Designer Anna Hulm’s global travels have inspired a line of artistic silk dresses that marry art and fashion with an additional focus on sustainability.
Hulm, originally from Russia, immigrated to New Zealand with her family at 14. At 19, she moved to Paris to study fashion, then worked in London, later moving to Brisbane with her husband.
“l started off by selling my silk collections at (South Bank’s) Young Designers’ Markets,” says the designer.
In February this year Hulm took the next step in opening a store in the Wintergarden and in March, an open plan studio/store in James St, Fortitude Valley.
“We focus on creating pieces that fit and flatter women of different shapes,” says Hulm of her designs.
“Quality fabrics and comfort are a priority, as I believe one cannot feel beautiful in a dress unless it is comfortable.”
The range is priced from $50-$300 and is led by ethical practice that dictates zero wastage of fabric.
“I design with the no waste rule in mind – we literally have no cut offs, all the fabric is used up,” says Hulm.
“I strongly believe in ethical production – no one needs to be exploited to make ridiculously expensive clothes. While I make many of the pieces myself, when staff helps me with production, I know they are getting a fair wage.
“We don’t use factories in Australia as there is no way to control the working conditions and wages of the workers. They could be paid illegally $5/hour and the designer would not have anything to do with that, but the label would say “Made in Australia”. It is not really about where it is made – in Australia or not. It is about how it is made and the conditions of the workers. It is impossible to control the whole production chain of course, but I visit the silk factory that we work with and ask questions and look at how the fabric is made.”
Hulm says in her experience, ethical fashion practice is not well understood by the general consumer.
“I do not think general public thinks or cares enough about how clothes are made,” she says.
“Out of sight – out of mind. That’s why I set up our studio right in the store so customers would see how we make everything.”
Hulm will take part in Undress Runways, a fashion showcase on April 26. The event supports and showcases designers with sustainable values including ethical production, organic fabrics and vintage materials.
“Undress Runways is a perfect opportunity to support sustainable fashion,” says Hulm.
“They are doing a great job at promoting labels that do things differently and make sustainable fashion the way of the future.”