Diversity on the Runway | SBS World News

Source: SBS

"While international mastheads like Vogue are certainly influential in shaping the industry, designer and small business owner Suzan Dlouhy believes there is a role for smaller players to add to the narrative.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t feel reflected in the fashion I saw. For me, now as an adult, I’m trying to reflect that back to the next generation,” she said.

“It’s a ground-up change. When small labels like myself start casting diverse models, and it gets press, that’s when the more mainstream brands realise they can do it too.”

Fashion labels Ten Pieces and SZN | The Saturday Paper

"The desire for a stripped back ‘uniform’ may speak to a catastrophic future but, it’s more about saving the present by simplifying choices and consuming less." By Alyx Gorman.

Checkout today's Saturday Paper which features a great piece on SZN and Sydney label Ten Pieces.  

Suzan Dlouhy, founder of five-year-old Melbourne label SZN, is also trying to create clothes “I would personally want to wear as a … uniform”. A former public servant who studied environmental management and policy before coming to fashion, Dlouhy’s collections are even smaller than 10 pieces – usually she’ll show between four and eight. She works with a single maker, and still creates one-off garments on a personal sewing machine. Scarcity is a central theme.
Each collection explores a different method of waste-reduction, from remaking second-hand clothes to using scraps left over by other fashion brands. Lately, she’s been working with organic cotton, trying to create patterns that use textiles as efficiently as possible. She’s “driven by process, not an aesthetic … I try and do everything to reduce it to its most simple form.” Yet the end point fits comfortably within the same dark aesthetic. “Often [my process] leaves you with a big voluminous shape. Sometimes … I’ve been so simplistic or minimal.” She talks about cutting things down, simplifying patterns. “I’ll realise, ‘Is that not … a pair of light drop-crotch pants just like ancient Indian garb? Did I just design myself back into a traditional garment?’ ”
As for her uniform, she avoids anything that clings to the underarms, “so I could wear it multiple times before I wash it”. She gravitates to “things that were black, so they didn’t look … dirty immediately”. For Dlouhy, reducing “laundry is a big factor in sustainability”.
In her runway shows, Dlouhy casts models “based on who they are” not their gender. With a background in one-off pieces, SZN’s output remains one-size-fits-most. Now mother to a four-month-old baby, she found “the fact that I could wear the same garment from the beginning to the end of my pregnancy was actually really good. I became my own test model for that size range.” Terzini’s take on gender is just as loose: “There’s no such things as women’s and men’s, in a way … the world is a bit freer, and a bit more loving these days.”
For both Dlouhy and Terzini, clothes are about grappling with the future. “The more conceptual you get … the further away from reality and the body shapes you get … you’re no longer trying to echo what the body can wear but looking at future ideas,” Dlouhy says.
At present, Dlouhy teaches sewing at The Social Studio in Melbourne to supplement her label. She also DJs for income – something Sydney fashion designers typically do for credibility, not cash. Ultimately, she would like SZN to become a full-time job. But making one’s output sustainable and one’s business sustainable are two very different challenges.
The irony, and beauty, of the end-of-the-world aesthetic coming back into fashion is that, for those who first dreamt it up in the 1980s, and their contemporary disciples, the style is about ending the cycle of fashion. Each collection bleeds back into the previous, and forward into the next. Visually, it speaks to a catastrophic future, but conceptually it’s about saving the present. This style asks us to shatter the gender binary. It asks us to consume less. To develop a simple, personal “uniform”. Fashion has taken an apocalyptic turn. Perhaps we’re trying to imagine this future in order to prevent it.



"This is fashion – Archer Magazine style. Three models who proudly identify as transgender or non-binary, a handful of inclusive brands, and one solid creative crew.
With us, diversity comes first, and that’s something we have in common with the brands, people and studios we work with. In this editorial, photographer Leila Koren plays with light and latex to showcase gender-diverse models as deities of our time, soaking up the spotlight they so deserve.
The thread between our models was confidence, pride and strength of identity, so we designed looks that would exemplify these traits, while showing off their individuality and sense of style.
We included some behind-the-scenes shots as a reminder that all images are constructed, and to show off our awesome crew.
The looks are fierce. The feeling is joyful. The result is reverent and radiant. We hope you enjoy it."

