Julie White: Alter Native

local artist and designer Julie White returns to Adelaide with new collection Alter Native for her eponymous clothing label and a refreshed view of the Adelaide fashion industry.

Local artist and designer Julie White recently completed a Masters in Textile Print at the prestigious Glasgow School of Art. Channelling homesickness into her craft, white returns to Adelaide with new collection Alter Native for her eponymous clothing label and a refreshed view of the Adelaide fashion industry. White confesses that she has always relied on nature for inspiration, although she was struck by the extent to which she missed Australian flora and fauna while in the UK, especially during the harsh Glasgow winter. “Living in the UK made me miss the Australian wilderness in a way that really shook me up,” she says. “For me, sugar gliders and waratahs are a part of home, but people in the UK think of them as exotic. Realising that really changed the way I thought about Australia.” Alter Native is a collection of oversized shirt dresses, open jackets, pleated trousers and blouses splashed with colourful original prints that are inspired by native blossoms and some furry critters that are entirely conceived by White. For her, the creative process is a rather laborious one, even before she chooses a suitable fabric. “I start by getting obsessed with something. If I can’t shake it off, I’ll start using it in my designs. Then I’ll do a lot of research, drawing as I go. Gradually a theme emerges. Sometimes it’s on the first day but more often it takes weeks. The Glasgow School of Art is an impressive 165-year-old institution that enjoys a boastful roll call of alumni, including Oscar winning director and Doctor Who actor Peter Capaldi and the Sculptor in Ordinary to The Queen in Scotland, Alexander Stoddart. White was suitably in awe by the history entrenched in the city. “It was inspiring living in a place responsible for some of the world’s most iconic textiles. Scottish textile designers are hardcore about their craft; it’s as if they have centuries of tradition to live up to. “Scotland also taught me that you can deep fry a pizza,” she laughs. Besides new skills and appreciation for her field, White has taken from her studies abroad a new outlook that ensures her future collections fulfill her creative intentions. “I’ve refined my ability to make exactly what I want. When I started I had to compromise all the time. I don’t do that anymore. I’ve always wanted to create one of a kind, collectible pieces that are treasured beyond the seasons. Those are the types of garments that made me fall in love with fashion. Not the trends, but the limited editions.” White can confirm that a consistent element to her collections will be her “lifelong love affair with fl ora and fauna”. While she isn’t divulging exactly what her focus will be for future collections, she hints that she will continue to celebrate her own interpretation of modern Australiana, and has discovered a new focus in creating accessories. “Right now I’m obsessed with scarves. There’s so much you can do with scarves – I can make the prints as bold as I like within the perimeters of a square.” Upon her return to Australia, White has seen a change in Adelaide’s fashion scene since her departure, one that is much more optimistic and “charged for change”, but there are still a few home truths that her travels have made clear. “Adelaide will never be the centre of Australian fashion. As soon as you can admit that you realise it’s an advantage; it’s an opportunity to be distinct from the obvious stuff that you’ll find in the centre. We should be aiming at that audience who are able to recognise that there’s something fresh and undiscovered about Adelaide. I feel like you can say that now and people will believe you, whereas a few years ago they wouldn’t.” While she feels it would be “foolish to make predictions” on where the Adelaide fashion industry would lead, she has a similar feeling toward her own career. “I really don’t think about my career. I just thought about making great clothes — garments that can change the way people feel about themselves. Clothing has that potential and it is fascinating trying to figure it out. If I can do that my career will take care of itself.” juliewhite.bigcartel.com

Adelaide In-depth

Get the latest stories, insights and exclusive giveaways delivered straight to your inbox every week.