Milly McHardie, AUT

Milly McHardie is a fashion design graduate from AUT. She grew up in Hamilton but is now in Auckland with her family. During her time at AUT, she learnt the importance of taking risks when using an experimental approach to your work. This means, accepting the fact that working in new ways means there is no guaranteed outcome, and the only way to progress is to keep pushing forward. Although the outcome may not always be what you expect, it allows for unexpected and new results to arise as well as valuable lessons to be learnt. 

McHardie’s graduate collection, Creature Comfort, is a unisex line that explores the rise of dressing for comfort as a result of COVID-19, through the sustainable lens of upcycling. The humble tracksuit, alongside sweatshirts, have become a staple for many, now more than ever. Creature Comfort celebrates these basics, giving them a refreshed and fun twist. 

The collection takes reference from chav culture in the UK, different traditional patterns used on garments, as well as different types of traditional embroidery stitch. The collection was made from wholly second-hand materials, apart from the threads that hold the fabrics together. 

“Personally, I buy the majority of my clothing from op-shops, so I am aware of the vast amount of materials available, from scrap fabrics to old woollen blankets. The red and blue shell suit was made from two tents, reworked to form the argyle pattern. The sweatshirt and shorts were made from old crochet blankets, hand-sewn onto bedsheets, using a traditional Japanese hand stitch technique called Sashiko. 

“The making of the fabrics was the core element of my process, with the hand-sewing, in particular, taking approximately 130 hours in total.”

In general, McHardie is inspired by the times she catches herself the least stressed. When she is living in the moment. 

“Inspiration can come from many things; a music festival, a random show on Vice, a movie, a conversation with friends and family, or even an Instagram post,” explained McHardie. 

“Although some of these moments inspire me directly, many have an influence that I don’t even realise, which I believe happens to us all…I think it is a great excuse to do what you love and indulge in an array of experiences, as it will inspire and influence you whether or not you notice it.” 

The concept of creativity has been important to McHardie since her childhood. Through art, music and her upbringing in a creative family, fashion design became a natural extension of her creative spirits.

“It was a way of creating that I felt I truly connected with, alongside my love for dressing up and purchasing second-hand clothing.”

McHardie studied a double degree in fashion design and business. She felt it was important to understand the practical side of the business as she would like to start her own brand in the future. McHardie decided to focus her studies by choosing a sustainable enterprise major. 

“The reason I chose the sustainable enterprise major was that I not only want to be sustainable in my designs but also the way in which I operate and make a living if I start my own brand.” 

McHardie currently operates a small second-hand clothing store on Instagram called Locker where she op-shops for her followers. After she graduates, she hopes to continue her second-hand store, as well as create gorgeous pieces with second-hand fabrics she has collated over the years.