Want to get hands-on with sustainable fashion? Kat Walsh’s Practice Studio is a retail space housing local and emerging designers such as Katalyst, Par Moi, Clingy and Gotham. It’s also a workshop where she mends and alters clothing in front of her customers.

The first iteration was a tiny shop in Fortitude Valley’s Winn Lane. As demand grew, Walsh sought a larger space and eventually settled into a light-filled shopfront on Montague Road in South Brisbane earlier this year. Initially, she imagined the in-store sewing machine would mostly be used for altering pieces bought from the shop, but customers started bringing in other items from their wardrobes and pieces they bought second-hand with the intent of upcycling them. “The demand for alterations and repairs has skyrocketed,” she says.

Walsh also rents out part of the shop as a gallery for designers and artists. “Everything in here is interacting with everything else,” she says. “[We’ve] got work that you can buy, get altered, and then maybe in the gallery you might have a deeper look into the concepts behind what someone is actually making.”

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The concept sparked when Walsh was studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion at QUT. It was there she discovered the broader impacts of the fast fashion industry and started thinking about ethics and sustainability. But it wasn’t until 2019, armed with a new set of skills after working in costuming for Opera Queensland, that she put the idea into practice.

Practice Studio customers are interested in prolonging the life of pieces they already own, which suits the current economic climate. “When someone has formed an attachment to a piece, that’s really exciting for me and I want to help them continue that relationship,” Walsh says. “It’s easy to think a T-shirt should cost five dollars when that’s what we’ve been shown over and over, but if we actually see the work involved in making one [we might change our minds].”

The studio owner has modelled this both in her workplace and in public. Walsh and a group of collaborators recently appeared at Brisbane Fashion Festival to undertake a challenge where they were tasked with reworking clothing from op shops, with original tags attached, into designer garments – a career highlight.

As Walsh is someone who keeps fabric offcuts in case they can be useful for a future project, it makes sense that her venture is a scrapbook of previously learned skills. “I think that’s how you find your niche. Every experience compounds and then at the end that’s your unique offering to the world,” she says. “It’s worth taking your time and not rushing it. If I’d started something like this back when I was 20, it wouldn’t be what it is.”

Practice Studio
44 Montague Road, South Brisbane

Wed to Fri, 10am-5pm
Sat 10am-4pm
Sun 10am-2pm