Mek’s Creative Director Mirella Arapian was part of the recent Up to Us exhibition for Melbourne Design Week, collaborating with Courtney Holm, founder of Melbourne circular fashion label A.BCH.

Up to Us invited 22 Australian leading female designers to come together across disciplines to respond to the statement, “What if it’s up to us?” The exhibition celebrates utopian thinking and explores the link between idealism and real societal change, inviting women to design the world they want to see.

Courtney and Mirella created a piece called PRIDE/PRICE, which aims to reframe the narrative between skilled makers in the slow fashion industry and “unskilled workers” in the fast fashion industry.


100% biological inner made from industrial waste materials
Synthetic webbing harness
Typographc prjection

Over 80% of garment workers are women, many deemed to be “unskilled workers”. On the contrary, machinists are skilled craftspeople and technicians who perform challenging and learned tasks. What’s more, sewing and garment making is cherished by people the world over and is pursued for careers, hobbies, and leisure alike.

The life preserver and motion graphics is a representation of the beauty, skill and joy that garment making can bring, juxtaposed with the dehumanisation of garment workers that keeps clothing cheap and people underpaid.

The preserver was created in two parts: a 100% biological inner, made entirely from industrial waste materials and skilfully constructed to demonstrate the meticulous labour and positive emotions that sewing a garment from start to finish can evoke. Additionally the biological nature of the piece speaks to the natural order of things and is totally compostable.

The outer is a synthetic harness made detachable to the inner garment in order to preserve the garment’s circularity. This part of the piece represents the constriction of creativity and reinforced narrative around so-called “unskilled workers”.

Simultaneously, the motion graphics give meaning to these conflicting worlds while highlighting the potential for transformative change through reframing our perceptions, insisting on living wages for every person in the supply chain and celebrating the love and joy of making.

Ying Ang
Courtney Holm
Mirella Arapian

The Design Files

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