It’s clear that Felicity Cooney was born to make things. A quick glimpse at the designer’s Instagram account will show you her interest goes beyond tinkering in the fashion space, as she dabbles between hobbies of textile and print design, furniture upcycling, leather work, interior design and much more.
Speaking to me from her home workshop on the Sunshine Coast, Felicity says it was a desire to be a part of the slow fashion movement and to make an Australian product with minimal impact on the planet that led her to launch her self-titled label.
The designer spent time abroad studying fashion at Central St-Martins in London and the Parsons New School in New York. It was in New York where she learnt about fashion waste and theories to help reduce the amount of waste in the design process.
“When I’m designing my bags I do so in a way to reduce the amount of waste that’s made using a theory I learnt at Parsons called zero waste pattern cutting. With this in mind, I make design decisions such as making a leather zipper pull out of a part that would get thrown away as waste,” she says.
When it came to choosing fabrics for the brand’s bags and shoes, Felicity said it was an easy choice.
“I knew I wanted to work with leather, because it’s going to last the longest and be the best quality for the type of bags and shoes that I was making,” she says.
“In Australia, we have a surplus of kangaroos which are often killed for various meats and other products. By using sustainably farmed kangaroo leather for my products, I’m using a bi-product that would otherwise get thrown away.”
Focusing on bags, shoes and at times apparel and other accessories, Felicity’s designs are all ethically made in Australia, on the Sunshine Coast and in Melbourne, much of it by the designer herself.
The Felicity Cooney bags feature unique leather work in various styles ranging from market totes to cross-body bags in bright and bold colours. The summer bag is one of the Felicity’s unique designs and has become instantly recognisable as a Felicity Cooney staple.
Felicity makes efforts to reduce waste and the label’s impact on the planet through the design and production phases, and runs her design studio using renewable energy.
Her shoe collection includes colourful and classic sandals and comfortable leather lace up shoes – ethically made in Melbourne and designed on the Sunshine Coast. She also makes some apparel, sticking with a quirky but minimalist design which she says that along with her other accessories, appeal to a wide range of women who like to support unique and ethical designers.