We’re an educator, employer, producer and retailer all rolled into one happy community space. Using fashion as a vehicle for positive change and pathways for people from new migrant and refugee backgrounds – particularly youth – we exist as a not-for-profit social enterprise that champions the values of diversity, community, and education, right here in the heart of Collingwood.
Who we are
Here’s a quick Q + A on who we are, what we do, and why we do it.
In 2009, a group of community members, local designers, and fashion industry professionals came together with the great idea of using up-cycled fashion as a vehicle for social change. Working hand-in-hand with their fellow neighbours, the group opened our first shopfront on Smith Street that year, laying the groundwork for The Social Studio as it is today.
We empower young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to design their own futures by providing fashion and industry-based solutions to the main barriers they face upon arriving to our community: unemployment, isolation and difficulties accessing education and training. We do this by creating jobs, providing education opportunities, encouraging community engagement and fostering social inclusion.
Many of our talented students and staff have been referred to us by case workers, social workers and large settlement services like the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the Department of Human Services Refugee Minor Program, as well as our broader community network. We welcome all queries, please contact us.
We’re here to provide a place of belonging and to change public perceptions of the migrant and refugee experience. As a non-profit org, we’re guided by a Board of Management comprised of design and business professionals, media and communications experts, community development workers, and young migrant and refugee leaders in Melbourne. Every cent generated through the Studio is invested right back into it, creating lasting social and economic benefits for our students, staff and their communities.
Absolutely. Our production team capabilities include creating high-quality, ethically made garments and accessories for local designers and corporate clients. Please get in touch with us to find out more.
We encourage learning across the board. That includes informal ESL and numeracy coaching, mentoring, paid traineeships, industry work experience, apprenticeships, and formal training at The Social Studio design school – a partnership with RMIT School of Fashion.
Of course! We offer referral pathways into employment in the fashion and retail industries, including clothing manufacturing, as well as opportunities within our own production studio and The Social Studio retail shop. Outside of the fashion industry, we’ve supported students as they’ve gone on on to careers in accounting, engineering and entrepreneurship. Some have even founded socially-conscious enterprises similar to our own!
The wonderful educational and social support programs we offer free-of-charge to our students do require a helping hand. While our enterprises – the retail shop, clothing label and production house – generate funds to support our education and training programs, we need assistance in bridging the gap. Luckily, all donations are 100% tax-deductible (and look great on every human).
Contact us to discuss donations and support.
There are tons of ways to make an impact today. Shop with us; donate or fundraise; offer employment opportunities, internships or work experience to our highly skilled trainees in retail, fashion design and manufacturing; volunteer with us; or, just spread the word!
Yes! But we do prefer larger quantities of fabric on the roll to smaller offcuts (which we’re unable to use). Please contact us to discuss your donation.
Getting involved is simple. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll contact you when an opportunity comes up. We’re particularly interested in volunteers with experience in fashion or clothing production, as well as professional and creative services such as marketing, styling and photography, but all are welcome. Thank you very much for your support!
We’ve recently expanded to our newest training centre in Heidelberg West. Though The Social Studio as you see it today has come about thanks to many years of close work with our local community, we believe our shared interest is the key to our success. While we don’t intend to franchise our model elsewhere, we freely share our IP with other organisations, such as The Social Outfit in Sydney.
We do! We think that work experience is an amazing way for budding minds to get a real sense of what it’s like to work in a fashion and retail environment. Consistent with our overall model, we offer positions to young people who face barriers to mainstream employment and training.
The Cert III runs for two years, in line with the RMIT University semester timetable. The course is part-time (two days a week) with classes held Monday to Thursday, 12 hours per week. Interested? Get in touch.
Intake for this course happens twice a year, but you can apply any time. You can either apply to start at the beginning of the academic year or mid-year, just like the RMIT University timetable. Once the RMIT University intakes open, our Student Pathways Coordinator will be in touch with applicants to discuss enrolment. Fill in our Expression of Interest form here to be kept up-to-date.
Both! Students are enrolled by The Social Studio and RMIT University. Essentially, our teachers deliver the RMIT University Certificate III curriculum to students at The Social Studio. You’ll be undertaking the Certificate III course (plus receiving additional support like ESL classes) for free. We have a unique partnership with RMIT University as a not-for-profit organisation that makes this possible.
The course runs on-site at our Collingwood headquarters.
Nope. Anyone with a refugee and new migrant background can join and no previous experience is required.
If you meet our eligibility requirements: there are no fees at all!
In order to be eligible for this program, you need to be a young person from a refugee or new migrant background with the right to study in Australia and a current healthcare card. All of the theory and assessments for the course are delivered in English, so we also ask that students have a level of English that will allow them to complete a Certificate III. That means a literacy and numeracy test is part of the enrolment process too. Don’t worry, if your English isn’t at the level required yet, we’ll offer support to strengthen your English literacy, either before or during the course.
If clothing and textile production is your passion, we encourage you to apply anyway. Although we do ask for students to be at a level of English literacy that will allow them to participate (and thrive) in the program, we can provide support if you’re not quite at that level yet. Please contact our Student Pathways Coordinator for an appointment to discuss your situation.
