A childhood love of sewing propelled Kristine O’Loughlin into RMIT’s Bachelor of Fashion Design (Honours). It all began when her grandmother taught her to sew clothes for her toys.
“I loved making new things,” she says. “What I really loved about sewing was just creating new things out of nothing, taking plain fabric and turning them into garments for my teddy bears”.
Kristine studied textiles throughout high school, while also developing a love of science. It presented a conundrum when it came time to select a university program, but in the end she chose fashion.
“I’d worked on productions with high school, making costumes, and it got to about a week before applications closed for RMIT and my teacher said, ‘Just apply’!"
“I was set to do science - I wasn’t going to do fashion at all. But then a week before, I thought 'I don’t want to give it up', so I just had a try and applied.”
The innovative nature of the Bachelor of Fashion Design (Honours) allowed Kristine to combine her two passions of fashion and science. She began studying material innovation, which is a key component of a more sustainable fashion industry.
“Most of the fabrics we use now are actually created in the eighties and before,” she explains.
“Not much solid materials innovation has been done, although there is a lot being worked on at the moment and it’s an exciting new field.”
A highlight of Kristine’s study was participating in the Biodesign Challenge, a global biotechnlogy competition for students, which led her to New York. Kristine and her team designed Enzer, a water filtration and treatment system for microplastics that can be retrofitted to washing machines. They won the ORTA Prize for Bio-Inspired Textile Processes, sponsored by denim manufacturer ORTA.
“It was a really exciting team to be a part of and we had a great time, it was a great experience,” she said.
Kristine is now preparing for a semester in Finland as part of RMIT’s student international exchange program.
“I’m going to study at the University of Metropolia in Helsinki,” she explained.
“Finland is leading in sustainability, they have great education systems and a wonderful landscape I’m really excited to explore.”
Her advice for new students is to investigate the many different ways to enhance study and to learn from your friends.
“My favourite thing about studying at RMIT is definitely all the opportunities I’ve been given,” she said.
“They offer lots of different classes, we get to pick from every semester including ones that have international opportunities and study tours. If you want to do something RMIT will offer it and let you do it.
“Definitely something I wish I knew when I started was all of your friends will help you through so much, especially in fashion. We get so much help from each other.”
Find out how Kristine's lifelong love of sewing and textiles is helping create a plan for her future.
Acknowledgement of country
RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer