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Designer to Watch: Bianca Spender

Bianca Spender

The saying, 'the apple doesn't fall far from the tree,' certainly applies to Bianca Spender. Her mother Carla Zampatti is an award-winning designer who this year celebrates 50 years in the fashion industry; and with 6 years running her own eponymous label, Bianca has proven that she has inherited not just her mother's eye for design, but also a head for business.

Named by W Magazine as a 'Designer to Watch,' Bianca Spender was also recently nominated for the 2015/16 International Woolmark Prize, one of fashion's most prestigious awards. We chat to her about her nomination and what's behind the Bianca Spender brand.

Congratulations on your nomination for the 2015/16 International Woolmark Prize! How often do you use wool in your designs?
I love wool! It is my favourite material to drape with, it has such integrity as a fibre. From the way it moulds to the form, to the way it holds a sculptural sleeve, it is inspiring to work with. I always find my best ideas in wool – there is something so versatile and pure about the material. I have always loved designing Autumn Winter and wool is pivotal to this – I miss it in spring!

You started off working with your mum on the Carla Zampatti label, what made you start your own label in 2009?
I grew up in a strong family and I always wanted to be independent. I had an aspiration to start a unique creative dialogue with clothes, irrespective of my family background, and this grew stronger and stronger over time. By 2009, the Bianca Spender for Carla Zampatti collections were successful, and we had a strong customer following that was demanding for more product. I decided it was the moment to branch out, to grow, to challenge myself and build the Bianca Spender brand. I found it is only by pushing yourself that you begin to realise who you are and what you are truly capable of.

Bianca Spender SS15 collection at MBFWA

Describe the woman you design for. 

I design for a strong woman who notices the integrity of the design process. She is a woman who cares about the details. She is curious about her environment and constantly exploring. She is looking for a unique proposition, a style that she calls her own.

Growing up I’ve always had a strong awareness of self. I knew what I liked and what I didn’t, but I was always very open to experimenting and trying new things. I was exposed to fashion from a very young age and for as long as I can remember the female form fascinated me. I understand the power of clothes and how it can impact a woman’s emotional wellbeing and give her the support she needs for her day.  

Talk us through your design process. What or who do you get consistently inspired by?
Inspiration for me is instinctual, coming from a feeling. It is an organic process where I find myself drawn to ideas from art and nature. The inspiration is also an evolutionary process; every collection leads me into an idea for the next. My response can be a break away from the last idea, or a development of a new thread of an idea from the previous collection.
Bianca Spender's design inspiration

Your designs have been described as structured yet fluid, and your suits are just an example of the really exquisite modern tailoring you produce - what do you keep in mind when designing tailored pieces for women? 

Liberated tailoring. From me when working with tailoring you are starting with a classic form and it is all about what edge you are going to give it, how you are going to twist and reinvent it.

A Bianca Spender suit is all about tailoring, cut, fit and quality. My time in Europe [after studying at East Sydney Fashion Design School really helped me to understand the importance of draping, tailoring and cut – three aspects which now underpin the Bianca Spender label. I love seeing what I can do with one piece of fabric, balancing structure and fluidity, reimagining the codes of how we dress. 

Sustainable and ethically sourced fashion is increasingly gaining awareness and attention nowadays not just from the industry but also consumers. As your brand is accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, how important is this to you as a brand and what practices do you have in your manufacturing and production processes that uphold this?
I am committed to a sustainable ethical business practice and being accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia is pivotal to this. Every single Bianca Spender garment is made in Sydney. I meet with my design and production team daily and we work together to look at how we can achieve the best result. I love how I learn from them and they learn from me, it is constant exchange of knowledge. My studio is above the cutting room and my time is split between the design studio and production. I am very passionate about maintaining local manufacturing; we develop skills, provide jobs and stay connected with everyone who works with our product. All of this is central to maintaining the best quality. Read more about sustainable fashion design in Australia.

Shop Bianca Spender:

  • 1

    Salt & Pepper Cotton Wool Dress

    The perfect interplay of feminine and architectural elements, this slim fitting shift dress features placement flare detailing and slim mesh inserts.

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  • 2

    Black Lava Wool Esquire Jacket

    A sharp tuxedo jacket made from pure wool and features a traditional double breasted front complete with four metallic buttons.

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  • 3

    Cherry Twill Svelte Pant

    The Twill Svelte Pant is a statement style that embodies high end glamour, featuring a luxe high shine finish, fully lined interior and a flattering loose fit.

    Shop Now