Creativity is a universal language

The Social Outfit ran a fashion and sewing project with the Intensive English Centre at Fairfield High School from July to September 2013. Ten newly arrived students from Iraq, Iran and Syria undertook accredited design and sewing classes, were taught about Australian design and walked away with their own unique piece of fashion.
Working on site at Fairfield High School over 8 weeks, The Social Outfit sought to celebrate the natural talents of these young people and their cultural traditions as well as developing their skills in clothing design and production.

Fairfield High School enrols a high number of students from refugee communities with over 20 nationalities represented. They also run an onsite community hub for parents from newly arrived refugee communities.

The hub features the Fairfield High School Parents’ Café, which provides opportunities for parents to engage with the Australian education system and gain more information about services, community organisations and pathways to training and employment.
“This project was our chance to continue working directly with young people from refugee backgrounds in fashion-related work,” says Jackie Ruddock, Founder and CEO of The Social Outfit. “Their energy, enthusiasm and creativity was infectious.”
The young women made their own dresses from a basic pattern while the young men made pants in a traditional Assyrian style. Students worked with The Social Outfit’s fashion teacher, Emma Kate and fashion intern, Stephanie Skinner to then create their own distinctive looks based on a palette of the group’s three most popular colours – black, white and green.

Former fashion designer, now interior designer, Nina Maya attended as a guest speaker and talked about her career in fashion, her creative experiences and taught the students the art of fabric draping.

While guest artists Nicole Barakat and Hussein spoke about their careers as Arabic-Australian artists and how they celebrate their cultural heritage through their work.
When the students had finished making their clothing items, make-up students from The Australasian College, Broadway volunteered their time to help customise individual looks for each student so they could model their creations for the camera.

The workshop proved that language is no barrier when it comes to creativity and that everyone can get involved, have a go and most importantly, have fun.
The program is slated to run again in 2014, this time with the inclusion of students’ parents.

This initiative created strong bonds between The Social Outfit, teachers, parents and students at Fairfield High School. So much so, that when the Social Outfit launched their Colour Chameleon Collection in October later that year, a bus load of parents and students arrived from Fairfield to help celebrate the event. Members of Fairfield High School’s Parent’s Café also catered the event in conjunction with the school’s hospitality senior students who volunteered as wait staff.

These projects were made possible because people, communities and organisations came together to support a bigger goal. Watch the video to see the students in action.

The Social Outfit and Fairfield High School Fashion Project from The Social Outfit on Vimeo.