The competition, having become a mainstay of the Agfest expo in recent years, has participants use ordinary farm yard material to create wearable pieces of fashion.
 

Part of Agfest, an annual business expo organised by Rural Youth Tasmania, this year’s Ag Artwear competition featured some of the quirkiest and most innovative outfit ideas ever seen at the event, many of which were born in the minds of Don College’s own students.

 Of the six awards up for grabs across the two divisions, the Under-16s and the Over 16s, Don College racked up four of them.

They might have the Year 11 and 12 college’s fashion design teacher, Shanli Perkins to thank though, for urging her students, year on year, to participate in such community events and share their work.

“I try and use as many real community events as I can”, Perkins says. “And the students get a choice. They don’t have to enter them, they can pass the course without even having to do that.

But we encourage them to showcase their work to the community and to support community events. The winning outfit this year came from a Don College student who, in fact, had placed third the year before, having made a superb costume using de-hydrated apples.

 “Yes, and I thought that was spectacular!” Perkins says.

“She clearly was shocked that they awarded that one third. But she’s learnt from that and she’s won this year, so she sort of better understood the judges’ taste and realised that they liked something a lot more wearable and that you could actually walk down the street and wear.

“She used a potato sack and made a flared little skirt out of it. She then took a men’s flannelette shirt and tied it into a halter-neck. And the scraps she turned into flowers and buttoned them onto the skirt”, Perkins says.

Agfest’s Ag Artwear competition isn’t the only offbeat event that Perkins encourages her students to participate in. Others include the Chocolate Winterfest in Latrobe, and the larger Teenage Fashion Awards that offers participants a chance to compete at a national level.

She believes that such events go a long way towards building far more than confidence alone. “Definitely confidence but also their time management becomes real.

Like if you set an assignment and there’s a deadline, a lot of students don’t make that deadline. But when it’s a real event and you’ve got to showcase at a definite time, it makes them so much better at organising their time, and motivates them really really well”, she says.