Where tradition and experimentalism meet: docGIRL  

By Anjelica Angwin on November 24, 2021

Introducing docGIRL, the new and evolving collaboration between the brother-sister duo, Hansika and DOCG. Shot by photographer Nathalie Scarlette and featuring model Akelo, the debut collection 'GIRLS ARE LOVELIER' showcases the balance of tradition and experimentalism. Set in the cultural hub of Footscray, the shoot pays homage to the migrant come-up and is situated in the hair salon where beauty practises and storytelling meet.

Hi DOCG and Hansika! What is your brother/sister relationship like, both personally and creatively?

D: Hansika has honestly been my best friend since we were kids. We are only a year apart, so it makes sense that we share everything.

H: Growing up, we spent most of our time together. Working as collaborators, we've found a balance and understanding of each other as both siblings and business partners.

How was docGIRL born?

D: We created docGIRL through many conversations and a longing to establish a family atelier. Hansika and I nurture each other's ideas and aspirations together through docGIRL.

H: We started docGIRL as a way to cherish women. But it's more than a brand; it's a valuable partnership and opportunity to work with our community and showcase our friends.

How does family, community, and the migrant experience inform the ethos or inspiration behind docGIRL?

D: I have a responsibility as a brother to protect and look out for my sister – this is deeply rooted in many ethnic/migrant cultures. I want to ensure my sister is safe in the industry and help facilitate her freedom and creativity in every space she occupies. This extends to our friends and family as well. As a man, the idea 'GIRLS ARE LOVELIER' is an anthem for the next generation of men to understand our responsibility to support our sisters around us.

In what ways does docGIRL embody a balance of tradition and experimentalism or rebellion?

H: As my brother said, docGIRL represents "an anthem to women" to embrace experimentation and challenge tradition. We've converged our two mediums of design and patternmaking through our garments to create our own take on the classic silhouette skirt. We were also inspired by Tokyo's subculture streetwear scene. The DOCG side offers a unique take on graphic design and streetwear by curating an all-over print lining the fabric and embroidery.

I created a new form for this classic pleated skirt by reconstructing the garment from the hem up. Drawing inspiration from the contrasting styles of youth and elegance, this skirt balances tradition with revolution.

What is it about Melbourne's West and Footscray in particular that resonates with you?

D: As a Sri Lankan brother-sister duo, our community is embedded with a shared understanding of the migrant experience and a respect for working toward a better life for our family.

The West is rich with culture, vibrance and, for me, is the exemplification of multiculturalism in Australia. We are first-generation Australians, and, like many of the kids we grew up with, there's a shared sense of respect. There's an understanding that many of our migrant parents held a similar belief when coming to Australia for a "better life". We've been immersed in this multiculturalism, so the West has become a vital part of our identity; it keeps us grounded and informs our perspective and artistry. The culture of the West is a core inspiration.

The editorial takes place at a hair salon; Can you unpack the relationship between beauty practices and culture?

H: To answer this question, we've asked Akelo, who modelled our debut collection, to speak on this. Akelo is a Sudanese born writer and fashion model. Akelo is interested in being a storyteller, whether in front of the lens or through her writing.

A: Hair and beauty constitute Black women's identity. The beauty industry seen through the hair salon facilitates the independence of self-employed women in negotiating space for non-western ideals. Hair salons engage with rich expressions of culture, practising styles of self-expression and cultural significance, remaining in a meaningful context.

What is the story behind the debut collection's name: 'GIRLS ARE LOVELIER'?

D: I worked as a researcher for Victoria University, collecting data on violence against women and its rise amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. For me, 'GIRLS ARE LOVELIER' acknowledges the issue of violence against women today. This isn't just a women's issue; it's a human issue.

The idea 'GIRLS ARE LOVELIER' is a tribute to the next generation of men in supporting and championing the women around us. We hope to create a bridge between men and women and help foster compassion and understanding of women's experiences.

What was the creative process like working with the photographer, Nathalie Scarlette and model, Akelo? How did the editorial come to fruition?

D: docGIRL is about involving the creatives we love and respect. Nathalie and I have been friends for years, and we spent time in Tokyo together back in 2017. I've respected her work for a long time, and we've been meaning to collaborate since that Japan trip.

Akelo is an intelligent writer, poet and model. She played a huge part in producing this work, helping get in contact with the hair salon, and bringing to life 'GIRLS ARE LOVELIER'.

Without James Thompson, our gaffer, and Georgia Haynes filming and assisting literally everything, this project couldn't have come together. I always want to build and collaborate with friends, family, and people we respect because it translates into the work we put out.

H: Before we start collaborating, we want to build a relationship with the person. We want to see who they are as people and develop a better understanding of one another. That way, we can be our authentic selves.

What challenges did you face when establishing docGIRL? And how did you overcome them?

H: Everything took time. Every little detail mattered, and we wanted it to be perfect. Creating 50 skirts from scratch, pattern making, sourcing the fabric during a pandemic, cutting the material, and sewing the skirts all had their challenges. I'm glad we spent our COVID experience creating this collection, it took us two years to produce, but the experience has definitely been worth it.

Lastly, any parting advice for aspiring fashion designers?

D + H: "Young artists - Trust in yourself no matter what people say. Don't trust compliments. Only trust in your instinct about the work." - Yoko Ono

Creative Direction: Nathalie Scarlette
Producers: DOCG + HANSIKA
Photography: Nathalie Scarlette
Model: Akelo Costa
Stylist: HANSIKA + Nathalie Scarlette
Gaffer: James Thompson
Video: Georgia Haynes + Sam Morton
Music: Mulalo + Felicity Yang + Kuya Neil
Location: Medra Genet Boutique

COPYRIGHT © POCC Mag 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Web Designed by Suyeon Park of Sutudio