Home' The Canberra Times : FEMME 2011 Contents 12 - SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT - THE CANBERRA TIMES - MARCH 8, 2011
A CELEBRATION OF INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN
Developing young talent and encouraging sustainable
design is a thrill for CIT fashion teacher Kate Shaw,
as Claire Low discovers
CIT fashion coordinator and design teacher Kate Shaw, with graduating year students, from left,
Elizabeth Knight, Amy Taylor, Alice Sutton and Pamela Macri.
Photo: Gary Schafer
There can be no doubt Kate Shaw
influences fashion. She helps
shape the next generation of
The Canberra Institute of Technology
coordinator of Fashion Design is also a
teacher of design process, design
thinking, critical thinking, visual
language and creative research. The
school has produced outstanding
graduates such as Project Runway
Australia winner Anthony Capon and
Angela Menz, described as one of
Australia's most recognisable faces in
Fashions on the Field contests.
Shaw is also working with a team at the
institute to establish a Research Fashion
Studio to link its undergraduate program,
recent graduates and the industry. The
program will work to foster a local design
''For a local fashion identity to
establish it has to be outstanding,'' she
''To be viable locally, fashion
designers must be able to compete
internationally. Fashion is an
internationally-networked industry that is
a fast-passed, well-oiled machine.
''Our distance from fashion centres
gives us the opportunity to compete if we
can offer a genuinely innovative local
point of difference.''
Shaw is adamant the recent struggles of
the fashion industry have presented
opportunities ripe for the taking.
The industry, badly hit by the global
financial crisis, sent a lot of manufacture
off-shore, which changed it.
''And always, with problem or change
comes great opportunities. There are
great, interesting opportunities for young
She says with the off-shore shift, others
had lost the advantage they may have had.
''Position matters less. Everyone is
trying to create something new. These
changes are not just in Canberra, they are
national. It's something Canberra can
actually be a part of and contribute to.''
Shaw and others teaching at the
institute advocate ''green'' clothing
design as the world shifts towards
''Solutions to sustainable design are
not obvious,'' she says. ''It needs to be
developed right from first principles at
many, many different levels.''
The approach to design has become
more like research as students explore and
test solutions to sustainability, she
''We can see as a whole school that our
thinking is becoming a lot more viable,''
''Offering real solutions is exciting.
Just buying green fabrics does not equal
sustainable fashion, that is not a holistic
She says there is significant scope for
innovation. The complex problem of
sustainable design had solutions such as
new consumer behaviour, improving the
life span of garments, production
systems, construction systems and
Shaw's background in design is deeply
rooted, albeit in a different field to start.
An architect by training, she got her
qualifications from the University of
Newcastle and spent about a decade
working on projects of a variety of scales.
The shift to fashion came via a
University of Technology, Sydney degree
in fine arts, focusing on painting and
Shaw wanted to move into fashion
since she was seeking a discipline more
intimate in terms of its scale that was
easier to manage as a designer.
There was, of course, a passion for
making garments and to give herself a
solid foundation she did a CIT course in
patternmaking and garment construction.
''My background in architecture
informs the valuing of ideas and
processes behind fashion, this is the focus
of my teaching at CIT,'' she says.
''If a designer invests energy into
questioning fashion, generating concepts
and developing creative processes, you
can guarantee that the resulting product
will be innovative and relevant.''
As coordinator of the fashion degree
program at the institute, her role partly
involves getting the program up and
running. She also coordinates the
curriculum across the course's three
The course changed constantly to make
it viable in a dynamic industry that also
changed all the time.
''In order for us to stay ahead of the
game and in the game, we can't just sit
back and deliver the same course year
Developing young talent is a thrill for
Shaw. She teaches students in their first
year and is always excited to meet the
latest crop of students.
''It's always exciting that no two years
are ever the same,'' she says.
''There's a different dynamic with
every cohort of students and we've got an
exciting group that have come through to
first year this year.
''I am looking forward to the
challenges they throw at me, and that I
can throw back at them.''
She will try to impart creative and
critical thinking, along with the ideas and
processes behind design, saying, ''It's not
about what fashion is, but what it might
'' To be viable locally, fashion designers must be able to compete internationally. Fashion is an
internationally-networked industry that is a fast-passed, well-oiled machine ... Our distance from fashion
centres gives us the opportunity to compete if we can offer a genuinely innovative local point of difference
Links Archive Floriade 10 See Canberra - Autumn 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page