Canberra has always been a step ahead of the game when it comes to renewable energy. Last week a new space dedicated to renewable energy innovation, with an intriguing tie to fashion, was proudly launched here in the nations capital. The <2 degrees Renewables Innovation Hub is an initiative of the ACT government and takes the form of a flexible, collaborative workspace where innovative start-ups and organisations from Australia as well as around the world can work alongside each other to combat climate change. Fourteen businesses have already signed up to work from the Hub.
As wonderful as this is, what has it got to do with fashion? The story starts with Canberra fashion label Zilpah Tart and a print the designer behind the label, Yumi Morrisey, created for her most recent Fashfest collection. Yumi takes photographs of Canberra and the surrounding region, which she then manipulates to develop the signature prints that grace her dresses, accessories, and homewares.
The print that pertains to this story is the Wind Turbine Print, created from a photograph taken at Crookwell Wind Farm which, when it was first built, was the largest wind farm in the country. This print was one of three that featured in the latest collection from Zilpah Tart presented a few months ago on the Fashfest runway (catch up on our runway report here). In the audience sat Anita Healy, the Communications and Engagement Manager for Climate Change and Sustainability. After being told of the origins of the wind turbine print, Anita reached out to Yumi with a collaboration for the <2 degrees Renewables Innovation Hub in mind.
For as well as being a place for industry innovators to fight climate change, the Hub aims to showcase the work of local creatives exploring renewables. Two framed artworks of the Zilpah Tart wind turbine print were purchased and are now on display. Yumi spoke at the official launch while wearing a dress also featuring her now famous print. The thematic exploration of renewables through fashion helps to open a broader dialogue about our climate. As a designer and entrepreneur who understands the commercial value of her creative work, in collaborating with the <2 degrees Renewables Innovation Hub, Yumi can now spread this important message further.
With the fashion industry being one of the world’s biggest polluters, the link between fashion and renewable energy innovation is an important one. Many brands and designers around the world are making changes to ensure more sustainable and ethical practice and others, like Zilpah Tart, explore these themes within the garments they design, raising awareness of these global issues. As consumers we have the power to vote with our wallets and should therefore be mindful of the impact we as individuals can have on our climate through how we consume fashion.
From Left: Dorte Ekelund, Director-General Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, Ken Baldwin, Founding Director of the ANU Energy Change Institute, Sarah Pearson, CEO, CBR Innovation Network, Yumi Morrissey, Director Zilpah Tart, and Shane Rattenbury, Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability