The art of printmaking is one that Melbourne-based textile designer Cassie Byrnes holds close to her heart.
With her label Variety Hour she creates unique, hand-painted designs, which are digitally and screen printed onto textiles for fashion and homewares. This detailed approach, Cassie says, is what inspired her brand in the first place.
“I felt like print was becoming saturated in the market. My prints can take over 100 hours from start to finish plus months of sampling and you won’t get that type of dedication in the commercial world as you are expected to create a print everyday,” she says.
“I don’t think the process is respected enough in the fashion industry and that’s why there are so many bad prints out there. I have a lot of printed vintage dresses that I love and before I studied I remember being so fascinated by the prints and in complete wonder of how they repeated and how they got on the fabric.
“I want to continue to create prints that bring that joy and wonderment.”
But the process of designing and creating the prints is just one aspect of the brand. After that Cassie coordinates the digital and screen printing, the design of the clothes and textiles, where they’re made (often here in Australia) and how they’re dispatched. For her textiles, she opts for silk, linen and viscose.
“I majored in screen printing at university so I got hooked on silk in the print room because it is technically the best fibre to print on,” she says.
“This is still true with digital, you get the strongest and most deepest colour and texture. There are some designs I will only print on silk due to the intensity needed to see the watercolour marks. The downside is it’s very expensive.
“All fabrics I use are 100% degradable, but have been looking into advancements in man made fibres which use PET recycling.”
Living in Melbourne, once a thriving manufacturing hub of textiles, Cassie says she always saw the importance of supporting her community.
“All our fashion manufacturing is done here in Melbourne by my maker Jimmy and his small family-run business,” she says.
“I am lucky that Jimmy along with my pattern maker, sample machinist and grader are close by so I am always busy visiting them, and have formed really close relationships with them all.”
With the textile printing, Cassie says she uses some local and some offshore printers.
“Digital is a fairly new technology and buying a digital printer is ridiculously expensive and the technology is evolving quickly. So it’s hard for local printers to keep up with Europe and Asia,” she says.
“I am currently working with a local screen printer, one of two yardage printers left in Melbourne. We are developing some crazy print applications together which I am excited about.”
Cassie says the Variety Hour clothes are for everybody, hence the term ‘variety’ in the name. Creating collections in sizes 8 – 18, she designs with many body shapes in mind.
“I have never understood pretentiousness in the fashion industry, to me it’s all about the customer and making them feel fabulous,” she says.
“You know that item in your wardrobe you always wear when you have nothing to wear and you just always feel really good and confident when you throw it on. That is what I inspire to create every time I design.”
Variety Hour has also released a homewares collection with a range of printed tea towels, posters to hang at home and unique throws knitted in the USA.
Find out more and shop Variety Hour here.