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DESIGNER / AKA

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designer:

Ayla Anderson

location:
Meanjin. Brisbane, QLD

attributes:
adjustability, subversion, and repurposing

One random fact about myself would be that I used to do acrobatics!! So
random!!

q&a

background / edu

I was born on the Gold Coast, my Dad is originally from New Zealand
with heritage going back to Scotland, and my mum grew up in Sydney
however was adopted so we don’t know our cultural background on her
side. I went to school on the Gold Coast also, and throughout my
schooling experienced a lot of stress due to undiagnosed Anxiety &
ADHD – two things I didn’t even know existed, let alone understood that
I suffered from. These undiagnosed conditions made me extremely self
conscious – not understanding why I felt the way I felt, and struggling
through. I never did particularly well grade-wise, however found that the
sewing side of my home economics class was my safe space. I felt
passionate about it, I felt I was decent at it, and in a strange backwards
way my self-conscious nature meant that I wanted to create things that
stood out from the rest. I went to quite a fancy school, and they would
put on a runway event each year for all of the home ec students to
showcase their work to their parents, friends and teachers. It was always
a very extra event, with a proper runway and awards ceremony. It was
for the purpose of showing the work we had done for our assignments,
however in year 12 they gave us the option if we wanted to do our own
capsule collection of sorts. These collections were completely separate
from graded work, and were purely there for us to take creative control. I
decided to do a full latex collection – which was quite the task, using tyre
glue to fuse the latex seams together and just hope it all worked. The
day before we debuted the collections the seams were peeling apart, so
I stayed up the entire night before the show to sew an entirely new
collection, just in case I couldn’t get the seams to fuse prior to the show.
It ended up all being okay, the seams fused, the show was fantastic and
I ended up winning the people’s choice award with over 90% of the 300
people in attendance voting for my collection.
A bit of a long winded way to say that I had never been so stressed, but
yet so fulfilled, and I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I still had a
lot of issues with my self confidence however, and decided to go down
the more traditional path of dermal therapy, working for a dermatologist
and performing laser treatments on patients, as well as assisting in
surgery. Although this job was very fulfilling, I felt stifled. There was no
creative expression, I had to conform to dress codes and an aesthetic
that I felt extremely trapped by. In 2020 my partner and I decided to
move to the UK, to get away from that environment and try to get into
the creative field over there. Unfortunately we moved 5 days before the

first lockdown, so had an extremely stressful journey throughout the year
and a half we were there. We fell into retail jobs so that we could survive
(although I ended up working for a skincare company in harrods which
was amazing) and then in October 2021 moved back to the Gold Coast.
I had learnt a lot about myself whilst in London. I had started seeing
psychologists and psychiatrists, and was diagnosed with depressive
episodes, ADHD and anxiety. I did a lot of work on myself, learnt that
self expression was the way I could fight against my self conscious
nature, and decided to finally start back on my fashion journey again
(although I had been dabbling in making things whilst in London).
Hence I started at QUT in 2022 studying fashion design. I volunteered
for Brisbane Fashion Week in that same year and made some
invaluable connections through that experience. Due to my work ethic at
the event, I was invited to assist on some photoshoots with rebel rebel
agency, and after one shoot assisting they started asking me to be the
stylist on a lot of their shoots. It's since become one of my main sources
of income and I feel extremely blessed to be able to work in the creative
field whilst still studying. I also often do talks at the university to
prospective students, and do talks for the new students when they start
studying fashion design. At a similar time that I started studying I
volunteered to help out with the third years graduate show in 2022. As
the semester went on, my responsibilities in relation to this show
snowballed, and I ended up coordinating the show alongside Icaro
Ibanez and Lydia Pearson. Due to my work last year, QUT employed me
to coordinate this year also, and I absolutely loved every second of it.
What my work aims to say:
At the moment some of my main focuses in my work are adjustability,
subversion, and repurposing. Due to my experience as a stylist for the
last year, one of the things that I think is really powerful for a garment is
the ability to give the wearer creativity with how they want to style the
piece. I personally found that I developed a lot of confidence through self
expression, and I would love for someone who doesn’t feel super self-
expressive to be able to try styling my pieces in different ways to step
out of their comfort zone. My most recent collection focused on this, with
pieces that were either size adjustable so the garment will hopefully
have a longer lifespan with a person, or multifunctional in the way it can
be worn. I’ve also found my work in the last 6 months has been very
focused on suiting, and trying to reinvent our expectations of what
suiting can be, as it’s an area of fashion rooted in misogyny, unhealthy

