Installation view of The Social Studio (front) and  Micky in the Van (behind) on display in <em>Fashion Now</em> as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023. Image: Sean Fennessy

The Social Studio

The Social Studio
(est. 2009, Melbourne)

Part educator, part retailer and part production house, The Social Studio originated in 2009 when a group of community advocates, local designers and fashion industry professionals joined forces to embrace upcycled fashion as a vehicle for social change – in particular, to uplift youth from migrant and refugee backgrounds. The Social Studio’s unique not-for-profit model empowers people by creating education and employment pathways for migrant and refugee communities in Victoria. Since launching its storefront on Smith Street, Collingwood, The Social Studio has grown into an ethical, sustainable business providing over 780 young people with meaningful, practical experience through TAFE-accredited training and work opportunities through the business’s education programs, production studio and in-house label.

Collaboration is a major part of The Social Studio’s business model, with recent projects involving Melbourne-based South Sudanese musician Gordon Koang; a capsule collection with Atong Atem and Romance Was Born; a collaboration between Ken Done x Kuwaii; and the MPavilion 2019 uniforms with illustrator Beci Orpin. In 2021, The Social Studio moved from its original home on Smith Street, Collingwood, to the newly opened multi-level arts hub Collingwood Yards. The organisation exclusively stocks clothing and homewares by Black, Indigenous and culturally diverse creatives, as well as The Social Studio’s own upcycled label, with all profits going towards education programs for refugee and migrant creatives.

The Social Studio is accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia and Social Traders, and is a member of the Australian Fashion Council. Since opening in 2009, the business has saved more than twenty tonnes of fabric and textile waste from landfill.