Rachel and Alex Sims share more than just DNA and a love of tea; they are both well on their way to a career in design. Rachel, 23, majored in textiles and graphics at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW and now interns at Karolina York. Alex, 20 is studying design at the Whitehouse design school and won the Cue Fashion Award in 2011.
In addition to acting as a sounding board for one another, Rachel is designing digital prints for Alex’s final year collection. What sisterly affection! We asked them about university, inspiration, and working with your sibling. Here’s what they had to say…
Did you always want to go into fashion design during high school?
R: At school I always knew I wanted to be in a career that was creative, although I was unsure what particular field would best suit. Studying design at COFA allowed me to explore all creative aspects – which eventually took me down the path of textile design.
A: When I was 11, I sewed my first skirt. From then on I was interested in garments and creating something special for myself. I studied textiles and design at school, which I loved, and I guess I always wanted to do something creative.
Is it easy to become a good designer when surrounded by creative people at university?
R: Studying a degree whereby you could major in all types of design was inspiring as I was constantly surrounded by people who were innovative thinkers in the field of design.
A: When I first started at Whitehouse I had this perception that it would be incredibly competitive. Don’t get me wrong, it is; yet my class is a support group, we all bounce off one another’s creative ideas and views, which really helps you to grow as an individual.
What was the best thing about studying at each of your respective universities?
R: Being taught the ability to comprehend and undertake both specific and open design briefs as well as being surrounded by like-minded people. Also, the bookshop café on Oxford Street served the most amazing coffees and hot chocolates!
A: At Whitehouse, I study and work with people who have an amazingly diverse talent base producing fantastic designs and style themes.
How would you describe each of your aesthetics?
R: I love the digital manipulation of illustration and photography. In print design, I feel as though it is vital to push boundaries and develop designs that are fresh and innovative.
A: I would say that my aesthetic is streamlined. I like to play with silhouettes and create a unique cut for each garment. I aim to make each individual piece stand alone.
What influences your designs?
R: Anything I see or hear, particularly within nature! I love quotes and tend to take hundreds of images on my phone and SLR camera for inspiration.
A: My recent trip to India exposed a world of creativity and beauty; from nature to the people I met. The colour and vibrancy was amazing!
Rachel, if you could make a print design for any fashion house in the world, who would it be?
I absolutely adore Basso & Brooke – I love the way they integrate different mediums of artwork into their designs.
Alex, you finish university soon, what’s your first career move?
I would love to gain more experience working in the fashion industry, in particular garment design, and eventually collaborate with my sister.
Do you have any collaborative projects in the works?
Rachel is designing digital prints for Alex’s final year collection. We love collaborating together and bounce ideas off each other. Within the next couple of years we hope to be in partnership on a more marketable larger scale.
Did you play dress ups at home a lot?
R: I vividly remember my fourth birthday party, dressed as a fairy. These days – if I’m about to head out the door – Alex is the first one to tell me if something doesn’t look right!
A: I was obsessed with mum’s ballet costumes from the 1960s, which my Nan made. In particular, the strawberry costume with a green sprout hat!
Tea or Coffee?
R: Coffee always gets me going but I do love a daily chrysanthemum tea
A: Winter – English breakfast tea; Summer – iced coffee
Whats your ‘can’t leave home without’ item?
R: White organic mulberries
A: Coral lipstick