Each Obus print since the brand began in 1998 is a product of Obus founder and creative director Kylie Zerbst's hand. So after twenty years, what has Kylie learned about the world of textile patterns? Here, she shares her top five tips for creating a killer fashion textile design.
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Consider the fabric
Across our collections, our original prints are often spread across our favourite fabrics - cotton jersey, viscose, bamboo/cotton, and linen. Choosing which print will work with which fabric is quite a considered part of the design process. Geometric designs and bold colours really ‘pop’ on jersey - TWO WORLDS is a great example of this - while the drape of Viscose only suits certain textile designs. Because we have moved towards digital printing for most of our textile designs - a method that is more environmentally friendly than screen printing - there is no limit to the colours we can use. However, a more textural fibre such a linen will suit a pattern that can mask or work with the natural slubs present in the fabric. It’s a big puzzle and the first challenge in designing a collection!
Play with scale
When designing a print for Obus, I spend quite a bit of time playing with scale. I love to make the features of a print really big - TELL ME A STORY is a good example of this. With a large scale print, it’s highly likely your Obus garment is completely unique, because every piece is cut from the fabric in a different place. Having said that, sometimes a smaller more detailed print can work just as well. WANDERER, a print that has undergone a few evolutions over our 20-year history, is a good example. Bigger is not always better (but it usually is ;))
Colour can make or break a print
Colour is a huge feature of our collections, and often I’ll review multiple colour options for a single print with my team before making a final decision. After so many years, I believe it’s often the thing that makes or breaks a print. I’m influenced by a range of things when devising the colour combinations across a collection - from current trends, to my own favourite hues… but I always aim for something unexpected. In combination with the textile design and fabric, the colours can really help take a garment to the next level!
Ensure your digital file is technically correct
Sketching, drawing, designing and refining a print concept is the fun part, but getting it onto fabric is quite a technical process! Each fabric and design requires digital artwork files to be set up in different way, and communication with our printers to get the best result is key. Sometimes colours that I see onscreen will look completely different printed on fabric, so the digital file setup has to work in reverse. It can be a headache at times! But when those first samples arrive and the print gets closer to ‘the real thing’, is one of my favourite parts of designing the collection.
Make it personal
There are millions of textile designs out there, but I truly believe the best designs come from the heart. Reviewing the prints I’ve created since Obus began for the LOVE OBUS collection was a moving experience. Each one is imbued with so much of Obus’ life story: the destination it was inspired by; something cultural I was curious about at the time; or even how difficult it was to bring the textile idea to life! Just like art, designing a textile print that relates to something you’ve seen, felt, experienced or are passionate about will always yield the best results. So let your mind wander and see what comes!Shop all the latest Obus prints here. Images feature prints from our upcoming collection, launching soon!
The character, style and quality of our new FUYUKO COAT is matched only by that of its very talented maker, Mark.
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Based in Melbourne's inner western suburbs, Mark's workshop is a hive of activity and houses some seriously cool industrial sewing machines. Mark has been specialising in high-end coat production for many years, and has a long history manufacturing for Obus. With his acute attention to detail and a love of all things classic (especially music!), it's no wonder we love having him make our clothes! Shop the FUYUKO COAT here.
When he's not making some of the most beautiful, considered coats around, Mark is a performer who travels all over Australia with his show that celebrates the music of Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley (insert cool shades emoji here).
By now we’re sure you know that Obus makes over 80% of our clothing right here in Australia. But the making is only part of the equation. Ensuring that each part of the supply chain aligns with our ethical and environmental values is important to us too!
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Last year, we shared this post about our Merino Travellers. This year, as we continue to improve our manufacturing process and share it with you, we worked with a local business to mill and dye the Merino we use in our winter Traveller range.
Join us in a virtual tour of the Melbourne factory who process our Woolmark-certified Merino fabric and dye it in our delicious custom Obus colours.
The factory, located in an outer suburb of Melbourne, are an industry leader committed to low-impact high-quality Merino wool processing and dyeing. They LOVE Merino, and as Australia is the world’s biggest producer of fine Merino, they work closely with farmers to source the best quality fibres that tick the social, ethical and environmental demands we - as a business and as customers - put on them.
Employing around 65 locals, the factory believes that environment does not have to be sacrificed for quality. They strive to continually lower the impact normally associated with textile production. They even have an on-site water treatment plant, where a staggering 85% of the water used in the manufacturing is able to be reused!
When the milling and dyeing is complete, our Merino is cut and sewn by our local makers into our tried and true TRAVELLER silhouettes, before joining other new arrivals on the shop floor. So by choosing Obus for your winter Merino layers, you’re choosing to support local makers and manufacturers - and low environmental impact - through and through!Shop all our Melbourne-made Travellers here.
If you’re a long-time lover of Obus, you’ll know we’ve always been committed to local manufacturing.
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After almost 20 years, we’re proud to say 80% of our garments are still made here in Australia, by a family business we’ve worked with for years. Where each and every item is made is listed in its description, and you can link right through to our full manufacturing, environmental & social impact information page from our home page too.
Obus clothing made in Melbourne, featuring environmentally friendly fabrics such as cotton, Tencel, and Bamboo. In recent years, we've moved from screenprinting to digital printing for our original textile designs, as this process uses less water and resources overall.
It’s exciting to update this info with each new collection and product we develop, finding accredited suppliers who aren’t hurting the earth (or the people on it!). Last year, we blogged about our eco-friendly Australian-made swimwear, as well as our ethically sourced Merino.
Obus swimwear (left) is manufactured in Sydney from fabric made of regenerated post-consumer waste such as carpets, clothing and fishing nets. Our MERINO TRAVELLERS (right), are made in Melbourne from wool that complies with strict ethical and environmental standards.
There’s always more to do on a #fashionrevolution journey, but we like to start at home. For more about Fashion Revolution and their impact around the globe, visit their website.
Our 2017 swim collection has been flying out the door, and it’s no wonder - not only does it look great on every body, it’s made ethically in Australia from sustainable, recycled fabric.