Monthly Archives: June 2015

Printing 3D Fashion

Although the audience wasn’t aware, some of the fashion on the runway at Fashfest was made with a 3D printer. Yes, a printer. What happened to making good old paper patterns and cutting fabric with good old scissors you ask? Welcome to the world of fashion in 2015 and beyond. By Wendy Johnson.

Model Charne Esterhuizen wears 3D printed bracelet. Photograph by Robert Coppa

Charne Esterhuizen from Haus Models wears 3D printed bracelet by MAAK. Photograph by Robert Coppa

Organisations like the Australian 3D Manufacturing Association (A3DMA) and Engineer 3D are on to the infinite possibilities of this new-age technology. So too are an increasing number of fashion designers like those behind the label Mimetic, Melissa Pompeani and George McWilliam, and MAAK, Charne Esterhuizen, who are all recent graduates from the Canberra Institute of Technology.

Without getting technical, 3D manufacturing is the production of a physical object from a digital design. Today’s machines can make objects from almost any material, including plastic, glass, steel, and ceramics. Some items take an hour to produce and others much longer—depending on size and complexity. A shoe, for example, can take up to eight hours. A simple piece of jewellery much less.

Model Charne Esterhuizen wears 3D printed necklace and earings. Photograph by Robert Coppa

Charne Esterhuizen wears 3D printed bracelet by A3DMA. Photograph by Robert Coppa

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Rarotonga—From Trash to Class!

The story of one woman’s passion! By Aine Dowling.

We’ve seen clothing upcycled, recycled, pre-loved and vintage, no waste, and who made my clothes? but how about this one—bags made from plastic waste. Environmentalist and educator Sabine Janneck is co-owner of The Dive Centre on Rarotonga and knows all about eco-friendly environments, and is passionate about saving the lagoon and reef and keeping the beaches clean. But that’s not all Sabine is passionate about, with her innovative business—making bags from the plastic bags you toss—going gang-busters, it’s time to take a look at a different side of recycled fashion. 

Smart and colourful handbag by Sabine Janneck

Smart and colourful handbag by Sabine Janneck

According to Clean Up Australia, Australians use in excess of 6 billion plastic bags every year. If tied together these bags would form a chain that would go around the world 37 times! Plastic bags also clog up drains and waterways, and threaten our natural environment killing large numbers of wildlife each year including birds, whales, seals, and turtles.

So isn’t it better to go from thisSabine2

to this!

Sabine with a selection of recycled plastic bags

Sabine with a selection of recycled plastic bags and purses

Arriving on Rarotonga in 2006, Sabine is a qualified PADI Divemaster with a keen interest in underwater photography, and marine conservation and education that developed into a passion after she, and her partner Sascha, bought The Dive Centre. That passion later extended to all things environmental when a friend taught her how to make the purses and bags. “I really loved the bags, so I learnt how to make them and it just went from there,” says Sabine. “They’re unique, attractive and colourful, and a bit of fun. But more importantly they reduce the landfill.”

Sabine’s bags are made from a range of plastic products including dog and cat food bags, chip and snack packets, chocolate wrappers, coffee bags, yogurt pouches, milk cartons and basically any plastic food packet or wrapper. The packets and wrappers are sorted into colours and cut out using a template to determine either the colour or pattern that will be shown on the bag. The template strips are then folded to make small squares and sewn together to make the bag. Everything is done by hand by Sabine, and it takes around eight hours and 120 snack packets to make a small purse. My personal favourite was the Grain Waves clutch—very Australian in a lovely green and gold (see image above).

iPad holder

iPad holder

Sabine’s range includes small zip purses and wallets, clutch bags, handbags, tablet or iPad bags, phone covers, totes, cushions, and neck/back rolls. “Most of the items are made to order,” says Sabine. “They take so long to make, and use a lot of wrappers, so making items for stock is really not possible at the moment. People come in and ask for a purse or wallet, maybe in a particular colour, and I make it for them. Some bring in their own bags—one lady wanted a purple one and brought in a pile of Cadbury wrappers, it was just the colour she was after.”

Colourful tote bag with wooden handles

Colourful tote with wooden handles

Sabine is also an active member of the Te Ipukarea Society whose philosophy is that ‘we don’t own our land and marine resources, but borrow them from our future generations and need to leave them in good condition’. “I try to make real difference,” says Sabine. “I stop along the road to pick up wrappers and packets, and I have friends, and staff and students of the Rutaki School who collect them for me.” Sabine is also an educator at the school—teaching children the value of the environment and how to look after it, and is on a number of local committees including biodiversity, and sustainability.

“If we don’t teach our kids how to look after this place there will be nothing left for future generations,” says Sabine. “I can’t save the world, but I can help to make it a little bit better.”

Photos by LFW

Canberra’s Unique Ceramic Experience!

