An Industry Insight – Carla Zampatti


Carla Zampatti is Executive Chairman of Carla Zampatti Pty Ltd. She is board member of the Australian Multicultural Foundation, the European Australian Business Council, Sydney Dance Company, MCA Foundation and Scalabrini Village. Carla Zampatti is a former Chairman of the SBS Corporation, and a former director of several boards including Westfield Holdings and McDonalds Australia and former board member of Sydney Theatre Company Foundation.

Born in Italy, Carla settled with her family in Australia in 1950. In 1965, she produced her first small collection for Zampatti Pty Limited, followed two years later by a national launch and, in 1970, by the establishment of Carla Zampatti Pty Ltd. The Carla Zampatti label is now renowned for beautiful clothes that combine Australian creativity with Italian style.

Carla has been recognised with a number of Australian and international awards for achievement and excellence, including; Bulletin/Qantas Businesswoman of the Year, and in 1994 the fashion industry of Australia named her Designer of the Year. In 2004, the Italian government appointed Carla Commendatore (Commander) in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

Carla Zampatti now divides her time between her business commitments in Australia and overseas, her public engagements and other directorships.

How did you get to where you are today?

I knew from an early age I wanted to be in fashion and as there were no fashion schools the best and only way was to train in the industry. I was fortunate enough to find a job assisting the CEO of a small blouse company. I ended up taking over his design process as well as learning how the industry worked, where to buy fabrics, where to make the garments and who the buyers were.

What characteristics/skills do you look for in an Intern?

When I am looking for an intern, I am looking for someone with initiative, energy and enthusiasm and someone who is prepared to try anything. This enables us to give the student a variety of tasks which helps them understand how a company like ours works to benefit them in their future.

What has been the biggest highlight of your Career so far?

I have had many highlights in my career but the most memorable, and one of the most important was when my brand became widely recognised and I was asked by the Ford Motor Company to help redesign a car to better suit the women’s market. I worked with their designers and the outcome was a total sell-out, so much so that we repeated this initiative two years later with a range of two new models.

What makes someone stand out in an Interview?

Like the intern I would hire, the person who stands out in an interview will show initiative, drive and enthusiasm. In addition, I am always impressed when someone has done their homework about the company and has thought about how they would add value by being employed by the company. It requires some research on their part but I believe it also shows that this is the company they really want to work for.

What advice would you give to students wanting to pursue a Career in the Fashion Industry?

The advice I give to students is to try and do work experience in a company they think they would like. Impress with a will to learn. Apply for a job on graduation and learn everything possible about the industry. Remember there are many jobs in fashion and if you find the right one it will be fun. A good example is retail. Not enough realise what a creative and vibrant area this is and if you are outgoing and love being with and talking to people it will be fun. It is an avenue for creating fun and creating windows for events that bring people in, providing an experience for the shopper so she will be back for more. Retail is very much like show business. Customers want to feel good and you must entertain.