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Today we bring you another instalment in our popular Alumni series – this time we catch up with Dee Varel, BATD 2012 graduate, who describes herself as a ‘Melbournian Textile designer, Knitter and explorer based in İstanbul’. With that kind of an intro, let’s see what she’s been up to since leaving BATD!


Image: Dee Varel


  1. What is your current role?

I’m currently working as a Knitwear Designer for a Turkish Yarn Company, Ormo in İstanbul. I design knitwear collections for Nako (their in-house label) as well as international client based projects and trade shows.



  1. Tell me a little bit about your background – how did you come to textiles and where has it led you?

I always had an interest in fashion. I was one of those kids who liked to wear costumes as day wear. During High school I started working in an Op shop on the weekends which eventually lead me to studying Textile Design.

I started with a Diploma of Studio Arts and Textile Design where I discovered my passion for knitting then later continuing onto the BATD and majoring in Knitwear. Whilst studying I went on a trip to Turkey and just fell in love with İstanbul. İn my final year of BATD I did an internship with a Turkish designer in İstanbul which lead me to moving there after completing my studies.

Image: Dee Varel in the Nako studio- image courtesy Dee Varel


  1. How do you define your style?

Living in Turkey has had a huge impact on my design outlook but I think I would describe my own style as eclectic, sometimes bold sometimes minimal but always with attention to detail. I feel that my style is always evolving by my surroundings, from the places I visit to the cultures that I come in contact with. Regarding knitwear I’m most inspired by knit structures themselves and how a technique can form, manipulate and evolve the structure of a garment.


  1. What does a typical working day involve?

I design knitwear collections for adults, Infants and children so a usual day starts with a good cup of coffee (as a true Melbournian). If I am in a research stage a day can consist of speaking to knitters, going to galleries, following fashion houses, blogs and designers for inspiration and trends. I do lots of hand drawing whilst in the design process and adding details and trims to the finished garments once they are knitted. Lastly being in the studio or on location on photoshoot days.


Image: Dee’s infants and womenswear designs for Nako – image courtesy Nako / Dee Varel


  1. What are the rewards of your job?

I have been lucky enough to travel and participate in couple of European Trade shows. H+H Cologne, Germany  (Craft Fair) and Pitti Filati in Florence, İtaly (Knitwear fair). Travel is such a great source of inspiration and knowledge,  and its really been a career highlight to exhibit at the Pitti Filati trade show.

Image: Nako designs at Pitti Filati – image courtesy Nako / Dee Varel


The plus of working in Turkey is I have direct contact with the factory and the people who produce my designs. The company I work for have a factory an hour out of Istanbul where there is a team of women who are our hand knitters. I get to communicate with them one on one which is such an advantage for me. I also get to see every stage of the yarn as its all made from scratch in the factory. Its nice to be a part of the whole process.


6.What are you looking forward to?

Im looking forward to advancing my knitwear skills and doing more personal projects. Who knows – maybe another European city!


To see a little more of Dee’s work, check out their website: Nako




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