The creativity of ceramics will soon be celebrated in Canberra across four days in July, when the capital hosts the prestigious Australian Ceramics Triennale.  For Canberrans and visitors alike, this is a unique (and wonderful) opportunity to see the works of some of Australia’s best ceramicists as well as many from around the world. More than 35 free public exhibitions will take place across the city in Stepping Up, the name of the 2015 Triennale (9 to 11 July). By Wendy Johnson

Stunning ceramic bowl by Johanna DeMaine

Stunning ceramic bowl with precious metals by Johanna DeMaine

Avi Amesbury, CEO/Artistic Director at Craft ACT—herself a ceramicist—says this is Australia’s premier ceramics event and the last time Canberra hosted it was in the 1980s. Although the conference component of the Triennale is an opportunity for high-end ceramicists to get serious about expanding their skills and ideas, through presentations, panel discussions and workshops, the Triennale offers a great deal for the public.

Much of Trenna Langdon's work explores the colours and texture of the Canberra region

Much of Trenna Langdon’s work explores the colours and texture of the Canberra region

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Top five eating spots on Rarotonga!

Anyone who knows LFW knows about our annual pilgrimage to Rarotonga—16 years and still going strong!  Last year we checked out luxury accommodation, and on our most recent visit we checked out our favourite eating places. Now these are not ultra-fancy or fine dining (read expensive), they just offer great food, service, excellent location, and value for money. So if you’re thinking of visiting this tiny tropical island paradise—check out these places! By Aine Dowling.

Raro restaurant banner

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Tuk-Tuk Cook Island Style!

On a recent visit to Rarotonga LFW was impressed to meet up with a couple of innovative businesses determined to make the island environmentally sustainable and teach visitors, and locals, how to care for their ‘backyard’ which includes pristine beaches, a clean and clear lagoon, and caring for the reef and its tropical fish and coral, as well as air pollution and green energy. By Aine Dowling.

LFW checks out Tik-e tours cute tuk-tuks

LFW checks out Tik-e tours cute tuk-tuks – photo by LFW

Tik-e tours catch phrase is ‘ride the island the earth friendly way’. This amazing and environmentally friendly business is the brainchild of Karl and Tania Jackson and the business started in mid-February this year with six unique and incredibly cute tuk-tuks. “We saw an opening for business with a difference,” says Tania, “one that offers something unique, fun, and will help the environment—so we did our research and purchased six electric powered tuk-tuks.”

The tuk-tuks are made in Thailand but are as far from the belching smoke Thai tuk-tuks as you can get. Lean and clean, the e-tuks are 100 per cent electric and manufactured to European, Australian and New Zealand standards. The five bright orange tuk-tuks colour scheme was Tania’s choice (her favourite colour) and they stand out as they tootle around the island. There is also a white wedding tuk-tuk, and a ‘world-first’ tuk-tuk with trailer that can carry six passengers and their luggage to and from Rarotonga airport.

Tuk-tuk and trailer - photo courtesy Tik-e tours

Tuk-tuk and trailer – photo courtesy Tik-e tours

Depending on the battery pack each single pack tuk-tuk can make two round trips of the island (one round trip takes about an hour), and the double packs can do four trips (about four hours) before they need recharging. The tuk-tuks also have rain covers that pull down to keep passengers dry and comfy in tropical downpours.

Limo tuk-tuk with rain covers - photo by LFW

Limo tuk-tuk with rain covers – photo by LFW

Since its start-up in February Tik-e tours has been flat out. “We do a range of tours around the island including scenic and history tours, market shuttle, dinner transfers, cocktail/happy hour hop, and private and corporate events,” says Tania, “and we’re hoping to get our airport transfer licence in the coming weeks. But what has really taken off is our wedding tuk-tuk which is a traditional white limo and you can hire it simply as the limo or have it decorated island style, or even have a tuk-tuk train for the bridal party and guests. We have ten weddings booked already over the next two months, and they’re proving popular with both locals and visitors alike.”

Wedding tuk-tuk train - photo Tik-e tours

Wedding tuk-tuk train – photo Tik-e tours

The wedding tuk-tuk includes the limo and driver, white ribbons, and decorations, but you can also upgrade to palm floral decorations and a wedding photo e-limo service to take you and your photographer to the best photo spots on the island. In keeping with the wedding theme Tik-e tours also offers a Hen & Bucks Night service to fun hotspots.

Wedding limo tuk-tuk - photo Tik-e tours

Wedding limo tuk-tuk – photo Tik-e tours

Assisted by the Pacific Islands Greenhouse Gas Abatement through Renewable Energy Project, the Cook Islands Government has vowed to generate all its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 using both solar and wind farms. “This will be a huge achievement for the islands,” says Tania, “and one that we can be a small part of by not using fossil fuels. Our plan is to eventually have solar panels on the tuk-tuks so that we don’t rely on any fuel source for power.

“We’re already 100 per cent fun, and we aim to be 100 per cent green too!”

Birds in the Nest at Cooma!

It’s no secret that we loved Belle Bird designs at this years’ FASHFEST, so a bit of further investigation found us in snowy Cooma earlier this week to check out Birdsnest—which includes Belle Bird, That Bird Label, Birdkeepers, and Boho Bird as well over 200 other labels in the store. By Aine Dowling.