CREATIVE DIRECTORS Natasha Jynel + Alexis Desaulniers-Lea
HAIR + MAKE-UP Helena Regina Smythe
MODELS Priya, Lana Faye + Mama Alto
LOCATION Awesome Sauce Studios

ONCE MORE WITH FEELING VINTAGE @oncemorewithfeelingvintage

The hardest thing about ECO FASHION | ECO FRIENDLY FASHION

 Katie from Eco Friendly Fashion interviewed SZN, Thunderpants NZ, The Spotted Quoll and Hemp Authority, on our perspective of eco fashion, see the interview  here , or read SZN's answers below.

Katie from Eco Friendly Fashion interviewed SZN, Thunderpants NZ, The Spotted Quoll and Hemp Authority, on our perspective of eco fashion, see the interview here, or read SZN's answers below.

From your personal experience, what are the hardest aspects of running your business with sustainability in the forefront Vs profit? 
The cost of fabric is higher; brand representation and presence in commercial media limited; and access to educating the customer on the product is minimal. To counteract these aspects time and money can be spent to promote your business and consumer more, but its not always reflected in sales and or presence, so at present being sustainable is purely a personal motivation and basic standard, but I believe it informs my designs and practice, which makes SZN unique from other labels.

Which manufacturing practices do you see as the biggest environmental threats, and which do you try to avoid?
Mass production, especially for products that are not guaranteed purchases or their lifetime use determined. SZN has tried different approaches with each collection, and as more information on environmental impact surfaces has evolved. For example our first collection used only pre-consumer waste, the second upcycled post consumer waste and current collection organic fabric in zero waste design. New information regarding the discovery of micro-plastic shed over the life-cycle of synthetic garments has informed our move to ultimately use the least toxic textiles available. 

Do you believe that hiring labour in third world countries (upholding fair trade) is a positive thing? Or does come with its own social and environmental downfalls? 
If companies forge good transparent relationships that can be monitored and provide for a healthy lifestyle for all of their labour force then I see that the skills, traditions and existence of international labour markets as necessary for the fashion industry. Unfortunately Australia has a limited manufacturing capacity and has not been able to technologically evolve to meet the standards, capacity and or skills of countries that have maintained their manufacturing industries. I also prefer to not differentiate labour as from 'third world countries' since ethical labour practices are more nuanced and poor conditions can be just as apparent within more developed nations.

In your opinion, has fast fashion been created by consumer demand? Or is it an invention of the industry? 
No, fast fashion is a reflection of our times and lifestyles. Markets fail to account for the 'true cost' of resource-use, so they are able to be exploited without the impact considered in the pricing of the goods. Also the cost of living has changed dramatically so that disposable incomes must stretch to cover more. And marketing has targeted satisfying desire over the provision of quality goods from reputable companies.

Whose responsibility is it to change the attitude towards fashion consumption? Consumer? Manufacturer? Marketing companies? Bloggers? Social media influencers? Celebrities? 
It is all of our responsibility to make sure that we consider the impact of our behaviour towards consumption - we should be the change we need.

How interested are millennials in being environmentally and socially conscious? Do you think awareness has become better or worse over the past few generations? 
I'm really not sure, I feel that with the internet and individuals being able to best represent alternative views of the industry, awareness has increased. But at the same time the cost of products have dropped, marketing increased and populations grown so the environmental impact of our consumption has not reflected this increased awareness. Some people are not interested or informed of the impact of their purchases, so I still feel more needs to be done at the regulatory level to prevent markets from allowing business practices and resource use that is un-environmentally sound. 

If you could change one thing about the fashion industry on a world-wide scale, what would it be?
Costing of resources. The life-cycle of resources should be economically considered at the input stage, so that manufacturers and consumers are responsible for the whole life-cycle of a product, including its disposal.


  Source:   Leiden.

Source: Leiden.

