Green glamour defines Tegan Leigh’s UTS fashion collection
For her final-year project, UTS Fashion and Textiles student Tegan Leigh created Don’t Apologise, a luxe and playful collection that drew together everything she’d learned in one of Sydney’s leading fashion courses.
More than just a fashion degree
Sequins, shoulder pads, screen printing and sass – those were the ingredients of Tegan Leigh’s final year fashion collection for the Bachelor of Design in Fashion and Textiles at UTS.
A culmination of four years of study, countless hands-on projects and a wealth of electives and international study experiences, the project was a labour of love that combined Leigh’s passions for tailoring and screen printing.
“We did fashion illustration, which I think was one of the first projects I did, and I realised how much I love colour,” she says.
“Then, I went to India at the end of second year as part of a Global Studio subject and that was just incredible for me. I went over and did woodblock printing, and that was the first taste I got for printing.
“When I got into third year, we did menswear, which is a screen-printing subject, and I just loved it. I had so much fun! So by the time I got to honours, my textiles teacher was like, ‘Well, of course you’re doing a print based honours collection.’”
The result is Don’t Apologise, a womenswear collection inspired by the women of the 1970s and 1980s – think shoulder pads, high-waisted pants and bold, masculine shapes – crossed with the disco aesthetic of legendary New York nightclub Studio 54.
“It was disco-era style, so there’s so much sparkle, so much extravagance,” Leigh says.
Sustainable fashion in the hands of Tegan Leigh
The majority of the garments were made of wool, thanks in large part to Leigh winning the Australian Wool Education Trust (AWET) grant, one of a range of scholarships and prizes open to final-year students in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building. The grant
Gave Leigh $2000 to spend on wool for her final collection.
The collection also reflected her growing commitment to sustainable fashion. During her studies, she says she was shocked to discover that the textiles industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters.
In response, Leigh adjusted her creative processes to try and save on materials, such are re-using existing prototyping fabrics and working with leftover print colours for her screen printing rather than mixing her own from scratch and using clever tailoring to create garments that will stand the test of time.
“I think with tailoring, because I’m creating classic shapes, it’s not something that will go out of fashion,” she says.
“As a designer, obviously you need to know what’s happening in the world and what the current trends are but you need to try and see past that. You need to be creating something that will withstand trends and I think that’s something tailoring does.”
An Australian fashion designer in the making
Having finished her degree at UTS, Leigh is ready to take everything she’s learnt and start making a name for herself in the fashion industry. She was recently featured in a 10 Magazine article about up and coming UTS Fashion graduates. Through one of her tutors, she’s scored an interview with iconic Australian company Bonds, and she’s also made connections at knitwear company Calcoop.
But even without those connections, she says, just having UTS on her resume will make her stand out when it comes to the graduate job market – it’s a name associated with top-tier fashion graduates with skills that span every aspect of the industry.
“UTS creates designers that know about the whole process – we do the patternmaking, we do the designing and we’re taught all the textile production and exactly how it comes about,” she says.
“I chose UTS because it was recognised – it was a school that stood for itself. When you said you did fashion at UTS, everyone was like, ‘Oh, wow, you’ve worked really hard! That’s a good place!’