by Platform One

Meet Mary Cini, a now Melbourne-based stylist who has thrived within the design industry since the early 90s – a time in the fashion world when production was much slower, and consumption was much lesser.

Mary started her career in design in 1993 at Hickory Fashion, she then moved on to work for one of Australia’s leading lingerie labels Fine Lines, and was head designer there for over a decade. Mary - like many others who were privileged enough to experience working during this era of the fashion industry - have really seen the sustainable decline of it all.  Here she talks about what it was like when everything was done locally, the drastic changes she has seen throughout her career and her passion about ensuring a more sustainable future.

Above: Catalogues from 1996 – 2008 


Here are her words…

So this is what I used to do, I was Head Designer of a Lingerie Brand.
Until the 90s we produced everything locally Springvale and Sydney.
We were late in moving our operation off shore, kept it here until it was do or die. We simply couldn’t compete unless we went through the huge process of shifting our manufacturing.
Everything was in-house. Fabric selection, design, highly technical pattern work, sewing procedures and the production of the catalogues you see in this post (not to mention loads of laughter, some of the best friends I’ve ever made and an awesome work ethic).

Above: Mary (far right) in the studio with colleagues – mid 1990s 

What this meant was that we kept our skill base here, employees were trained from the ground up exposing them to skills that are unimaginable and unattainable today.
The only thing we moved was production. It allowed us to control our product and protect our brand.
Our product was built to last and had purpose (I love that word.. “purpose”).
Many styles are still selling in today’s Australian market, which is remarkable.
So in 2020 who has those skills?? Ummm… not us! We gave them away.

I am a realist at the same time , not all of our process’ and production can return, it’s simply not viable or competitive.
A balance is what we need, it’s gone too far the other way now.
You can’t complain that there are no jobs or skills and keep consuming in the same way ... you’re simply telling the market to continue on as is. It doesn’t work.
What do we want our future to look like? Economically, culturally and environmentally.
Buy less, buy carefully, buy Australian made and Australian brands where possible. Look after your own…no one else is going to.
Our choices are our voices.


Above: Editorial shots from Marie Claire – June 1996


Mary Cini,

Thank you for reading,

Platform One x