work expectations, and what society considers a ‘professional’ to look
like. Overall, I always love my collections to have a strong story element.
People, movements, things that inspire me:
Such a cliché answer in the fashion world, but Alexander McQueen is
one of the designers that I feel a strong connection to. As a tortured soul
with extreme mental health issues, he channelled his pain and torment
into his art, and I find that incredibly moving. Most of the designers
around me channel some sort of pain of their own into their designs, and
I find it’s a way to cope with what life throws at us. I watch the
‘McQueen’ documentary at least once a month, and it never fails to
move me to tears. Regarding approach to artistry and story I’m
incredibly inspired by Colm Dillane of Kidsuper. The incredible stories he
crafts through his work always impress me, and his runway shows level
up the game every time. He always takes a ‘go big or go home’
approach to the performance aspect to his work, and I find that really
inspiring. Outside of designers and fashion I’m very inspired by film. My
partner is a filmmaker and throughout our relationship has slowly
introduced me to many films that have inspired me and given me
emotions I couldn’t put into words – and this is something that when I’m
able, I would love to do with my collections.

Design aesthetics

I always find this really hard to articulate as my work has changed so
often, however I’d say where the brand is at now, and the direction I’d
love it to continue in, fits into reinventing traditional tailoring. Abstract
silhouettes, clean lines mixed with some geometric lines are also words
I’d use – but alo feel free to write how you would describe the collection!
I often spend so long with pieces and have over-thought them so much
that I find it hard to articulate their ‘aesthetic’ if that makes sense.

inspiration

Such a cliché answer in the fashion world, but Alexander McQueen is
one of the designers that I feel a strong connection to. As a tortured soul
with extreme mental health issues, he channelled his pain and torment
into his art, and I find that incredibly moving. Most of the designers
around me channel some sort of pain of their own into their designs, and
I find it’s a way to cope with what life throws at us. I watch the
‘McQueen’ documentary at least once a month, and it never fails to
move me to tears. Regarding approach to artistry and story I’m
incredibly inspired by Colm Dillane of Kidsuper. The incredible stories he
crafts through his work always impress me, and his runway shows level
up the game every time. He always takes a ‘go big or go home’
approach to the performance aspect to his work, and I find that really
inspiring. Outside of designers and fashion I’m very inspired by film. My
partner is a filmmaker and throughout our relationship has slowly
introduced me to many films that have inspired me and given me
emotions I couldn’t put into words – and this is something that when I’m
able, I would love to do with my collections.

creative process

My process when it comes to designing always starts with a concept.
Usually I cycle through aesthetics, colours, fabrics, textures etc. that are
interesting me at the time, but the designs never start there. Whenever
I’m inspired by something I’ll write it down, and over time I’ll slowly have
more and more ideas linked to that concept which I’ll add in. Sometimes
these concepts are short lived and after some time leaving them in my
notes app and adding to them slowly, they don’t feel right anymore.
Sometimes one will stand out more than the others, and that’s usually
when I’ll decide to start some research and aesthetic exploration. I like to
start without visual stimulus, as looking at other visuals in particular can
really steer away from the concept, and what the collection is trying to
say. I usually start with a mind map or even just listing different words
and ideas and links to each other on a page, which helps me to deepen
the concept. The concept will still change and develop once I introduce
aesthetic research, but I find that this gives me a really strong foundation
to build from. I will then slowly collect visual inspiration through imagery,
films, taking photos of things that I see out and about etc. and slowly
build a journal of all of this research. As I go I’ll start to sketch out ideas

(terribly), and build a bit more of an idea of how I’m planning to
communicate the concept. From there it’s iterating, iterating, iterating,
over and over. Toiling ideas, testing out silhouettes and shapes, fabric
experimentations etc. until the collection comes together.

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