"In its third Fashfest presentation, Melbourne based label SZN presented simple, intelligent designs in a neutral colour palate. All in one suits, loose tunics and draped coats were presented in multiple colourways and on both male and female models, demonstrating the genderless nature of these pieces. While looking simple at first glance, clever details such as large pockets, the folding and draping of fabrics, and play with proportion proved each piece to be anything but."


  Source:   Happy Schnapper
"SZN took minimalism to a whole new level with this their third appearance at Fashfest.  The colour palette was made up of white, black, grey.  Lines were crisp and clean with no embellishments, statements or detail of any nature other than the natural movement of the fabric.  The style of the garments were also very gender neutral with both female and male models wearing identical jumpsuits, and similar oversized tees, capes and harem pants.  The cut of some of the capes and jackets had a very distinct Japanese yukata feel.  A perfect collection for lovers of Japanese minimalism."


  Source:   Ink & Leathers
"I was incredibly excited to see that Suzan Dlouhy would be returning her label SZN to the Fashfest runway this year. As a label SZN is known to many as avant garde styling and a foundation of sustainable design principals, with a focus on simplicity and craftsmanship. SZN produces beautiful, intelligent pieces for a contemporary audience.
Closing out the first show of Saturday night, SpectraSZN showed a concise collection of unisex looks for Spring/Summer.
The collection utilised almost origami-like construction, with each garment made from a 150cm square piece of fabric. This obviously poses the designer with a variety of challenges, and as a result stimulates the creation of new and interesting tailoring and draping. Constraint has often been utilised by designers in order to stimulate inspiration, and it was clearly successful in this collection.
Dlouhy herself described the collection as not being traditional menswear, or womenswear for that matter, and stated that it was for the more experimental dressers amongst us
A part of me agrees with this assessment, and that is the part of me that never saw himself wanting to own or even wear a chambray jumpsuit. Now it’s all I can bloody think about, and quite near the top of my post-Fashfest shopping list. I’m already thinking of the potential ways that I could style it for the office and get away with it….
The collection remained true to Dlouhy’s previous designs with featured sustainable textiles such as hemp and organic cotton in ivory, black and chambray. These fabrics are not only environmentally sound, but also incredibly hard-wearing and given to developing character with use. Further, the colours and fabrics used in this collection perfectly align with the requirement ofthe design of each garment to be gender and size flexible."


  PHOTO:  Daniel Spellman

PHOTO: Daniel Spellman


Suzan’s new collection promises to smash it on the catwalk at FASHFEST 2016, and here’s why.

Each piece in the collection, called ‘150’, is created from square pieces of fabric measuring precisely 150 cm x 150 cm. Suzan continues to focus on minimal waste in her work, using as much of a piece of fabric as possible, conscious of the fashion industry’s reputation for discarding tonnes of material a year.

With ‘150’, Suzan has carefully selected a range of all-natural fibres that are comfortable and beautiful to wear—organic wool, cotton and hemp. The designs, true to SZN’s aesthetic, focus on simplicity and craftsmanship and appeal to the wearer’s non-conforming spirit.

“The pieces are one-size-fits-all and can be worn from size 8 to size 20 because they drape differently on each body,” says SZN. “They’re oversized garments with a minimal silhouette that you can wear layered.”

Also true to SZN’s aesthetic is a somewhat androgynous look, with Suzan’s designs appealing to men and women. ‘Many artists wear my designs,” says Suzan. “And people who are conceptual thinkers.”

This will be SZN’s third appearance at FASHFEST. Guests can expect a monochrome look and a “super simplified collection”.

After FASHFEST 2014, Suzan moved from Canberra to Melbourne where she’s been teaching fashion at The Social Studio, a fashion label, shop and café that celebrates the style and skills of diverse cultures in Australia. At The Social Studio, she’s had the opportunity to work with young people with talent who have experienced being a refugee.

Suzan is also busy working on collaborations with other artists, and has created costumes for two short sci-fi films and worked with a production company as a costume assistant on a movie coming out soon. She’s also produced garments worn by talent in music videos.

SZN stocks in three Melbourne retail outlets — Milly SleepingNorthern Thread and The Social Studio. Suzan also stocks in Canberra at Assemblage Project in Braddon, owned by Karen Lee (who designs for a fashion label under her own name and will also launch a collection at FASHFEST 2016).

