For Melbourne-based designer Tara Whalley, an invitation to feature in a local fashion exhibition was the motivation needed to kick start her self-titled label.
Having already spent time designing textiles and accessories, she was keen to create a clothing line that embodied her experience travelling and working Guatemala.
“I had just come back from living in Guatemala for a year working with war-affected weavers and I had a strong appreciation for hand made items that could be treasured,” Whalley says.
“I love painting and translating my travel experiences and artefacts that catch my eye into textiles. I studied a Bachelor of Arts and Textile Design so I tend to translate experiences through that lens.”
Her first collection featured a number of ethically made, hand-dyed pieces, and was exhibited at We Wear Future in 2015. It sold out completely.
Tara Whalley has since been established as a colourful print-focused label with a focus on natural fabrics, ethically made in Melbourne by local seamstresses.
Whalley says she loves this aspect of her label and feels that there’s something special about knowing everyone who brings the garments to life.
“It is a lovely experience when someone asks you where your clothing is from, and you have a whole story to tell. It’s an experience in itself.”
To reduce waste throughout the collections, Whalley produces limited runs so she doesn’t have any leftover fabric, and if she has a couple of meters spare she uses it to develop new shapes.
The clothes themselves are made with natural, high quality fabrics and designed to be comfortable for the wearer, no matter their age or size.
“I believe that everyone should feel lovely in the clothes they are wearing, so I have an inclusive size range that fits sizes small to 3xL,” Whalley says.
“My shapes are comfortable and timeless so I find women who appreciate something a little special and appreciate unique designs with a story love shopping my collections.”
Tara Whalley’s Tienda Rosy collection took out the Fashion Category in the 2019 Frankie Good Stuff Awards. It features a range of artworks Whalley painted while revisiting Guatemala last summer – capturing rare plants, fresh fruit and the architecture of where she used to live.
She says that creating textiles with a story means she’s creating garments that can be treasured – items people will wear and love for years to come.