Rowena, Juliana & Angela Foong
Meet the women behind High Tea with Mrs Woo - a proud, Australian-made, slow fashion practice and design brand. It is the collaboration of three sisters crafting eloquent, timeful clothing and accessories for modern thoughtful living.
Story & Philosophy
High Tea with Mrs Woo is the creative collaboration of sisters - Rowena, Juliana and Angela Foong. Established in 2004, their distinctive designs bridge the space between fashion and clothing, art and craft.
Fascinated with the memory of clothing, High Tea with Mrs Woo explores the ability of fashion to unfold a great yarn. They describe each garment like a character, an evocation or a moment in time - like Stuck in Ueno, Irreversible, The Collector, Waiting for Jack to name a few.
High Tea with Mrs Woo use traditional tailoring methods to develop unique shapes from conventional dress forms. The sisters appreciate and practice the time-honoured qualities of dressmaking. They practice Slow Fashion values - using materials and creating designs that are appreciated for their craftsmanship, wearability and materiality; maintaining a small and sustainable scale of production to make clothing that is worthy of care and enjoyment for a long and useful life.
We love a little drama in our styling but we're ultimately focused on the details and processes of our designs, producing highly wearable, long-lasting styles. With 20 years of practice, we're proud to see that the quality of our clothes are standing the test of time and being worn to death -!
Clothing Ethics & Sustainability
High Tea with Mrs Woo design and manufacture this distinctive clothing range from their workshop studio located in the light-industrial suburb of Islington, on Awabakal land, in the Newcastle and Hunter New England region of Australia.
With long-established partnerships with trusted suppliers like Potter Textiles (WA), Hempfortex (CN), Ueda Trading (JP), Circular Sourcing (MELB), MTK (MEL), Full Circle Fibres (QLD), Benjays Cutting Services (SYD), U-Aust (SYD) to name a few, they are consistent and careful in sourcing materials, ethical production and sustainable technology.
From day-to-day practices such as recycling and packaging supplies, to establishing good workplaces and relationships with staff, customers and suppliers, the sisters work thoughtfully to build a healthy, sustainable business model that cherishes and supports everyone in this supply chain.
By the very nature of slow, our business is innately doing good but it is dynamic, evolving work as technology and supply options develop over time. We're continually honing in on designs, processes and systems that move towards circularity in use of resources - from the way we power our business to the materials that we use.
Circular Design Practice
High Tea with Mrs Woo implement sustainable and circular design processes from the clothing and products they develop to their engagement with community, as seen in some of the results, applications and works in progress here -
- RECYCLED YARN Using textile cuttings (offcuts) that have been stored for 10 years, High Tea with Mrs Woo produced their first Recycled Yarn in collaboration with Dempstah - a Sydney–based textile design company, recycling Australian textile waste into spun yarn.
- TEXTILE RECOVERY High Tea with Mrs Woo established FABRICA pop-up studio during the Covid-19 pandemic to recover and archive fabric 'waste' from High Tea with Mrs Woo clothing production processes into a viable resource.
- AWARD High Tea with Mrs Woo collaborated with School of Creative Industries (University of Newcastle) on a Low Waste Slow Fashion Future project that won them first place in the inaugural national WE THE MAKERS Awards (National Wool Museum VIC x Aus Fashion Council) - see Six Seasons.
Mrs Woo Lifecycle - Pre-loved Marketplace
To help extend the life of Mrs Woo garments, the sisters have created High Tea with Mrs Woo Lifecycle Facebook Group - a marketplace for buying and selling pre-loved Mrs Woo garments of good to excellent condition. This community space is a respectful and thoughtful way for customers to pass on their Mrs Woo garments for others to enjoy when its time in their wardrobe is up.
Kintsugi for Clothing - Mending Practice
Borrowing from the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold alloy, High Tea with Mrs Woo developed a kintsugi for clothing practice as a way to cherish and extend the life of our favourite garments by visible mending with gold thread.
- 2022 - Kintsugi for Clothing mending workshop with TAFE Fashion Production students, Newcastle
- 2021 - Golden Mend Circle: Kintsugi for Clothing workshop at The Conscious Space event, Sydney
- 2019 - Golden Mend Circle: Kintsugi for Clothing workshop at Paper Boat Press Gallery, Brisbane
IMAGE CREDIT: Paul Dear
Mrs Woo x UPPAREL - Textiles Recycling Partnership
We’re passionate about pursuing a more sustainable economy and finding ways to design out waste. High Tea with Mrs Woo closes the loop here with UPPAREL - making it possible for you to send your clothes, linen and shoes for reuse and recycling.
Recycle your textiles through our partnership with UPPAREL and be rewarded with a $25 Store Credit* to spend at High Tea with Mrs Woo.
*Redeemable to spend on full-priced clothing range only.
Slow Wearing Well is a community initiative that the sisters started as a way to inform and inspire their customers, friends, family and greater community on ways to have a healthy, workable approach to their wardrobes and lives.
The sisters use this program to host LIVE Wardrobe Edit sessions, walking trails, mending workshops, events and gatherings to share skills, stories and knowledge so that they can promote and converse about clothing and fashion sustainability.
- 2019 LIVE WARDROBE EDIT session at Tamworth Regional Council Waste Warrior Expo was an open, public conversation to expose and delve into guest's wardrobe - thank you to Megan Scrivener (rural life wardrobe).
- 2018 LIVE WARDROBE EDIT sessions at The Fernery was an open, public conversation to expose and delve into guest's wardrobes - thank you to Meryl Ryan ('maximalist' wardrobe) and Lottie Consalvo ('minimalist' wardrobe).
- 2018 SLOW WEARING WELL event at Newcastle Art Gallery featured five designers-makers-purveyors pappa sven, High Tea with Mrs Woo, Studio Melt, Hide & Seeker and Yardsale Trading Co - who shared stories, experiences and knowledge over a weekend of presentations, store and studio visits.
IN PROGRESS The sisters are working with Islington Public School principal Kim Harris to produce a new sustainable hemp / organic cotton shirt with Hemp Clothing Australia for the students. They are also establishing a textiles recycling program with WORN UP to keep school uniforms from landfill, and converting this resource into school equipment and furniture.
Heritage & History
Our parents brought us here to Australia in 1988. We grew up in Malaysia and have strong childhood memories of our grandparent's 100 year old gold-smithing and clock shop which was also the family home. Worn wood, rusty tools, age-old materials and textures still resonate with us today. We also grew up with many strong women in our lives – our mother, grandmothers and many aunts. Mrs Woo is the synergy of women who inspire us.
Trained in Graphic Design and Visual Communication, Rowena and Juliana draw on their diverse design skills whilst Angela brings her Economics and Commerce background to form their dynamic and wonderful sisterly team. With a strong penchant for making and sewing skills cultured from young, they continue to work with a small production team from their Newcastle workshop to create High Tea with Mrs Woo.