Climate change hits the fashion runway

It’s climate change fashion – Taungurung and Djaara artist Cassie Leatham, from the Kulin Nation in south-central Victoria, had changing climate at the forefront of her mind as she designed her latest Yanggurdi label collection.

Leatham, an artist and master weaver, describes Yanggurdi as: “wearable art and an important way of carrying on the journey of her ancestors.”

Yanggurdi means “walkabout” in Taungurung language, and Leatham’s design practice involves a close connection to Country.

The wearability of clothes plays a big part in her new collection and Leatham says she has been inspired by “everyday lifestyle.”

“Just because the seasons change doesn’t mean your style has to,” she says.

“I’ve created these beautiful block prints of symbols, fine lines, details, metallics but also, of course, my weaving journey.”

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Leatham harvests lomandra and other native grasses for weaving before piecing together items to be worn. It’s become a staple part of her designs and her new collection is an evolution of her previous collection.

“My signature lomandra print has evolved. It’s shown on a couple of the other designs like tops, not just the pants or bathers or the bags,” Leatham said.

“It’s actually on T-shirts and crop tops and windcheaters now.

“It crosses over from the first collection into the second but with a bit of mixture and a bit more movement with the designs.”

Leatham’s use of native grasses has given her an understanding of how climate change is affecting the land.

“Every time I go out to get a particular plant, the seasons are changing and things aren’t coming out when they normally come out,” says Leatham.

“This is showcased in my works as well, we have to start looking after our native wildlife and our plants.

“Because it’s heating up, it’s cooling down, we’ve got floods, we’ve got fires, there’s so much happening and people are oblivious to it.”

Leatham says the latest collection reflects her concerns.

“Landfill clothing is just one of the biggest disasters ever,” she says. “I don’t want to make a footprint with Yanggurdi and add to that landfill of wasted fashion for no purpose.

“This is what it’s about for me, fashion is great and design is great, but we’ve got to think about sustainability for the future.”

Leatham’s designs are on display at Melbourne Museum as part of the Future/History exhibition. .

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