04 August 2014

In profile: Karen Webster

RMIT Deputy Head of Fashion and Textiles is one of Australia’s best-known fashion industry figures.


Associate Professor – Deputy Head of Fashion and Textiles at RMIT University

Associate Professor Karen Webster has for 35 years been actively engaged as an advocate and leader in the Australian fashion industry.

Associate Professor Webster has held senior positions in RMIT fashion for over twenty years and in this role she has served to influence the future shape of the industry and played a pivotal part in the development and thinking of the next generation of designers.

“Our programs are about finding how each and every one of our students can contribute to making a difference within the global fashion and textiles environment and helping them get there,” she said.

Associate Professor Webster maintains RMIT holds a global reputation in the fashion industry and she is constantly excited by the quality of work and enthusiasm students display on campus and in industry placements and employment.

“I may be walking down the street in New York, London or Paris and one of our graduates will come up and tell me about all the wonderful things they are working on,” she enthuses.

Associate Professor Webster notes that the industry demanded RMIT alumni and graduates have been employed as designers at world renowned fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton, Viktor and Rolf, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Calvin Klein.

“One of the wonderful things about RMIT, is how we have permeated the world,” she said.

Associate Professor Webster brings a wealth of industry experience to her role as RMIT Deputy Head of Fashion and Textiles.

As Festival Director from 2005 to 2010, she grew the L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival to include more than 300 events, and unprecedented attendance levels and sponsorship support, making it a landmark event on the Melbourne cultural calendar.

Associate Professor Webster has held numerous Board positions and was a founding board member of the Melbourne Fashion Festival.

She currently sits on the boards for the Australian Fashion Chamber, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and the Federal Government’s Positive Body Image Advisory Panel.

In 2010, Associate Professor Webster was appointed the first female Board Director in 70 years at the Council of the Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia and as part of this role has been appointed the Chair of the Australian Fashion Council.

More recently, Associate Professor Webster was on the advisory boards for Australian Design Alliance, Balletlab, State of Design Festival, the Design Research Institute and the Media Code of Conduct Working Group on Body Image for the Victorian State Government, which provided advice to the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs.

Associate Professor Webster worked as a fashion designer for over ten years in London, Melbourne and Sydney prior to working in academia and currently works as a strategic and design consultant within the fashion industry.

Associate Professor Webster was the 2012 inductee to the Fashion Hall of Fame in Melbourne.