Denim may be synonymous with a pair of jeans or a jacket, but not to Harriet Doran. Instead of taking up a pair of vintage denim and refitting it, Doran will grab some shearing scissors, shred it into strips and knit a brand new top. Now that is reworked denim (not a pair of vintage Levi's that have been tailored to fit you!).

Born and raised in Australia, Doran shares her passion for handmade clothing like her peers. While she has yet to be displayed at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Doran is the one to watch. Her reworked denim garments recently featured on Sticks and Stones Agency, an Australia-based online magazine known for its cutting-edge editorials and killer Instagram game. The support from her own country proves that Australia is ready to take the fashion industry's crown.

Upon discovering her clothing on Sticks and Stones Agency, I feel the desire to know more about Doran. Here, we chat via e-mail about handmade clothing, working with denim and the importance of going local.


How did you get into fashion and why does it matter to you?

I grew up in a family of creatives - my mother worked in the industry and I found I was happiest sitting in her fabric basket watching her create. I suppose my love for fashion started there. I think fashion is a really powerful form of expression; it's always been my way of connecting my thoughts with people.

You are currently based in Melbourne and lately, Australia is starting to gain attention as an emerging fashion destination. How do you feel about Australia's rise in the fashion industry?

It's truly exciting that Australian designers are being recognised internationally... The industry is full of innovative designers and it's because of them that we are being recognised as an emerging fashion capital. It's such an inspiring place to be at the moment, there is a buss amongst the smaller handmade labels..People are wanting unique fashion and fashion that holds a story.

I've noticed that the majority of Australian fashion designers like Discount Universe and yourself tend to focus on producing handmade clothing/hand-finished products. What brings you to do handmade/hand-finished clothing?

I think it brings the personal element back into clothing. I find that we are bombarded with fast fashion and latest trends these days in Australia that we often forget the person who has created that garment and the story in the garments creation. It's such a joy to be able to create clothing that's unique and made in Melbourne.

What I love about your clothing is that you focus on using recycled denim to make halter tops, dresses and skirts. How did you get into the idea of using recycled denim?

My obsession with recycling denim started in my final year of university when we were asked to create a couture gown out of denim. On my hunt for denim I was amazed at how many pairs of jeans people had sitting in their wardrobes. I researched more into denim and how it impacts the environment.

I was surprised to discover that one pair of jeans alone uses 11,000 liters of water and could take years to biodegrade. With this new knowledge, I decided to change the way I saw a pair of jeans and took the challenge to transform them into something completely new. My creative process started there... stripping, knitting, dyeing, bletching!

On top of that, you also knit your clothes from denim. Since it is not a traditional material to use in knitting, what challenges have you faced while using it?

At first it was completely frustrating... but I had a vision and I was determined to make it work. The challenge was turning recycled jeans in to a pliable yarn. Once I got that down pat, it was fun seeing the texture and colour ways evolve in the process.

You also use locally sourced textiles, as evident in your wool turtleneck sweater. Why do you choose to use locally sourced textiles and what impact does it have when you go local?

It has been a really important process for me to source local textiles. My mission when starting the label was to keeping the production and design process from start to finish here. I've loved getting to know local suppliers and learning their story because I am constantly learning new knowledge about textiles and production. I think supporting local is not only positive for the economy but helps to encourage and make people aware of local artists and creatives. There is such a wonderful verity of them here in Melbourne and I feel fortunate to be a part of it!

Your clothing is primarily focused on "made to order", which is becoming a trend among up-and-coming designers. What directs you to being a "made to order" designer?

It comes back to the personal element of clothing. I love my customers knowing that each garment is hand sewn by either my mother or I. We take pride in making garments that will last and can be mixed and matched with other items in your wardrobe. It is also a great starting point for me as a new label; I can keep control of the processes it takes to create each garment!

Lastly, do you plan to expand your clothing line?

I hope to eventually! [It's in] such early stages of my label and I'm still very new to it all. But I have big hopes to open a pop-up store in the future where garments are still hand made in season and I can work on custom designs too.