WOLFTRESS Designers Jessie Helyar and Kartika (Tika) Putra were travelling through Ecuador, South America separately when fate brought them together at the end of 2012. Their shared love of different cultures, the appreciation of traditions and textiles, along with the dream of having a nomadic lifestyle immediately connected the two. Their shared passions lead to the creation of Jessie and Tika’s unique Australian fashion label Wolftress in 2013.
Wolftress is the spirit that celebrates and brings awareness to the importance of continuing traditional cultures worldwide. An indigenous community that has captivated the girl’s hearts and imagination has inspired each Wolftress collection. Each piece imparts the people’s stories and skills that Jessie and Tika have gathered on their travels. Every Wolftress piece is created using traditional fabrics, handmade by indigenous artisans working with respect towards their environment, beliefs and culture.
“The legend of Wolftress talks of a guardian of the land who travelled across deserts and seas, collecting stories and wisdom from tribal elders. This is the adventuring spirit that we both feel whispering deep within, reminding us to always explore, question, dream, love, laugh, travel, learn, live, inspire and release our inner wild Wolftress spirit.”Tika Putra
Wolftress collaborated with the ladies of Zhoucheng to create these hand-crafted patterns for the WE ARE WARRIORS collection. Named YANG – this material has been hand stitched then dyed and unraveled to create these beautiful patterns. Photo credit: Wolftress
WOLFTRESS It’s so amazing seeing designs come to life. WE ARE WARRIORS SS15 sketches by Jessie. Photo credit:Jessie Helyar
The Wolftress Winter collection titled THE AWAKENING, was launched in 2014, marking the beginning of the Wolftress journey. Following their trip through the Ecuador Highlands, the girls were inspired by the alpaca weaves of the local people and made a decision take the fabrics back to Australia. The collection incorporated strong, clean lines and silhouettes created from beautiful, hand-crafted fabrics from local Ecuadorian artisans.
NATIVE ROOTS was Wolftress’ Summer 2015 collection and incorporated rich contrasts of silk and hand-woven patterns inspired by the highlands of Ecuador. Native Roots represents strength and harmony true to the Wolftress style.
Wolftress THE AWAKENING Winter 2014 Collection (Left) and NATIVE ROOTS Summer 2015 Collection (Right) Photo credit: Toni Veziris (Left) and Ben Dilger (Right)
“There were such detailed textiles everywhere we went, unlike anything you see in Australia and if you do its usually just a printed copy. We thought how can we use these amazing traditional skills we are discovering with everyone back home in a fashionable style that we ourselves would also love to wear. How do we share these experiences and even more importantly preserve the age-old techniques. This is the reason Wolftress came to life.”Jessie Helyar
Since Wolftress launched, the girls were also holding down other jobs, Tika was a full-time engineer and Jessie managed a thriving Balmain (Sydney, Australia) bar. However, following the success of their collections, the girls decided to leave their jobs this year to focus their efforts on making Wolftress into a successful international fashion label.
The Wolftress Spring/Summer 2015 collection is called WE ARE WARRIORS and takes you to ancient China. For this collection, Jessie and Tika travelled to the Yunnan and Guizhou provinces of southern China and discovered the textile designs of the Bai and Miao ethnicities. Tika and Jessie learnt through their travels that there is less demand for traditionally made textiles because of the ease of manufacturing copy prints. China’s culture of mass production continues to threaten the artisan’s cultural and historical identity. The girls observed that the communities were realising that there was not enough money producing their traditional craft so the women started turning to farming.
Ecuador Highlands Photo credit: Wolftress
Jessie and Tika cycling in Yangshuo Photo credit: Wolftress
Jessie and Tika meeting the Long Horned Miao Ethnic minority Photo credit: Wolftress
The white stone Bai village, Dali, in the Yunnan province, southern China. Photo credit: Wolftress
“It was a gamble going to China. We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know if we would find the communities let alone the right fabrics for a collection.” Tika Putra
After travelling through the provinces, Jessie and Tika decided that the best match for the next Wolftress collection was found in the white stone Bai village, Zhoucheng, in the Yunnan province. Bai fabrics are traditionally used for blankets and curtains and the scale of production in Zhoucheng is larger than in Guizhou. The Bai artisans have organised themselves into collectives to produce fabrics on a large scale which provided the opportunity for Tika and Jessie to purchase fabric by the metre.
Jessie and Tika found a little village called Zhoucheng where women practise the age-old tradition of stitch resist textile dyeing. Photo credit: Wolftress
“We seek out traditional textile-making skills of ethnic communities around the world and utilise their fabrics in our collections. By working with these communities we hope to encourage and nurture ancient artisan skills.”Jessie Helyar
Jessie and Tika plan to continue their travels to uncover artisans from indigenous cultures and their unique handmade crafts and artistry. They hope to not just work with communities already capable of supporting themselves, but to encourage and assist struggling communities. As Wolftress continues to grow, Jessie and Tika hope to work with communities already capable of supporting themselves and to encourage and assist struggling communities so that the continuation of their crafts will ensure a more vibrant textiles future. Tika and Jessie choose to move to the beat of a different drum and invite you to step into the Wolftress world and share their continuing journey.
Wolftress Ancient Soul Jumpsuit – White (or Black) AUD$210.00 SHOP NOW
Wolftress Sacred Pagoda Blazer – Black (or White) AUD$240.00 Spirit Tales Pant – Black (or White) AUD$160.00 Moon Shadow Bralette – Yang AUD$85.00 SHOP NOW
Wolftress Model Left: Erhai Lake Sleeveless – White AUD$190.00 Cangshan Skirt – YIN AUD$110.00 Moon Shadow Bralette – YANG AUD$85.00 Model Right: Erhai Lake Sleeveless – YANG $190.00 Cangshan Skirt – YANG AUD$110.00 Moon Shadow Bralette – YANG AUD$85.00 SHOP NOW
“We don’t want to make fashion for fashion’s sake. We want to create garments with stories. We want people to connect with their clothes and with the people who make their clothes.” Tika PutraWOLFTRESS | an insight to our world from Wolftress on Vimeo. Wolftress travels the world in search for indigenous crafts, creates fashion statement pieces and raises awareness for these traditional textiles. This video was created with shots and details from the WE ARE WARRIORS Spring/Summer 2015 Collection. We partnered with the Bai ethnic minority of China to create exclusive patterns using their traditional stitch resist dyeing techniques to feature amongst our designs.
SHOP WOLFTRESS SPRING/SUMMER 2015 NOW
Photography: Alexandra Mantoura Model: RoseMarie Marino @rosemariemarino
Sacred Pagoda Blazer – Yang AUD$240.00 Cangshan Skirt – Yin AUD$110.00 Moon Shadow Bralette – YIN AUD$85.00 SHOP NOW
Moon Shadow Bralette – YANG AUD$85.00 Spirit Tales Pant – Black (or White) AUD$160.00 SHOP NOW
Sacred Pagoda Blazer – White (or Black) AUD$240.00 Moon Shadow Bralette – YIN AUD$85.00 Spirit Tales Pant – White (or Black) AUD$160.00 SHOP NOW
Erahi Lake Sleeveless – YANG AUD$1909.00 Moon Shadow Bralette – YANG AUD$85.00 SHOP NOW
Erahi Lake Sleeveless – White AUD$190.00 Moon Shadow Bralette – YIN AUD$85.00 Cangshan Skirt – YIN SHOP NOW
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