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Donna Sgro - the 2012 INNOVATORS

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FASHION FUTURE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Australian designer Donna Sgro talks of timeless style and her fashion journey.

Donna Sgro provides a range of high quality garments, currently designed and manufactured in Australia. Donna Sgro designs with strong attention to quality detailing and unique fabrication, interesting colour combinations and a tailored cut mixed with sportive elements. The garment range is designed for a customer who appreciates quality coupled with a high spirited, youthful and relaxed feel.

How and why you entered fashion Industry?

Passionate about the arts and creativity, I decided to enter the fashion industry upon realizing it was a great way to combine my interests and talents! Fashion design I found to be a great way to do this and create a result that was tangible and could appeal to other people. Where did the journey into fashion design begin for you –

Originally I had completed an Arts degree at Sydney University in Art History & Theory and was looking for a way to be able to translate my interest in art movements in a contemporary way. I subsequently returned to study Fashion & Textiles Design at the University of Technology, Sydney, and found it to be something I just really enjoyed – I never looked back. Who has influenced you most in your life –

I think the biggest influence in my life (apart from my parents of course which is unavoidable) has been creative people throughout history who really focus on what they do and almost obsessively produce a unique vision. People like Jean Cocteau, Max Ernst, Vaslav Nijinsky, Marcel Duchamp, Rei Kawakubo, Hussein Chalayan.

1. Why is it so rewarding to be a leading Fashion Designer?

I have made some amazing contacts internationally and had some really positive results with the collections I have created. Having had such amazing support for my label from respected people such as Mr Nobuyuki Ota (President of Issey Mikaye) and Mr Richard Collasse (President & Director, Chanel Japan) has been so rewarding and encouraging.

2. Where do you get your inspirations from?

I feel a bit like a sponge soaking up inspiration from anywhere and everywhere really. I continually research historic and contemporary art, design and fashion and am really driven by curiosity. Combined with this research I am fascinated by many things in the natural world and really anything that is interesting to contemplate. For each collection usually I immerse myself in a new topic area to research and through discovering new things, translate these experiences into new designs.

3. What has been your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement so far has been the experience of being a winner of the 1st SHINMAI Creator’s Project – a new international fashion competition organised by the Japan Fashion Week Organisation.

I received full sponsorship from JFWO to launch my collection with a catwalk show at the 8th Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo, and became the first Australian designer to show on schedule at JFW. The experience of working with a Japanese company to participate in this project was truly interesting and has given me a unique relationship to the Japanese fashion industry that is often hard to achieve.

4. What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?

My greatest challenge I think I face everyday. Being in a position where as a new designer you really do not have a great deal of day-to-day support, it is often a great challenge to get through each day and keep going! I try to overcome this feeling by trying to stay positive and think about how much I have achieved and the encouragement that I have received from people who do support what I am doing.

5. Whose style do you most admire?

I think I have most admiration for someone like Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. She has always been an avant-garde leader and uncompromising in terms of personal aesthetics. I love that she constantly questions the fashion status quo and creates a unique style that has consequently come to influence so much of fashion since the early 80s.

6. What changes in your business, if any, have you made to adapt to the current economic climate?

In the past 12 months I have been changing the way I do business from primarily wholesale to increasingly retail. I have launched an online store, where customers can now buy direct.

I have also been present at many more market events such as The Finders Keepers, Young Blood and now regularly at Paddington Markets. I find it is helping me to directly deal with my customers who are increasingly loyal and interested in what I am doing.

7. Divulge the fashion piece that you couldn't live without?

I have a Yohji Yamamoto jacket that is probably my most worn piece of clothing. I find I can wear it with absolutely everything and it has been wearing in so nicely I probably would be very lost without it. I love a fashion piece that is high quality and made to last

8. What is your worst fashion faux pas?

Fashion faux pas. Hmmm. I would probably see a faux pas as part of my everyday style…! I do encourage wearing flat shoes with everything… so probably the lack of heels in my wardrobe perhaps?

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

As a new fashion designer in tough economic times, this is a hard one! Hopefully continuing to make what I love to do and inspiring others to do the same.

10. What advice can you offer to emerging fashion designers?

I think that the best advice I can offer is to do lots of research before you decide to create your label and to be passionate in your beliefs and stick to your goals. It is important to have a unique vision and to be strong enough to stand behind this. It is very difficult running a fashion label and not something that should be entered into lightly!

11. Donna’s ‘HOT TIP’

Nothing new but probably flat shoes!

And more seriously – the idea of moving away from “fast fashion” to fashion that is more aware of the effect the fashion industry and consumers have on the environment.

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