Bird lounge

Birdsnest is the brainchild of Jane Cay who set up the small store in 2004, going online in 2008. Since that time the company has increased from four staff (birds) to over 100; has just completed its third revamp of the now much larger store; is on its fourth website upgrade, and carries over 200 labels. Over the June long weekend Birdsnest is celebrating the opening of its Thredbo store specialising in alpine winter wear, and stocking the local Snow Angel label.

We met up with Birdsnest PR guru, Tan Ward, who gave us a guided tour of the store, the backrooms, the two warehouses—one of which was the former Woolworths supermarket—as well as a rundown on the business. But before the hows and whys of Birdsnest, let’s tell you about the store itself. It’s huge; it’s modern; it’s bright, and it’s classy. Oh, is it classy! Forget about racks of clothes all over the shop and squeezing to a change room the size of a laundry cupboard—this place is amazing! To say we were hugely impressed is an understatement! This is a business that truly puts its customers first—both in the store and online—from its laptops and iPads in the store and change rooms, to its 24 hour delivery turnaround across Australia.

Birdsnest change rooms and suite

Birdsnest change rooms and suite

Here’s how it works when you buy in store. There is one item of everything in the store—in one colour, and one size. So, you really like the size 8 grey cropped pants but you’re after something in black in a 12 or 14; no problem. Just hop onto the laptop, select the garment, click your colour and size, type in your name and hit enter. Then check the Arrivals board. In less than a minute your garment will come up as ‘in flight’, and within a couple of minutes your garment arrives on the rack in the change room with the Arrivals board changing to ‘landed’. Seriously, how cool is that! We loved it! And if the garment isn’t the perfect fit once you’re in the change room, get on the iPad and simply request another size. Now that’s customer service.

Some of the 200 brands in stock at Birdsnest

Some of the 200 brands in stock at Birdsnest

That’s the store. But the store is only a part of Birdsnest—out the back is where the action is. The office (if you can call it that) is vast open area designed in sections for customer service, packing and despatch, returns, accounts, designers and stylers, creators and writers, social media, the warehouse team, and its own photographic studio where the images taken are used in both their online and print publications including their catalogues and newsletters.

Four Bird labels L-R: Birdkeepers, Belle Bird, Boho Bird, That Bird Label

Four Bird labels L-R: Birdkeepers, Belle Bird, Boho Bird, That Bird Label

Buying online is just about as precise as you can get it by building your own customer profile when you sign up. You can choose your body shape (boobs, tummy, arms and legs), your personality (classic, modern, boho), your lifestyle (party girl, yummy granny, career, active, lady of leisure), and what colours and brands you would, and wouldn’t, wear. Within five minutes you’ll receive your own personalised style pack, and future emails and sales notifications are designed to fit your profile.

According to Tan Ward the Birdsnest online store is 94 per cent of their business. “When the orders come in we pack and send then off the same day,” says Tan. “We pack over 500 parcels a day and Australia Post picks up every day at 4.30pm, and during our busiest times it’s all hands on deck and every staff member will be packing. We also put a little thank-you gift in the bag with a handwritten card. We keep a record of all customer purchases, and we operate an awards program on the dollar spend.” If you live in the area you can also shop online and request an in store pickup instead of delivery.

Don’t like something you’ve ordered? Return it. “We have a full returns policy for all customers—no questions,” says Tan. “We want our customers to be happy and if they don’t like something they need to tell us so we can rectify it. The Birdsnest culture, customer focus, and teamwork is really important to us. It’s also important that this philosophy flow on to our customer base.”Bird3

Happy customers are involved at Birdsnest more than you may realise. When you purchase an item from That Bird Label you are automatically on the ‘design’ team. You have a vote on future garments, and if the general consensus is that those grey crop pants you really liked would be more comfortable with a soft stretch waist insert at the back, then the next design may well include it. “We listen to what our customers say, what they want and what they like, and our design team have often made changes to a garment if enough customers suggested it.”

Birdsnest is not just another retail fashion shop. It’s a whole new and exciting shopping experience. Give it a try—we guarantee you’ll love it!

Winter wear and aprés ski at Snow Angel now open in Thredbo

Winter wear and aprés ski at Snow Angel now open in Thredbo

Lean and Green!

In our Year of Eating Healthy we’re getting lean and green with winter veggies including greens, greens, and more greens! Greens are chock full of minerals (calcium, iron, and potassium), anti-oxidants, and vitamins—especially A, C, E and K, and a few of the best Bs. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and chard also contain fibre. So when your mother said ‘eat your greens’ she knew what she was talking about! By Emma Dowling

Our recipes below include greens with a high vitamin B12 content such as Brussels sprouts, spinach, bok choy, broccolini, and green beans; with a few not-so-green extras such as shell fish (great source of B12), mushrooms, nuts, and garlic, though not high on the B12 register it does contain plenty of vitamin C and is great for your immune system—not to mention keeping the vampires away; just joking there.

So check out our favourite Great Green recipes—they’re really good for you!

Broccolini and snow peas with sesame dressingTurning Green broccolini and snap peas Continue reading