Brigid McLaughlin always wanted to be a fashion designer. “I remember finding a brochure on the floor at home that my eldest sister had left lying about on a Fashion Design course. From that moment on I knew.”
After studying Fine Arts at the University of Sydney, McLaughlin followed her dream and studied Fashion Design at the National Art School. Her journey in fashion saw her working for Charlie Brown, moving to London to join the team at Issey Miyake, returning to Australia to work for David Lawrence and Lisa Ho, before launching her own eponymous label in 2006.
But it was her childhood spent living on the land that really steered her brand on the path it is on today and has seen the designer go full circle from her childhood upbringing to her work as a fashion designer.
Prior to her move to Sydney, McLaughlin spent her childhood on ‘Merryanbone’, a Merino wool-growing property in New South Wales, Australia, a place she says will always feel like home.
“I was very fortunate to grow up there,” says McLaughlin. “I think my country childhood nurtured my creativity which was greatly encouraged by my artistic mother and industrious father. The wide, open spaces and vast sky seem to get more beautiful as I get older. I also firmly believe it instilled very sustainable practices in the way I live my life and run my company.”
Devoted to the creation of ‘slow’ clothing, it’s McLaughlin’s team of master craftspeople and the use of natural, luxury fabrics that produces the sustainable fashion she champions so passionately.
“I believe wool to be one of the most sustainable fibres and should be central to the sustainable fashion movement. I believe fast fashion to be destroying both our environment and the fashion industry, with only the very large scale mass producers of disposable fast fashion appearing to be the winners at the expense of our environment.
“Whether it is knitwear or tailoring, what I love most about wool is the way it falls and the way it can be sculptured into organic shapes. You need to let wool tell you what to do as a designer, that is what I love the most, and it makes my job easier; the soft handle, the warmth, I even love the smell of wet wool, it reminds me of home. A customer recently tried on a piece of our woollen knitwear to declare it felt like receiving a big hug. That’s what I love about wool.”
And so it’s no wonder that the Brigid McLaughlin label heavily features the use of Australian Merino wool throughout its collections, creating timeless, classic pieces made to last. Known for its clean lines and neutral colour palette, the label has garnered a cult of loyal followers who have fallen in love for the high quality.
“Our customers appreciate our quality and we have become known for our fine fabrics, which is what really sets us apart. Once I have collected all the fabrics I love for a season, I work with them until they start to tell a story. Once the story becomes apparent I will often design the print to tie the narrative or theme together.”
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