checkout complete detailed article on Sydney-based brand reinvents vintage towels through fashion design
VIA IMAGE @TOWEL/INSTAGRAM
WORDS FROM IZZY WIGHT
“The word ‘fashion’ implies something that comes and goes, and there is something inherently flawed about that.”
Weather towels can be beautiful and carefully made, they are often not a fabric that emotions Towels are given as gifts to distant relatives, placed on car seats trampled by dogs, or stored neatly in the back of linen closets to slowly collect dust (with the exception of those hooded towels that give animal ears , now they are exciting).
Wanting to give her good friend Dani a heartfelt gift, Sydney designer Whim Wilson decided to salvage those towels from the back of her closet. After a trip to her local operations store, Whim returned with a pile of used towels and a surge of new design inspiration.
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Dani’s gift was a success, Whim’s recycled towel project became its own fashion brand. wipe It’s where unwanted towels are reinvented in the form of colorful bucket hats, soft cardigans, and contrasting ensemble outfits.
Tell us about you. What is your experience in fashion?
I am Whim, the founder of wipe. My first word was “shoe” according to my parents. He was totally obsessed with shoes as a kid. I always had fashion design in the back of my mind as a path I could take, but I ended up studying architecture and then going into fine art.
My year 10 textile project was a corset with inverted teacups attached to the bra cups. I think it will always be one of my favorite creations.
How did the label start? Tell us about the process and the challenges.
In 2019 I was living in a really creative and inspiring home with two friends from art school, Eliza and Dani. It was Dani’s birthday and I wanted to do something that was unique, quirky and just a pure embodiment of my affection for her.
I saved some towels from Vinnies in Newtown and started sewing. At the end of the day, I ended up with a sweater that had a v-neckline, big formal long sleeves, and ‘Dani’ embroidered on the front. It snowballed from there, but I never expected that three years later I would have this business.
It is a challenge to work with vintage towels because each piece is unique. It can be difficult to get into a rhythm when making and slows down the sales process. But these are also the things that make Towelie so special.
What were you trying to accomplish with the project at the time? How has this evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now?
At first, my Towels were fun gestures of love that you could also take to the beach. The pieces I did were bright, lively and unapologetically silly. More recently I’ve realized that I can take Towelie in any direction she wants…I’ve started to get inspired and experiment more.
Someone told me early on that “wearing a towel makes you feel loved. It’s like someone is hugging you.” Although I think Towelie has evolved, that feeling is something I want to strive for, in all the pieces I do.
Throughout the whole process, I definitely became more passionate about slow and circular fashion. I think Towelie will end up morphing into something else eventually, but I intend to continue using what we already have in the world to make new pieces.
How would you describe Towel designs to someone who has never seen them before?
I would describe Towelie as vibrant, cunning and loving clothing; made from vintage towels.
What are you most proud of in your work on your label?
I’m a little proud that I didn’t to mean to start a tag. I’m also proud of the way Towelie turns textiles that might have been ignored in the back of a closet into something precious.
Who do you think is more exciting in Australian fashion right now?
What does the Australian fashion industry have to change?
The word ‘fashion’ implies something that comes and goes, and there is something inherently flawed about that. You shouldn’t have to buy new pieces every season to stay relevant. We have to stop saying phrases like “that piece is so fashionable right now”. We should start by saying “this piece is so me, forever”. There also needs to be a lot more accountability in the industry, which can only really happen with government regulation.
I think there’s a lot of excitement around slow, circular fashion processes right now, and I hope the Australian fashion industry continues to ride that wave.
Who is in your closet right now?
My most recent purchase was from base rank. My favorite pieces are my cool aunt’s ’90s thrift stores, including a cherry-print silk Yaso maxi dress with spaghetti straps and a roll neck.
How can we buy one of your pieces?
Anything else to add?
There is enough cloth in the world. Upcycling and circular fashion are the future!
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