Welcome to the creative, colourful world of fashion brand Emipeli Design

Emipeli Design is the colourful creation of artist, maker, sewist and designer Emily Rastas. Launched in 2018, the brand started out with small accessories in Brisbane, had a break, and has now developed into a sustainable fashion brand based in Geelong.

“Emipeli was out of action for most of 2019 when I developed chronic pain after a series of injuries and slowly re-emerged as a sustainable brand in the following years,” explains Emily.

CC geelong fashion EMIPELI designer interview

Like many designers, Emily started out young. 

“When I was 12 years old I remember asking my Mum if she would teach me how to sew. The first garment we made together was a pair of blue denim overalls with pink straps, mint buttons and a floral pocket on the front. 

“During my teenage years I developed a deep love for clothing and personal style, in years where I didn’t have a whole lot of self love, clothing gave me a confidence that nothing else could.

“I studied fashion for one semester at RMIT before a holiday to Europe turned into cancelling my flight home and moving to Austria with only a suitcase. I decided to pursue costume design and got experience in films, music videos, theatre and opera, after two years I moved to Dublin and studied SFX and prosthetic makeup before moving to London and working mainly in theatre and commission based design.

“I then moved to Brisbane where Emipeli was founded, the name came from a conversation with my best friend, I wanted something that reflected my Finnish heritage and using google translate she suggested Emipeli – Emi for Emily and Peli, a noun for ‘play’ in Finnish.”


Launching a brand is never easy. While working part-time as a bar-tender in Brisbane, Emily began with scrunchies and purses made of PVC that were stuffed with found objects like confetti and sequins.

“I always dreamt of building it to be a bigger brand but at the end of 2018 I injured my back badly and developed chronic pain. Not being able to sit at a sewing machine any longer than 10 minutes left me defeated and ready to give up my career.

“I started painting and upcycling things I’d found at the op shop, I still had the desire to create but was physically and financially very limited. Slowly over two years I regained strength and during lockdown in 2020 I made my first wearable art piece in years, suddenly the other things I wanted to do didn’t seem out of reach and I ended up having a solo exhibition exploring my journey in 2020 called Feel Heal, which spurred my confidence and career.

“My experience with chronic pain led me to sustainability, when I could barely work or afford fabrics to create, I started going to thrift stores and sourcing deadstock fabrics. After a while I began to realise how much already exists in the world and question why I would ever need to buy or manufacture new.”


Emily’s distinct aesthetic may appear to be inspired by colourful confectionery but her design icons are some of the more vibrant, stars like Leigh Bowery, Nick Cave (for his visual art) Yayoi Kusama, Rachel Burke, Sophie Cochevelou and Bas Kosters.

When it comes to the concept behind Emipeli, Emily admits that concept is own personality.

“I guess the brand is me, it’s a collection of all of the things I love to create. Dopamine, colour, confidence, sustainability plus a little bit of what I feel like doing that day,” says Emily. 

“I’ve intentionally created a skill set that allows me to work head to toe in the realms of wearable art from SFX and prosthetic makeup, jewellery, clothing and costume and shoe painting, my canvas art and installation also fall into the brand, it’s a very mixed bag. 

“No day is the same, my work ranges from film to dressing drag queens and musicians, costume for theatre, gallery installation, making something just because I was inspired, or working on a collection like I am right now. When I have down time between projects I like to go into my studio with an empty mind and be inspired in the moment. My brand name is very fitting because I really do feel like I get to play all day.”


Emily, obviously, describes Emipeli as “maximalist, colourful and sustainable”. She strives to source as many of her materials from secondhand options – everything from fabrics to notions, buttons and beads.

“I also keep every scrap. Large scraps are sorted into boxes by fabric type and kept for future projects, small scraps, even down to threads are collected and then used as colourful fillings for PVC purses,” explains Emily. 

“I like to explore recycle shops and often collect things I see potential in. Some may say hoarder, I’d say super sustainable; if I can think of a use for it and I know it won’t break down in landfill, I’m keeping it.”

Emily says her long-term goals for Emipeli is to build the brand to size where she can employ a team. 

“I’ve got hundreds of ideas but not enough hands to execute them.”

To shop Emipeli Designs, go to emipelidesign.com. You can also experience the brand’s colourful world at @emipelidesign.

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