Lots. Here’s a quick list of subjects you’ll cover:
- Sewing techniques
- Fabric and textile performance
- Pattern making
- Sew woven and knit garments
- Cut and layout fabric
- Develop basic sketching techniques for fashion design
- Apply quality standards
- Professional finishing and alterations
- Sustainable work practice
- Estimate and costing
You’ll have the chance to participate in all kinds of engaging events and activities that will help you grow and build upon your experience. For example:
- Excursions to exhibitions, industry tours, fashion shows and events
- Participating in student runway shows
- Talks from industry speakers and collaborative workshops
- Student internships and work experience
- On-site RMIT University classes
- Textile design and fabric manipulation activities
- Beginners CAD workshops
- Folio preparation workshops
- English language tutoring and support
- Family days
It sure does. Once you’re qualified and awarded your Certificate III, our Student Pathways Coordinator can assist you with exploring and applying for any further studies you have interest in. There’s no limit to where you can go, even if you find that fashion isn’t your calling. Our students have gone on to study all kinds of things from Certificate IVs in design to university degrees in accounting.
Find out everything you need to know about applying and access the form here.
Come and try our Social Sewing classes. They’re aimed at beginners and run on Fridays in Collingwood, from 10am-4pm. You’ll learn the basics and it’s a great no-pressure way to find out whether the Certificate III is something you’d like to commit to.
Our Social Sewing sessions are open to community members from refugee and new migrant backgrounds, and are facilitated by one of our friendly teachers. You’ll be shown how to use an industrial sewing machine and can receive help to create and design you own personal projects. All materials and machinery use are offered FREE of charge, although there can be a wait to use certain machines depending on how many people are in the studio at any given time.
Anyone who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident can join our Social Sewing classes. From 2020, people who are seeking asylum can also be referred to us by Jobs Victoria Employment Network providers. We prioritise youth and people from refugee and new migrant backgrounds. If you’re interested, please express your interest here.
Please express your interest here. Our team will be in touch.
If you are interested or you work with a client who might like to join the RMIT University accredited course or our Social Sewing classes, please fill in the form below. If you’d like to discuss eligibility or enrolment first, please contact us to arrange a tour or meet our teachers and Youth Coordinator. Alternatively, feel free to pop into the Studio during opening hours to fill out a form and we’ll be in touch.
Call: (03) 9417 2143
The Social Studio stocks our own sustainable label alongside other ethical and value-aligned brands.
Our label is 100% created in-house by our design and production teams. Everything is handcrafted to a high quality and has a low environmental footprint, using up-cycled materials donated by industry that would otherwise be headed for landfill.
We also stock a range of socially responsible or consciously sustainable brands; a mix of local and international brands that meet our high standards for quality.
While our current students don’t produce The Social Studio label (they’re too busy learning and working on their own stuff), our graduates are offered work opportunities into our manufacturing team and all of the proceeds generated from our shop go right back into supporting their future in fashion through education and employment initiatives.
We have a ‘fashion for good’ model here. We like our fashion slow and our trade fair. And we know you’re only as good as the company you keep, so you’ll find our very own label hanging alongside other designers who make clothes to make a difference. Think like-minded local labels and independent designers that align with our values.
Our retail and online store is designed to empower and uplift our community through employment and education. We’re proud to say that 80% of our staff come from refugee and new migrant backgrounds. And that all revenue generated by our retail sales goes directly back into funding opportunities for migrant and refugee youth, allowing all of our education and employment programs to be offered to students for free.
Every cent you spend with us is invested right back into our social initiatives. So by shopping at The Social Studio, you’re directly helping us provide education and employment opportunities to our students. We strive to employ young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds at all levels of our enterprise. From permanent and casual roles to paid internships in our store and production studio. Without you, our shop and these opportunities don’t exist.
Don’t forget to feel extra warm and fuzzy in your new get up, because whether you buy from our label, or another socially conscious brand that we stock, you’re helping pave the way to a fairer, brighter future for migrant and refugee youth in Melbourne.
Our online store is open 24/7. Make a purchase that makes a difference, any time, right here.
If you prefer a bricks & mortar experience, visit our beautiful store in the leafy courtyard of the Collingwood Yards. We’re open Wednesday 12-5pm and Thursday-Saturday, 12-6pm.
Our production studio
It’s 50 units per style, regardless of sizes. Our Studio has the capacity to work with small to medium size production runs, usually from around 20 to 250 units. But that’s just an average: we are always open to discussing larger orders depending on your needs.
We assist through the manufacturing process with grading, sampling and production. We don’t offer pattern-drafting services ourselves, but we do know some wonderful pattern-makers. We’re happy to assist you in finding the right one and help with in-house pattern alterations along the way.
All fabric, trims and threads must be supplied by the client. If you need help sourcing fabrics, we can recommend some top-notch suppliers that we trust.
Unfortunately, we don’t currently offer these services… Let us know that you’re looking and we’ll recommend some suppliers we love.
At this time, we don’t offer swimwear, underwear, jeans, or most knit garments. But we can work across a variety of woven options. If you’re unsure, please get in touch.
Our terms are simple: 50% deposit before commencing an order and 50% prior to collection.
We’re proud to have worked with some incredible established and emerging designers across apparel and homewares. A few of our favourites: Kuwaii, Búl, Well Made Clothes, Ulo and Studio Tinta.
Lead times vary depending on the size and complexity of your order. Please get in touch with the Studio and we can provide you with an estimate.