My first ‘real’ fashion show

by Mackenna Elwin

On May 6, 2021, I took part in my first ‘real’ fashion event when I walked the runway for Melbourne-based non-profit organisation Revival Runway. Coordinated almost entirely by a volunteer crew of fashion and music students the night showcased 11 of Melbourne’s up and coming independent local fashion brands. 

Mackenna Elwin first fashion show MAIN

Mackenna Elwin wearing Reigner. Image: Imogen Turnbull

It was so exciting being a part of the Revival Runway show; my nervous energy was exerted in untimely dance moves and whacky conversations with the other participants. I got to be involved with the Revival Runway event through my COLLARTS Fashion community, answering a call for ‘models wanted’ posted by Brianna Columbara, the head stylist for the event and a fellow COLLARTS fashion student. 

Honestly, the thought of modelling was a touch scary. Although it is something I have dreamed of doing since my younger sister and I dressed up from our costume box filled with an accumulation of my mother’s and grandmother’s hand-me-downs and costumes. Pushing my insecurities aside I put my name down and dragged my friend along for courage and support. With zero experience in modelling or runway shows, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was anxious as hell regarding my role in the night’s show. I felt a level of responsibility as to how the event would play out, but there was an overwhelming amount of support from everyone involved, which quickly alleviated my concerns. 

In the hours leading up the event, everyone had their role to play – volunteers were steaming garments, MCs were rehearsing their speeches, models were timing their walks, and the makeup artists were prepping the models. There seemed to be so much going on behind the scenes that there was a definite undercurrent of anxiety, but the incredible vibe from all involved helped to soothe any worries I had. 

As the crowd started flowing in the door, out backstage we were all itching for the show to start. Beginning with the unconventional expressionism of Melbourne streetwear brand Scenic Flaws I was ready to take to the runway. Unaware of the crowd that had gathered for the night’s event, one by one the models stepped out into the lights onto the runway. Trying not to make direct eye contact with the crowd, my game face stared straight ahead whilst my brain ran on overdrive trying to time my steps with the music that played overhead. 

Approaching the end of the runway, before I had to step down, I was trying to imagine poses in my head. Honestly, the first few felt very unnatural but each time I deliberately tried to position myself differently than the last and it became easier as the show progressed. 

The rush to change my outfit almost felt so much longer than our walk across the runway. It was quite challenging, all of the models and volunteers crammed into such a small space trying to change before giving the crowd a moment to think. However, the applause from the crowd invited us out with more confidence as we walked each new designer’s garments. As someone who spends an excessive amount of time getting ready at home, I didn’t think it was possible to change into an entirely new outfit in under 10 seconds. Though I have to give most of the credit to those assisting us with this backstage as they had the new garments ready for us to slide into.  

Each designer and their garments had its own unique style as their labels transcended individuality and creativity. Silver Issousfon, stylist and designer of Scenic Flaws, creates unorthodox garments that challenge contemporary fashion ideas, a futuristic look on streetwear.  Another modern take on streetwear was seen in LHClothing, I loved the classic cuts and quirky features that Lauren brings to each design. The time-honoured tailoring of Reigner’s suits was an absolute treat and James’s sartorial vision made an impact on the runway. 

Having come across Remuse Designs early in 2020, I was excited to walk Tamara’s Afro-futuristic garments on the runway, a celebration of movement and fluidity. In similarity, the versatile designs of Jude Ng are unique, as his fashion forward technique creates unconventional shapes. The bias silhouettes of Project Bowen’s pieces made me feel like a flirtatious criminal whilst the dress I wore from Vow studio brought out my carefree femininity. 

The construction-led approach to RawEms on trend pieces, explore shape and pattern with reconstructive confidence and freedom of creativity. I could tell instantly when putting on my Hew garments that these pieces were made with quality fibres. Another brand whose ethos I admire are those of Yevu, their vibrant designs create transformative opportunities for women in Ghana. I also had a lot of fun when wearing Mazi, stepping back in time, their vintage inspired pieces oozed feminine individuality. 

The one concept that bound all the featured designers together is their commitment to slow, ethically produced fashion and it was a privilege to be able to parade them at the Revival Runway Show. 

Prior to this event, I had no knowledge of Revival Runway and the unique concept that this organisation has to offer. The non-profit organisation offers a platform to promote small local fashion businesses, with a focus on ethical and sustainable manufacturing. The team volunteers their time creating content and events that bring consumer awareness to the amazing talent we have in our own backyard.  

The globalisation of the fashion industry has made it easier and cheaper for consumers to purchase clothing, however, this is having a detrimental impact on our local creative community. With the ‘shop local’ trend becoming synonymous with shopping responsibly, there couldn’t be a better time to elevate the creative community we have here in Australia. Revival Runway inspires and encourages fashion enthusiasts and consumers alike to value the talents of independent and emerging Australian labels. 

Currently studying Fashion Design & Sustainability at COLLARTS, I have so much respect for what the Revival Runway offers to the local community of consciously made fashion. 

I moved to Melbourne six years ago, from a small town in central NSW. It was the creative industry that drew me to move to Melbourne, the music, the arts and of course the fashion community. It wasn’t until I started the COLLARTS Fashion Sustainability course, this time last year, did I completely trust that I am in the right place for myself. In recent years my own personal growth and education has refined my values of ethical manufacturing and a conscientious design approach to fashion. 

I believe that knowledge is vital for systemic change within the fashion industry. In addition to studying full-time I also work for a Melbourne-based Fairtrade apparel company called Etiko

The fashion industry, as we know, is a rapidly growing industry contributing to global emissions and waste accumulation. In saying this, it thrills me to be a part of a network that is continually looking to support ethical and sustainable designers. 

Discover more interesting independent Australian fashion brands in our list of Brands & Designers.