Katie Tillson

VIHN | Brisbane Threads

VIHN – Made By Humans

posted by Katie Tillson June 22, 2015 0 comments

Imagine this: we’re friends. You’ve come to my house so that I can proudly detail how my newfound love of sewing means that I’m making clothes now.  Would you offer me a paltry few dollars for something you now know I’ve poured over for hours, broken two needles on and practically severed a finger whilst sewing?

I’d like to think your answer goes something like this: “No Katie, you goose, I’d pay you what I thought it was worth considering the time and effort you invested in making it*.” (*If that wasn’t your answer then I hope that by the end of this article, you take pause for thought and reassess.)

Edda, Judith, Ryan, and Monique – known collectively as the team behind sustainable fashion label VIHN – recognise that conversations like the one I’ve imagined above rarely precursor clothing purchases. Instead, we’ve become obsessed with the notion of bargain hunting; driven by an insatiable and unobtainable need to keep up with the ever changing world of fashion. Obliviously pursuing this goal, we have little or no concept as to the real life impact our decisions are having on those who make the very shirts on our backs.

VIHN | Brisbane Threads

VIHN’s mission is simple on paper and echoes those such as Stella McCartney and Suno who have long focused on the environmental impacts of production: VIHN want to transform the lives of those who work in the garment industry. But as The True Cost details – with 1 in 6 humans on the Earth today involved in the fashion industry and an average of eight million items of clothing sold every year – transforming the garment industry is no mean feat.

As I sat among a crowd of other twenty to thirty something’s watching the documentary at VIHN’s recent screening night, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable about pretty much every item of clothing I’ve ever bought. The film pairs shots of frenzied American shoppers at the Black Friday sales with those of the bodies of the 1,100 workers crushed when a factory collapsed at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh two years ago. Mr Morgan captures the story of a single mother who tried to organise a labour union in her factory and was locked in a room and beaten by her employers. We meet mentally handicapped kids in India, who are reportedly suffering from the impact of pesticides used to grow the cotton for our clothes. And, we’re presented with images of entire villages suffering from hypopigmentation due to the chemicals that are reportedly pumped into their only source of drinking water by a factory upstream that manufactures cheap leather. It was difficult, uncomfortable, and, at time, gut-wrenching viewing. reports, that Mr Morgan swears the movie isn’t designed to “bum you out” but is instead here to “pose [a] simple idea: There are human beings who make what we wear.” And it is this idea that VIHN are desperate to communicate to the Australian world of fashion.

Derived from the Icelandic word meaning “friend”, VIHN is a label that goes beyond your wardrobe with each and every purchase funding a project at Lotus Silk, an ethical workspace in Cambodia:

  • Buy a VIHN dress; you provide child-care to the workers.
  • Buy a VIHN jacket; you add solar panels to the workspace.
  • Buy a VIHN shirt and you fund education programs for the workers.

VIHN’s mission is to create opportunities for mainstream garment workers to move into ethical workplaces – and transform their lives. Their premise is about seeing the people that make our clothes as just that: people.

Watching The True Cost I realised how I, like pretty much everyone I know, take for granted the workforce making my clothes as an extension of the machines they’re made on. VIHN don’t do that; their clothes –which are statement pieces designed to empower both the maker and the wearer – are designed by humans, sewn by humans and should be worn by humans.

I can’t encourage you enough to donate to VIHN’s StartSomeGood campaign; and, if you’re still not convinced, watch The True Cost on Netflix when it’s available later this month. If that doesn’t move you, I’d recommend you see a doctor or a mechanic because I’d hazard a guess that you’re not human at all.

VIHN | Brisbane Threads

ABSINTHE review | Brisbane Threads


posted by Katie Tillson June 8, 2015 0 comments

Possibly the most famous lover of Absinthe, Oscar Wilde, notoriously said, “After the first glass of absinthe you see things as you wish they were” and doesn’t that ring true for Brisbane’s latest acrobatic, all-singing, all-dancing show pony?!

Absinthe, the latest show from the creators of Empire, is a dazzling spectacle that takes place in the Speigeltent; a seductive, smoky, French-underground-club (that’s actually a big wooden tent in the middle of Brisbane). Having been completely enveloped the minute I walked through the doors, and after ogling one or two Brisbane celebrities in the audience (hello, MKR’s Annie & Lloyd and the Nova Breakfast Boys), I could barely contain my excitement when presented with my first Absinthe cocktail to “get me in the mood” (as if I needed any help)!

The floor seating, where we were, was certainly intimate so prepare to get to know a couple of strangers if you’re in the cheap seats. A comfier alternative definitely looked to be the booths that circle the edge of the tent or the stage side tables that look like something directly off of a Parisian sidewalk.

Part funny, part sexy and part acrobatic, the show itself was a glittering, flexing, foul-mouthed affair that had me dropping my jaw every few seconds; at times, from the “how do they do that” perspective and, at others, from the “I can’t believe she said that” one. A word of warning, this is not a show to take your nanna to – the language is colourful, the jokes offensive, and the flashes of genitalia pretty regular. (Then again, if that’s how your nanna gets her kicks then she certainly won’t be disappointed!)

Personally, my favourite act was the Frat Pack – a trio of tightrope walkers who provided the crowd with plenty of hold-your-breath moments and whose performance was met with raucous applause from the audience. But to say there is something for everyone (as long as they’re not easily offended) is definitely true. There’s a Ukrainian acrobatic quartet swilling shots on stage and performing feats of strength that will impress even the most hardened bodybuilder. Los Dos Tacos are a toned and terrific pair of “Mexican” gymnasts that certainly impressed the ladies in the audience. And my husband (and every other straight guy in the audience) certainly seemed pretty taken with chanteuse Karla Tonkich, whose bare-arsed version of Morphine’s Early to Bed opened the show – complete with pasties and nipple tassels of course.

The Gazillionaire, our bluer-than-a-sailor-on-leave emcee, closed the show with every act receiving a standing ovation from the entire audience. With a limited run, I can’t recommend enough that you dash out today and get your first taste of Absinthe too!

ABSINTHE review | Brisbane Threads

Click here and here for  more information about ABSINTHE by Spiegelworld and follow this link to purchase tickets (prices range from $54-$154). Show duration is 90 minutes with no interval; recommended for ages 15 & above as the performance features some nudity and strong language.