‘Assemblage Project is fantastic,” says Suzan. “Karen is such a great operator and as a shop owner who is also a designer, she “gets it”.”

FASHFEST is being held 29 September to 1 October. Three nights. Six distinctive shows. One total fashion experience. Tickets on sale soon:


  PHOTO:   Lee Grant

PHOTO: Lee Grant

Here's a great piece by Molly McLaughlin from HerCanberra on upcoming SZN workshop at Nishi's Hotel Hotel: 

Local fashion designer Suzan Dlouhy left Canberra for the bright lights of Melbourne, but she is returning in June to teach a hand-sewing workshop as part of Hotel Hotel’s Fix and Make series.
The workshop will teach participants how to make a utility apron from pre-loved now unloved denim, and Suzan also will be answering questions about sewing and the fashion industry more generally.
“The idea is that we’ll deconstruct some pairs of jeans,” she explains, “and then we’ll look at what kind of apron we want to make, and which part of the denim to use. Depending on how the jeans have been worn, where the holes are, where you can use certain features to enhance your apron or make it adaptable to the situation.”
As well as working on SZN, Suzan teaches sewing classes at The Social Studio in Melbourne, which is a not for profit social enterprise dedicated to improving the lives of young Australians from a refugee or migrant background. Her students use donated fabrics, mostly scraps, which she believes teaches them to design flexibly.
She is equally passionate about fashion and sustainability; studying fashion at CIT after first dabbling in environmental policy study and a stint in the public service.
“In my final year I got more into upcycling because I needed to make a graduate collection at a low cost, so I was looking for free fabric,” she laughs. “I used scraps from other designers and grabbed clothes from the Green Shed. It’s hard to make fashion sustainable – there are so many choices you can make. Just buying from a local designer is a sustainable choice in itself.”
For those of us attempting to move away from overconsumption of fast fashion, Suzan designs with these qualities in mind.
“I always encourage my customers to buy less and choose well,” she says. “A lot of my stuff is oversized so it will fit over many years if you fluctuate sizes. I also make sure that the designs will last with your style over a longer period.”
Many of Suzan’s designs incorporate denim, like the utility apron that she will be making at the Fix and Make workshop, because it is a durable and versatile fabric.
“I love denim,” she says. “As a whole item it can be very specific, but once you cut it up it has a great texture and finish, and it’s timeless. It’s got endless transformation in it as a fabric.”
Suzan will be showing her designs in Canberra at FASHFEST later in the year. Her most recent collection is made using zero waste techniques and organic fibres, and she remains focussed on small-scale production.
“I run a label from half of a bedroom, I don’t have a big studio! Hopefully people will get into the idea that making something doesn’t have to mean a lot of equipment, a lot of skill, or a lot of time.” [Comment by Suzan: design and making does take a lot of time and skill, but your creativity is how you use what resources are avilable to you!]

What: Fix and Make’s Utility Apron workshop with SZN
Where: Hotel Hotel
When: Saturday 11 June. Multiple sessions from 9am-12pm, 10.15am-1.15pm and 11.30-2.30pm
Tickets: $95 or $60 concession. Purchase them here:


Clothes: SZN | Photographer: Rupert Laycock | Model (fringe): Daniela from Vicious | Model (pink hair): Sammy Newton from Giant | Make up: Jordanna | Hair: Phoenix Ly | Styling: Tory Price 

See the rest of Tantalum mag here.


Stylist Grace Dlabik of GiDi Creative, was recently interviewed by Spook Magazine, about her creative practice and work in Melbourne and New York fashion industry. The interview featured photos of SZN worn by gorgeous sister models Wegahta and Shewit, here's an excerpt from the interview:

SPOOK: You’ve been in the fashion industry for a long time and working in different areas throughout that. Tell us a bit about your back story and how you got into things. 
GiDi LOVE: I’ve been in this industry for half of my life now, and always predominantly in street wear. When I finished school I went and designed with Fubu – I got a job as a production assistant and then became a product developer and fashion designer. Obviously they were a huge brand in the 90s and was the biggest brand in the States at that time, and I just really resonated with that street culture. When I started my career it was all really great and exciting, designing things and seeing people wearing my stuff and the launches we were doing, but it was all really superficial.
After a few years of being a stay at home mum and taking time to look after my son I went back to work and that evolved into doing styling and then creative direction, but everything was still on a very superficial level, and sometimes I felt quite jaded about the industry and what we were doing, enticing consumerism, what impact we were making... read more here.

