Be Right Back
As an emerging fashion designer and student, this interest drove me to spend time researching and writing on the relationship between costume, play, performance and identity. I considered the various ways that clothing has a crucial relationship to identity; the beauty of costumes is that they recognise the possibility of many different shifting identities, thus opening up a lighter, more playful dialogue between clothing, wearer and those who perceive them. There is also an honesty, or directness, that comes with costume design; in acknowledging the deceit of the performance, you also recognise the deliberate ways that we all ‘dress up’ as characters in the world.
However, by the time I finished Honours in fashion at RMIT while working in fashion for three years, I found myself disenfranchised and burnt out. I saw myself and the people around me pushing our health and mental wellbeing to the limit under an immense pressure to create something ‘new’.I was creating work that was ‘original’ but which I didn’t like, and wouldn’t wear. It was difficult to feel excited about my work, because it didn’t reflect my values or ideas of what fashion could be.
At the same time, I was grappling with those features of fashion design that have, unfortunately, come to define the industry over recent years -- a fast pace and constant appetite for new products that destroys our environment, stifles creativity and affects the relationships we have with clothes. I felt frustrated that young designers were the ones left agonising over these issues even as their impact was dwarfed by the environmental damage caused by big brands and fast fashion. Disillusioned, I explored other avenues of costume, styling and visual merchandising. Although I never strayed too far from fashion, I was sure that I didn’t want a label.
Yet over many long days in lockdown, I came back to this idea of starting a label that reflects my values. This is when Be Right Back was born. Clothing that is not only ethically made and attuned to the environmental impact of its production, but also honest, comfortable and playful. A brand that seeks to facilitate memories and excitement around garments that can last over time.
This is not a total overhaul of the fashion industry today, but rather a personal, local attempt to foster relationships between designer, clothing and consumer that are fun and direct at their core.