Inspired by a love for pattern and hand-crafted materials, Claire Cummings is fast creating a business focused on sustainability and ethically-made products for the fashion and homewares markets.
Cummings is also a student, entering her final year of RMIT’s highly regarded Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design) course, and is happily balancing her studies with her love for design into a burgeoning textiles label called ‘Hangin’ Around’.
“I learnt a lot about the industry in my first year of uni I was especially engaged with the classes on ethics and sustainability, and they were what pushed me to launch my own label,” Cummings says.
“The information they taught us right from the first week of the course was so valuable.”
It was while working on a sustainable garment project for university that Cummings had the idea to start her own business.
“I thought, if I can make this one item in such a thoroughly ethical way, why can't that apply to a whole range?”.
Driven to create an alternative to fast fashion, Cummings has a “desire to contribute to the world in a positive way”.
I’m passionate about promoting sustainability in the midst of a fast-paced, wasteful consumer culture that takes advantage of those down the supply chain.
“I’ve placed a focus on quality artisan textiles that can be enjoyed for long periods of time.” A notion that pushes against the current fast fashion trends.
Cummings credits her RMIT studies in textile design for helping develop her knowledge and skills, which in turn has allowed her to uncover her design identity.
“The teachers push us. Often to our limits, which is great because it makes us explore our work and deepen our practice. Just when we have found a comfortable style, they nudge us to develop that idea or design a little further, which results in our best, most refined work.
"We never stagnate, which I think is vital in this kind of ever-changing industry. The course content is varied, informative and well rounded."
The course provides Cummings with an incredibly diverse range of projects, exposing her to many different facets of the industry.
RMIT’s open approach to learning has allowed Cummings to make educated decisions as to what kind of designer she wants be.
“It has given me space to figure out what is important to me and my practice, and what I'd like my place to be in the industry,” she says.
“Having the external influence from my teachers that constantly encourages me to get out of my comfort zone has certainly helped me to develop and define my identity as a designer.
“The number one skill I’ve gained from the course is a tolerance for a high workload! Running my own label has been demanding and intense, but BA Textile Design has prepared me for that.
“Juggling many different deadlines, working to time limits, handling the challenges of doing 100 per cent of the work for a business - it just feels like another uni project.
We complain that the workload of our assignments is crazy, but really we would be lost without it!”
The Bachelor of Arts Textile Design provides students with the skills and knowledge to be an internationally attuned creative textile designer with the capacity to work across a range of industries and fields.
Students gain hands-on skills and expertise in this studio based degree to develop innovative design concepts and original materials for speculative, cross-disciplinary, community and commercial projects.