Sabio Designs: Story telling through fashion

Sabio Designs gathers Tasmanian culture, history and environment for inspiration, creating local designs with stories adorning its every sleeve.

Tasmania’s community and environment is the “connecting thread” for Hobart woman Sabrina Evans’ fashion label Sabio Designs. From its native flora and fauna, to its architecture, surrounding landscapes and the female forms she fits, the island state provides the main fabric for her designs.

Sabrina began her work in design through arts and crafts, learning a raft of techniques including embroidery, printing and storytelling. These early foundations equipped her with the techniques to imbue her garments with creative thought and meaning, inspired, of course, by Tasmania’s cultural wonderland. Her’s is a unique fusion of fashion and humanity in an industry often described as fickle and fleeting.

Ask Sabrina to sum up her overall design aesthetic and she speaks of conflict and dichotomy, her explanation as complex as the themes she weaves into her work.

“I seem to always have an element of conflict within my own design aesthetic,” she says.

“On one hand it can be conservative, restrained and simplistic and on the other it needs to fulfill a greater need of connecting our persons with our environment, history and to communicate our individual personalities to each other within that space.”

One mainstay of Sabrina’s work is the Tasmania landscape and culture she has grown up in, an influence that accents all of her collections.

“I express this need for detail through colour and texture, shape and style, referencing multiple elements from Hobart and Tasmania in general,” she explains.

“This usually starts from flora and fauna, buildings, and people. I follow threads and traces to pin down a concept through these points of references.”

Over the years Sabio Designs has evolved, with the last 12 months offering significant change for the label. Typically creating two distinct styles consisting of smart casuals and fashion art collections for women, the brand is now catering to local demand for ‘clothes with individuality’, as a response to the phenomenon of mass-produced goods from overseas manufacturers.

“We are heading into a climate where our decisions on what we purchase need to have a meaning or satisfy a certain desire, fulfill an aesthetic need and expression within our local environment,” Sabrina says.

Part of this philosophy extends to Sabio Designs’ use of textiles, and its sourcing of locally produced fabrics first, then from interstate, to reduce the label’s carbon footprint and support other local businesses.

Establishing Sabio Desings as a Tasmanian company was the right move for Sabrina, who believes the state’s design industry nurtures the efforts of local business holders in a way that other governments and communities cannot.

“I think we have such an advantage, being a designer in Tasmania. Its population is small enough to be noticed; we have fantastic social and government support in the arts community and we are recognised internationally for this,” she says.

Having won a number of prestigious accolades, including the Avant Garde award in 2009 at Fashion Exposed Melbourne, L’Oreal’s Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program with ‘Tas Fashion Stills’ and Tasmania’s own ‘Art on Legs’ acquisition last year, the future of Sabio Designs looks bright. Sabrina also hinted at a number of projects in the pipeline to be revealed over the coming months.

“I aim to continue market stalls here and in Victoria, and stocking local boutiques. It’s all about enjoying life and ‘making’ the best I can true to my own ideas and aesthetics,” she says.

And in an industry where trends come and go quicker than models parading down a runway, Sabrina offers a style philosophy that is timeless.

“The biggest trend is reconnecting ourselves with humanity, and ‘wearing it on our sleeves’. Whether it be in our choice of a print, colour or a fabric, fashion allows us to express and tell our own, individual story.”

Sabio Designs is stocked at [ spacebar gallery ] in Salamanca, and Salamanca markets. For information on the label and Sabrina’s work, go to 

Words: Grace Robinson

Images: Helena Blundell

© 2011 Tasmanian Lifestyle Magazine
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