisition into responsible making in the midst of a climate emergency”. What do you think about the future of fashion and the role sustainability plays in it? I think that's a really big topic right now.


It is a very big topic, and it's also something that's really important to talk about. Reworking the current systems operating in the fashion industry is necessary for reducing the impacts of the industry on our earth. And there's so many facets to this, but I know it's about research and honest communication between companies and the consumers. It involves businesses re-evaluating their own values and processes too; making sure their contributions are meaningful and have a positive impact, because we shouldn't be making so much when we already have so much.


What about your goals and plans for post-graduation? Do you have anything exciting in the works?


Fashion wise, I am looking to collaborate with my friends by doing a pop-up exhibition with a series of installations. We did one last year with a few graduating students. We designed this week-long installation space with photos and physical clothes as well. But I think it'd be really nice to collaborate with people who aren't just in fashion because I say my work is more than just clothes. Sometimes it's also an artwork, a political statement, or a conversation starter. And I think art, including music, are great things in that way. And so it would be really nice to work with sculptors or poets and other artists for an exhibition. We're in the process of talking to friends at the moment to make this happen.

If you were feeling uninspired, where in Sydney would you go to find inspiration?


I'd put two places for this one. First is White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale — it’s a really cool gallery across the road from uni where I would always go if I was feeling uninspired. It features this super modern Chinese art, and they have installations, video works and everything. The other place is called Reverse Garbage, and it’s the recycling centre in Marrickville. It’s really cheap and a cool place to find recycled materials, so I always go there. 

Biggest piece of advice you wish you could tell your younger self?


Trust your instinct — not all opinions are what you need to hear. It’s obviously really important to listen to other people’s ideas, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut. 

Who do you think is the most exciting young and emerging creative in Sydney?

Maya Barnstone



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Easy bucket hat sewing pattern by Amelia for PUSH

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