Combining fashion, business and social change to create education and job opportunities for refugee and migrant young people.

Grant Type
Economic Empowerment

The Social Studio describes itself as part educator, part retailer, part production house and all about people. For the past 10 years, this not-for-profit has created jobs, provided education opportunities and fostered social inclusion for young Melbournians from migrant and refugee backgrounds.

“The Social Studio was started by a group of community members, local designers, and fashion industry professionals in inner-city Melbourne who wanted to use up-cycled fashion as a vehicle for social change,” explains Dewi Cooke, CEO at The Social Studio (TSS).

“We have grown and evolved and now we are an ethical fashion label, retail shop, education institution and social manufacturer that celebrates and mentors the creative talents of refugee and new migrant young people.

“These young people need the chance to use their voice, to express themselves and to have agency. We give them that through education and employment opportunities.”

TSS operates a number of projects from its headquarters in Collingwood, Melbourne.

- A store the Collingwood Yards exclusively stocks labels owned and/or designed by BIPOC and culturally diverse creatives. Every product sold generates funds for TSS’ education and training programs.

- A school that offers a two-year accredited Certificate III program in Apparel, Fashion and Textiles for young people from refugee, new migrant or non-English speaking background, and asylum seekers. It’s delivered in partnership with RMIT University.

- The Cut, Make and Trim manufacturing social enterprise creates high-quality clothing, accessories and textile homewares for TSS’ in-house label and third-party clients, including art centres, government and the local fashion industry. It is Victoria’s only Ethical Clothing Australia-accredited textile manufacturer.

The Bennelong Foundation supported the Social Studio’s Designing Our Futures program, which helps refugees transition into employment and/or further education. The program provides work readiness workshops, English language support, psycho-social support and help applying for further education and scholarships.

“This program was a significant contributor to the success our students' experience within our broader education and training offerings,” Dewi says.

“Students were empowered to dream beyond their TSS studies. It improved their mental and financial health as well as that of their families and communities.”

The program has now been incorporated into TSS’s Student Pathways Program, which has a dedicated coordinator and collaborates with other social sector agencies in Melbourne.

Find out more about The Social Studio here.

Impactful results

Making positive change

The Social Studio has enabled young Melbournians from migrant and refugee backgrounds participate in education, training and employment opportunities.


Better access to the training and skills young refugees need to find a job, earn an income and become self-supporting.


Better access to education that opens pathways to future career opportunities.

They need the chance to use their voice, to express themselves and to have agency. We give them that through education and employment opportunities.

Dewi Cooke

CEO, The Social Studio

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