Cameron Robert McCormick standing in a paddock with a garment rack with dresses on it.

How Growing Up in a Country Town Gives These Fashion Designers a Cutting Edge

Cameron Robert McCormick is a household name in Manila, which admittedly is only a city of a few thousand people.

He is well known for teaming up with the local leather goods maker to create Lady Gaga-inspired heels, dressing girls in custom dresses, and using his fashion-forward mother as one of his role models.

While not necessarily a thriving fashion hub, with a single clothing store that doubles as a hardware store, McCormick still found opportunities to express himself and nurture his passion.

“I’ve always been into fashion and clothing, I really loved book week at school,” he said.

McCormick enlists friends to model his clothes.(ABC New England: Kathleen Ferguson)

The 26-year-old is expanding his reach after launching his eponymous label.

He returned home during the pandemic and took the opportunity to launch his brand which is centered around bespoke pieces to ensure affordability and durability.

“The country gave me space,” he said.

“I’ve been able to set up a studio here and can devote a lot more time to it because I’m not traveling around the hustle and bustle of Sydney.”

Cameron Robert McCormick strips a dress from her shed while standing next to a ute.
Cameron Robert McCormick uses his agronomist father’s ute as a mobile studio for a photo shoot.(ABC New England: Kathleen Ferguson)

Her homecoming and launch of her first line was made even more special by talented childhood friends and a widower who donated a shed full of fabric.

The vintage floral prints in her collection are as authentic as they look.

“It was basically an entire fabric storage shed because she [the late wife] was a quilter,” he said.

“She was sadly deceased and he thought I would be the best person to have her, so I used a lot of her fabrics in my first collection.”

He also hired three friends to model, photograph, and provide makeup and a location on the farm for the first shoot of his collection.

McCormick’s label was woven with the support of his family and community.

McCormick isn’t alone in looking to sustainably produce high-end fashion from the NSW region.

The Mufti-day rebel creates his own label

Meg Wilcher also took every opportunity to dress up during her school years.

Her favorite form of rebellion during her teenage years at Tamworth was the clothes she wore.

Meg Wilcher modeling her own clothes.
Meg Wilcher used fashion to express herself growing up in the countryside.(ABC New England: Kathleen Ferguson)

The 28-year-old Melbourne-based fashion designer was packing an extra pair of clothes on mufti days to put on once she had left the family home.

“There are photos of me when I was five and my favorite outfit was a double-belted tank top, mini skirt, leopard print, with multiple butterfly clips in my hair.”

Interestingly, the designer did not attach herself to textiles as a material despite learning sewing from her mother who was a textile teacher.

Wilcher attributed the decision to creative differences with teachers.

But this decision was an early demonstration of her unwavering commitment to expressing her authentic self, which helped guide her through the world of fashion.

Wilcher’s time with major brands exposed her to the realities of mass production and harmful effect industry has on the environment, but it has also inspired her to help create change.

A model wearing a long-sleeved shirt and sweatpants.
Meg Wilcher’s label is all about sustainability and mental health.(Provided: Meg Wilcher)

“I could use my platform and my voice to lead by example and set standards.”

Wilcher is working towards what she believes to be the standard, bringing her label, After Studios, entirely ashore to improve sustainability.

But the process hasn’t been easy or cheap, especially when some brands are still not on board.

“I always walk this tightrope, but the greater the demand, the greater the supply,” she said.

Wilcher not only considers his impact on the environment, but also the people who want to wear his clothes.

“I have a pretty strong instinct to create things that fit a purpose in the first place, trying to do it as responsibly as possible, but also as inclusively as possible,” she said. declared.

She now reconciles ethical fashion with a new vision for her label, one that emphasizes mental health.

“My brand change leans a bit more towards dressing up your mood and honoring how you feel and checking in on others.”

From grandma’s house to a fashion show

Elizabeth Murray grew up in Nemingha, just outside Tamworth, where she learned to sew aged four and completed a highly competitive TAFE fashion course.

The young designer said she found her style during the course, but it was her grandmother’s passion for fashion that first inspired her.

Elizabeth Murray stands with women modeling clothes as part of her class runway event.
Elizabeth Murray wants people to make their wardrobes more sustainable. (Provided: Elizabeth Murray)

She said her grandmother “always wore matching colors and matching pinks.”

The pair explored styles in the operating stores, but some of the yarns they picked up were deemed a little too loud to debut on the high street and were reserved for her grandmother’s house.

A model wearing Elizabeth Murray's clothes while posing with a horse.
A model wears Elizabeth Murray’s clothes.(Provided: Elizabeth Murray)

“The Vinnies in Tamworth was crazy, it’s one of the best operation stores ever,” she said.

Savings remains an important part of her personal mission statement as a way to limit waste, get creative, and not get carried away with the lure of a new outfit for every occasion.

Murray is taking a year off from the intensity of completing his fashion course during the coronavirus pandemic.

When her label is ready to launch, she plans to have it made in Australia to create local jobs and ensure it helps reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

But there’s one thing she wants consumers to do now to help the cause walk more lightly on this planet.

“My brand is definitely going to be about things you can wear over and over again and if you need something to spice it up…go to the operation store,” she said.

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