Local designer is oh sew talented

“As a young designer, I think that because of the pandemic there is an entire generation of designers that will just lose their opportunity to be shown, for their work to be seen and their voices to be heard in the industry. It is so scary. I’m definitely doing everything I can to still get my name out there and do everything that I love.”

Designer Caterina Monea in her home studio. Credit: Bonnie Kidd

Caterina Monea, 21, is an ethical clothing manufacturer and pattern maker whose plans to step into a professional industry have been put on hold, like many others, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In the meantime, I’ve been starting up my own business, Caterina Co”, she said.

Based in Geelong, Caterina says local makers and creators are the future of the clothing industry and she is working towards an ethical future in fashion.

“There’s a whole new generation of makers and consumers who want to know how sustainable a piece of clothing really is, the process it went through and how that will affect our future,” Caterina said.

Caterina graduated from an Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising course in 2019, from The Gordon in Geelong. Now she’s turned the pandemic into a way to make her name in the industry by making and selling more than 500 masks in the past few months. The Victorian Government made face coverings mandatory across the state on July 30.

 “It just sort of came about. I was really bored at the start of isolation, so I thought ‘I’m just going to make some masks!’. I’ve been really under the pump, I made 100 in one day last week”, she said.

Caterina is one of many who have adapted their focus in response to the pandemic that is continuing to sweep the globe.

The Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA), an accreditation body working with local manufacturers in Australia, found that one quarter of its accredited businesses have changed their manufacturing to include face mask production, to meet local demand.

Media student Bella Reis has known Caterina since they were 15 after they met working together at KFC.

“I think Cat is so smart and innovative, she’s really good at progressing with the times. With her masks, I think that it’s a great example of her demonstrating all different kinds of styles and catering to people’s different tastes”, Bella said.

Bella works with Caterina to create social media content, focusing on their shared passions for a sustainable future in the fashion industry. “We learn a lot from each other and basically just support one another,” Bella said.

“The fact that she’s really sustainable and tries to reuse fabrics really shows that she’s looking at our future. Her ability to be sustainable and ethical with her decision making and implement that into her designs is so important in our current climate. She knows what’s up.”

Caterina’s work is being featured in the National Wool Museum’s Designer Showcase titled ‘We the Makers’, after she was nominated for creating a dress using 100 per cent recycled materials. Caterina said her interpretation of the theme, Design For The Future, was to produce a sustainable and ethical option.

“I’m doing all I can to care about sustainability as a designer,” Caterina said. “I’m using a lot of dead stock and recycled materials, and I’ve made the switch to 100 per cent biodegradable packaging”.

Caterina is also a singing teacher and works as a textile assistant at Geelong’s Sacred Heart College but says sewing, and now her business, is her hobby.

“It’s outstanding that she’s a one-woman show. Everything that she produces and is on her Instagram is all her, all her own ideas, all her own creations. That’s really unique,” said Bella.

You can visit Caterina Co here.



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