Schusser Threads

Published
June 1, 2022

Words
Mandy Lamont

Photos
Mandy Lamont

Schuss : to ski directly down a slope at high speed

Overlooking Mt Donna Buang at the back of Mt Dandenong is the studio of Abigail Burgess and Schusser Threads. Abi loved making barbie doll clothes for her sister growing up in Brisbane and on the many extended caravanning trips with her family, developed a love of travelling and exploring.

Looking for a direction after high school, Abi moved to Melbourne to study fashion design at RMIT. Learning everything about basic pattern making and sewing in first and second year, in third year she started looking into the early Antarctic exploration, creating a tailored Dyneema (ultralight weight) jacket and pants for a tailoring subject. She also went to Vancouver for a 6 month exchange in third year, getting into technical apparel focused Kwantlen Polytechnic University with teachers who had worked at MEC and Arcteryx. “The teachers there were amazing. I did a human ergonomic subject, a technical apparel subject and zero waste pattern cutting subject. All of which amalgamated into me coming home and starting to make a few T shirts out of Merino and some patchwork balaclavas. I did my whole fourth year around designing a ski collection focusing on how to make garments more comfortable, and a Thesis on whether the comfort of a technical garment can enhance the performance of someone in the context of back country and snow apparel.”

After uni Abi was making more things and figuring out a direction for her brand. “It was always going to be about providing technical apparel and outerwear for Australians, made in Australia and focusing on the younger market. There’s a lot of gear around that would appeal to an older person or hiker but there wasn’t really anything that was focused at a young snowboarder or skier in the technical space. This year I did some hiking pants, just as something summery that you could wear until winter, but the main focus of the brand is outerwear, and I intend to keep it that way. I’m really trying to develop this year’s Winter range to be as good as it possibly can be. It was hard to gauge what sizes people are going to buy, so it’s worked out best that everything’s made to order, wasting less fabric in the process.”

Aswell as her own brand, Abi sews for Terra Rosa Gear a few days a week. Makers of ultralight biking and camping gear, Abi has been making ultralight quilts, anoraks, and bivvy sleeping covers. She has done an internship and design work for Zorali, and just started working with an Aussie Snow brand in Torquay.  Starting her own brand in June 2020, “it’s been slow going as far as growth wise on Instagram,” Abi tells me, “but, it’s getting more consistent, which is nice. I can plan more around buying fabrics and doing certain things, and not having to spend all of my own savings to do it.” Working in a ski shop over the past 5 years has helped Abi put a range together and given her a knowledge of what’s happening in other brands.  “I’d love to see the brand grow to a point where it’s a full time operation and I’m able to have a shop front, remaining just big enough to continue making items to order is really important to me and the brand ethos, so it won’t ever become a mass produced operation.”

A skier who enjoys the style, background and heritage of snowboarding, Abi takes inspiration from the freestyle and freeride scene. “I’m not a good skier by any means, but I just like the whole culture of it. Getting set up for touring last year, I was only able to do one day up near Buller, which was a baptism of fire into the whole back country thing. Hiking up in waist deep snow which, for a newbie, is the hardest I’ve ever worked on skis. I really am keen to learn more about the back country. I know a lot about the product but I feel like I don’t know enough about actually going and doing it.”

With a diverse customer base from snow sports to ultra-light hikers with style, this winter’s range is pretty different to last year’s. Tweaking the jackets to make them easier to use, adding functionality and features with the feedback accumulated over the last year going into the new jackets Abi is super excited about them. “I’m focusing on getting the jackets really well designed. There are a few other items that I want to revamp before developing another outerwear garment. I think it’s worthwhile just having one really good item people trust and that then gives you the opportunity to design something else for people to like and get to go with the current item they’ve got. It’s a bit different to how most brands do it.”

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