Lee Duffield

Edited by Lee Duffield
Freedom and Truth

Fashion students debut at Ekka parades

The Ekka Cotton and Wool Parades are back for the first time this decade – allowing fashion students to launch their careers in front of 60,000 people.

Thirteen Queensland University of Technology students have been invited onto the Ekka runway this week to join Brisbane’s biggest designers including George Wu and Paul Hunt.

QUT fashions are making a mark in Queensland's largest publicly accessible parades.  Photo: Jessica Uhlmann.

QUT fashions are making a mark in Queensland's largest publicly accessible parades. Photo: Jessica Uhlmann.

Second-year student Chelsea Whitbread is among the group of young designers and is making her fashion debut by showcasing a black wool swimsuit.

Chelsea says the parades are an amazing opportunity and an important milestone for her label, Van Eysden.

“Previously I’ve done shows in front of about 30 people, so this is a big step for me and I feel like I am taking huge leaps in my career,” Chelsea says.

“It’s a massive compliment to have my work displayed alongside inspiring Brisbane designers and it definitely makes the 34 hours of sewing worthwhile.”

Fellow second-year student Katrina Gaskin is also honoured to be showcasing a swimsuit at the Ekka.

Katrina says the experience is “just crazy” and she jokes about the parades exceeding her initial expectations.

“I had no idea the QUT swimsuits would be shown alongside other amazing designers… I thought there may have been a little show on a public stage,” Katrina says.

Katrina and Chelsea’s swimsuits have been chosen for the parades because they embody this year’s theme of ‘Wrapped in Natural Fibres’.

The theme is about innovatively celebrating the state’s cotton and wool industries through swimwear, daywear, casual and evening wear.

QUT fashion coordinator Dean Brough says his students are well represented in the parades, with 12 models dressed in QUT fashions.

Fashion Event Director Lindsay Bennett has branded the students as “the state’s upcoming champions of couture” and says the work is of high quality.

“The parades carry all of the extravagance of the fashion world on a scale typically reserved for the industry itself,” Mr Bennett says.

The QUT students are joined on the runway by a group of Griffith University students and 17 other designers.

The parades run three times daily until Saturday, August 14.