Threading together a future of sustainable fashion

March 25, 2023 BY

We the Makers, first Designer Showcase in 2020. Photos: SUPPLIED

THE National Wool Museum is on the search for authentic designers committed to sustainable practice.

Applications have now opened for the museum’s We the Makers program, a biennial event centred around the Sustainable Fashion Prize.

The prize awards four Australian Designers, with two entries sharing the top prize of $10,000, and all shortlisted garments to go on display at the National Wool Museum Designer Showcase.

Both Australian and international artists with less than ten years industry experience are eligible to apply. Photos: SUPPLIED


National Wool Museum director Padraic Fischer said the program builds on Geelong’s history as an internationally recognised City of Design and quality in the wool and textile industries.

“These kinds of programs are near and dear to our heart, and we want to be part of not just telling the past of Geelong but being an active part of what Geelong will be,” Fischer said.

“We believe that heritage has one foot in the past, history, and one foot in the future, legacy, and we want to be that for the Geelong community.

“So how do we build on that into the future? We look at sustainable fashion and we support people who are really working very hard to change the world we live in today.

“And we started to ask, how do we engage with the community as an institution that’s devoted to wool, fibre, textile and fashion and also embrace the City’s designation as a UNESCO creative city and City of Design?

“We think that the We the Makers the Sustainable Fashion Prize brings that all together.”

Every two years the program showcases emerging themes from the world of sustainable fibre and textiles through the next generation of fashion designers.

Outfits will be judged by a panel of industry professionals against their ability to design and redefine sustainable and ethical textiles.

Entries for the prize will remain open until April 16, with the exhibition opening and awards scheduled for June 1 2023. Photo: SUPPLIED


This year entries will respond to the categories: material innovation, circular process innovation, design innovation or business innovation.

“There has been a lot of work done over the last ten years around sustainability in fashion. The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, there’s hundreds of tonnes of waste developed annually.

“There is a lot of work being done in Geelong… about ‘what’s the next step in sustainability in the fashion industry?’.

“And we believe that artists and makers need to be paid for the work that they do… This is how we as a city do that.”

Fischer said designers both in Australia and abroad with less than ten years’ industry experience are eligible to apply, from students to individuals beginning their design practise, to well-known designers.

“We’re really are interested in engaging with established or up and coming designers so we’re looking at how do we turn the fashion industry upside down.

“Anyone who wants to be in the space where they are creating usable, wearable fashion… that also reduces the human impact on the environment and reduces waste and is sustainable… we think anyone and everyone who wants to be in that space should apply.

“And for someone starting a business or career, this is a significant impact for them, and we would like to have a relationship with that individual going forward.”

Entries are open now until April 16, with the exhibition opening and awards scheduled for June 1, 2023.