In the realm where fashion intertwines with sustainability, a captivating narrative unfolds – that of Emily Craig, a beacon of inspiration within Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA). In this exclusive interview, we embark on a voyage through time, tracing Emily’s transformative journey from her first steps onto EFWA’s runway to her present role as a visionary fashion designer.
From the early days of EFWA, where Emily first graced the stage, to her current position as the inaugural designer for EFWA 2024, her story reflects the very essence of what EFWA stands for – a harmonious blend of creativity, innovation, and a profound commitment to sustainability. Join us as we unravel the chapters of Emily’s evolution, each page adorned with insights into her experiences, inspirations, and aspirations within the realm of sustainable fashion.
Can you take us back to when you first started with Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) as a model in 2017? How did you get involved, and what was your initial experience like?
I was 15 when I went to a model casting for EFWA’s first show in Fremantle in 2017. It was an eye-opener into what fashion and design could be – this was my first runway experience and I felt part of a bigger purpose and felt at home.
EFWA has a strong focus on sustainable fashion. How has being a part of this event influenced your perspective on fashion and sustainability?
Before EFWA I was aware of the effects of the fashion industry and its cost on the environment. When I was introduced to EFWA and met Zuhal and other designers, hearing them talk about their practice and seeing their collections opened my eyes to how diverse sustainable fashion can be whilst being unique and fashionable. I’ve really tried to embed this into my practice, viewing multiple aspects, not just what fabrics are used, but storytelling, design concepts, and how to present your collection.
As a young fashion design graduate, how has your journey with EFWA shaped your career aspirations and design philosophy?
The EFWA ethos has always been with me throughout my studies – sustainability being the core of any of my decisions. There is an emphasis on having your own individual voice but also being a part of a team and a larger conversation. EFWA has a profound balance of that and has shaped how I balance that within my own design philosophy.
What specific aspects of EFWA’s mission and values have resonated with you the most, and how have they inspired your work as a fashion designer?
Not being afraid to be non-traditional. Adapting and having the confidence to do so and be better, for the sake of our environment.
EFWA has been known to provide a platform for emerging designers to showcase their talent. How has this opportunity impacted your growth and development as a designer?
It’s amazing to have this event in Australia. EFWA has always placed emphasis on emerging designers and I’ve seen that from the very start. EFWA gave me the courage and the dedication to start my growth as a designer. EFWA inspired me to focus my studies on fashion way back in high school where I made a garment from recycled materials as a canvas for my painting. I showed this, my first piece, with EFWA at Dowerin Field Days. It gave me the confidence to say ‘Yes I can actually do this’, and I applied to study a Bachelor of Design, majoring in Fashion at ECU.
Could you share a memorable moment or experience you’ve had during your time with EFWA that stands out as particularly inspiring or influential?
I remember after our show in 2019, we all got on the stage to celebrate the week-long event and everyone behind the scenes – models, designers, volunteers – the energy of the EFWA family was and is always so high! So much support and love was on that stage that night – it still inspires me today.
As the first designer for EFWA 2024, how does it feel to be a part of the event from both the modeling and now design perspectives?
Surreal! I feel like I’m growing alongside EFWA, and I’m so honoured to continue to be a part of it!
Sustainability is at the core of EFWA’s ethos. How do you plan to incorporate sustainable practices and values into your designs for EFWA 2024?
Through my studies and time with EFWA, I believe the most fundamental way to start to view cloth is through meaningful storytelling – to essentially make and wear with purpose. My inspiration for my collection is a reflection, a memory of my childhood. I revisit my memories as a child along the coast of the West. Subtle imagery of shells, seaweed, and organic silhouettes alludes to a liminal space.
My garments are a ‘pod’ that carries these memories of childhood and are between time. They envelop me and connect then and now- yet it is continuously moving, growing, transforming. Same with how I spend time with my garments – I manipulate them and enhance them – the act of devoree, printing multiples of my imagery back over-dyed cloth, laser cutting intricate patterns, stitching over print, and stitching beads. All of these make me spend time with my garments, strengthening an act of habitus – my connection with cloth and my own collection.
What message or impact do you hope to convey through your designs at EFWA 2024, both in terms of fashion and sustainability?
A message being the making and consuming with purpose and the integrity to reuse and reimagine. That has always been an integral message with EFWA and applies to both fashion and sustainability.
As someone who started with EFWA as a young model and is now a designer for the event, what advice would you give to aspiring young designers who wish to make a positive impact in the fashion industry?
Think kindly and be brave! You have to be true to yourself in every aspect of this industry, keep your uniqueness, treat and respect fellow artists and resources, and don’t be afraid to be innovative.
How do you see your future evolving within the sustainable fashion space, and how will your journey with EFWA continue to influence your path ahead?
Within the sustainable fashion space, always adapting and growing is fundamental but also staying true to your roots and your own story, to keep creating with purpose and not lose that. This is how the circular mind works, always revolving and morphing from one center point. To be a part of the EFWA family and see other designers work like this, and to learn and share with them is always going to continue to influence my path ahead.
EFWA aims to inspire and promote young designers. What do you hope your involvement in EFWA will bring to the next generation of fashion enthusiasts and eco-conscious individuals?
I hope my involvement in EFWA as a designer, adds to the urgency for a change in the way we view fashion. I hope that the next generations see EFWA’s family and strong ethos living in the people involved and inspire them the way it inspired me from first being involved when I was 15.