THE CHALLENGES OF OPERATING IN THE EVER-CHANGING INDUSTRY OF FASHION HAVE NEVER BEEN GREATER.
The modern consumers’ growing love of online shopping for cheap, mass produced apparel from overseas, delivered straight to their door has seen the need for Australian designers to rapidly adapt to a changing market.
Consumers’ purchase habits have drastically altered from traditional models and the ‘offline’ fashion field becomes harder to successfully play in. While major retail fashion chains seemingly struggle to juggle sluggish in store sales, high overheads and smaller margins, one Townsville fashionista is bucking the trend and expanding her thriving local business into bigger and better premises to keep up with demand.
Despite her own booming business, Peta Cripps, director of Peta C Dressmaking, agrees that competition with overseas distributors is making the industry much more difficult. “The fashion industry in Australia is a dying trade, it’s difficult to compete with cheap overseas labour and conditions. Even high schools these days are dropping subjects such as home economics, they just don’t think it’s an important skill anymore like it was for earlier generations.”
Regardless of online or offline purchase habits, the consumers’ expectation for quality remains high. While the convenience of online purchases has it’s advantages, the experience that comes from a personal consultation to individually craft a handmade, one of a kind piece, custom made for your special event is truly unbeatable, with hundreds of Peta’s local clients a testament to that.
Peta’s love of sewing was the creative outlet that first drew her to the fashion industry. “It wasn’t fashion that caught my eye, it was sewing, being able to create things with my hands. I was 15 years old and left school half way through year 10, I just wasn’t that type of person who could sit in one spot listening to the teacher,” she laughs.
“My first job was working on school uniforms which I did for five years, this is where I was able to advance my skills learning from experienced seamstresses. From there I moved onto corporate uniforms where I gained a position with a large manufacturer as production manager and sample machinist, and at 20 years old I had 20 other women looking up to me for guidance.”
After furthering her experience and skill set, Peta delved into the designer fashion world and began sample sewing for local Brisbane designers. “This is where my love of fashion began. Before too long I wanted to go out on my own and I began sewing for customers privately from home.”
This home business grew very quickly it wasn’t too long before Peta would obtain her own store in the prestigious Brisbane Arcade in Queen Street Mall. “This is where I launched Peta C Designs. Those years were so much fun. Getting to create gorgeous gowns for clients, this is where my heart is. To see a woman feel so good, so confident in a garment that I created, is a blessing.”
In 2013 Peta and her husband left the hustle and bustle of Brisbane and relocated to Townsville where her husband had found work as a commercial pilot. During this time the pair welcomed children to their family and Peta took six years away from her work to raise her children.
“I became a bored housewife once the kids were at school,” Peta laughs. “I missed my work and decided to kick things off again.”
Peta began sewing from home again and before too long was moving into her own Townsville shop, this time in Mooney Street, where she has spent the last three years creating tailor made garments.
Three years of tremendous growth and demand for her amazing creations has now seen her outgrow these premises and Peta C Dressmaking will open at their new home at 81 Ingham Road in August where Peta will continue to do exactly what she loves, “I feel very proud to do what I do”.
With a growing number of ambitious local fashion designers, Townsville’s need for a local institute to harbor these talents has never been greater. Local events such as the Townsville Fashion Festival are unearthing hidden talent amongst our community, however handfuls of these creatives are forced to leave our city every year in search of the training and facilities to advance their skills and passion. While Peta agrees that the need to go elsewhere for training is unavoidable at the moment, she believes that designers should consider Townsville as a base to work from, saying “Townsville is a different scene, there’s room for everybody here. It’s not like the competition in capital cities, and the demand is definitely here!”