[PHOTO: Creative Director & Stylist: GiDi LOVE of GiDi CREATIVE, Photography: Paul Philipson, Makeup: Wanda Waller, Models: Wegahta Ghebremeskel & Shewit Ghebremeskel @ XO Studios.]


Inspired by revolutionaries Frida Kahlo and Freda McDonald (more commonly known as Josephine Baker) FridaFreda is a traveling online photography and fashion project that features contemporary and imagined superheroes created by the women and girls on this site. Part photography, part fashion, part interview and part performance, it is an archive of diverse voices, narratives and styles that document the powers of the women and girls from various cities around the world.

I was styled by Tamara Leacock and photographed by Katherine Soutar wearing all SZN! Here's the interview:

What kind of power would you like?
To be ninja like... I often check ceilings for potential hiding places.
How would it manifest? What would enable it?
To me it represents self confidence and a reliance on ones own abilities. I don't have these abilities in the slightest, but thinking about it enables awareness of oneself, others and the environment.
Who is your favourite superhero/person/public figure, contemporary or imagined?
My family.
What do you admire most about Frida Kahlo and "Freda" Josephine Baker?
Persistence of creative endeavour. They are both artists whose work stands alone and is larger than its self - representative of their personal struggles and social contribution.
What do you think of when you think of them?
Strong self identity. They seem to have a depth of self understanding and conviction.
What would you change in Melbourne? Australia? The world?
Awareness of the other. To move beyond just tolerance rather an acceptance of each other as we are.
Are there any other issues that are important to you? Locally? Globally?
The valuing of art for arts sake. I think if we could apply creative thinking to the world we would appreciate diversity, contribution and representation more.
Do you feel like change is possible in these areas? How? 
Yes, through understanding and acceptance.
Do you think your ideas could change anything?
Yes, every person with the frame of mind of understanding and acceptance is one less person who thinks otherwise.
Are you comfortable speaking your mind/putting ideas into the world?
Yes, but I don't do it enough, but maybe knowing when to be quiet is good too?
Do you consider yourself a feminist? Womanist? Why/why not? What does this mean to you?   
No, I prefer not to label my beliefs, or have my beliefs defined by labels. Feminists/womanists, to me, are people who choose to identify with a social movement to emancipate women from inequality. I support their cause. 
How often do you subconsciously/consciously think about your desired superpower when you dress on a daily basis?     
Occasionally I wonder if I can climb or kick in a particular dress or skirt, then I wear it anyway!

Read more here.


  Photo:  Red Magpie

Photo: Red Magpie

“We’re not fast fashion or the type of high fashion label that can do the normal runways. A block party is more us,” Andrea says. “A lot of the time we’re always asking people for money, with this we want to say: come and have fun on us.”
Suzan Dlouhy, a young designer from Canberra, moved to Melbourne seven months ago. She credits the Studio with connecting her to its network of like-minded fashion industry people. Sustainable, thoughtful fashion and working with recycled materials interests her, and she turned up at The Social Studio because their business model reflected those values. Subsequently, when The Social Studio needed a part-time teacher for the Certificate III course to fill a maternity leave position, Suzan was quick to be involved.

(Read more at Red Magpie)


The cameras rolled in Forbes over two days, shooting first at the Lachlan Historical Village and yesterday in the Weddin Mountains. 

The crew have already been filming for two weeks, in Victoria and most recently in Jugiong. 


I've been wardrobe/costume assistant on the film set of The Legend of Ben Hall, by director Matthew Holmes of Two Tone Productions. Working under costume designer Michael Chisholm and Frankie Hogan has been an incredible experience and a lot of fun, breaking-down (dirtying) costumes and creating looks from Michael's extensive catalogue of period costumes.

We even made the channel 9 news!