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Carla Zampatti Reveals Why She Designed A Hijab For Westpac Employees

'It's Australia.'

25/10/2016 2:49 PM AEDT | Updated 25/10/2016 9:23 PM AEDT
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Manija Akbari is one of the many women who will wear the new hijab at Westpac.

Westpac's latest corporate wardrobe is different this year, not only because its designed by Carla Zampatti, but because it also includes a hijab.

The collection, which will be worn by 8,000 staff across 680 branches and 50 business banking centres around the country from April, also includes maternity wear and (if you haven't worked it out already) embraces cultural diversity.

Why?

"It's Australia," Zampatti told The Huffington Post Australia.

"My design room has cultural diversity and I find with each person they add value, they add a dimension I would have never considered or thought about simply because they come from a different country, a different culture, a different angle.

"I think cultural diversity is what has made Australia exciting."

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Carla Zampatti said cultural diversity is essential to both business and fashion.

The designer was approached by the bank after a staff survey nominated Zampatti to design the corporate wardrobe, which marks Westpac's 200 year anniversary.

Zampatti consulted with more than 200 staff members at the bank to design clothing inclusive of all men and women, young and old.

"The bank didn't want to look backwards, they wanted to look forward... and to have a modern age look," Zampatti told HuffPost Australia.

I'm a culturally diverse person too, so I absolutely empathise with newcomers working hard to succeed and show the Australian community we're a worthwhile import for the country.Carla Zampatti

"I'm a culturally diverse person too, so I absolutely empathise with newcomers working hard to succeed and show the Australian community we're a worthwhile import for the country.

"We add value in all kinds of ways, economically, socially -- and we do it well."

Born in Italy, Zampatti migrated to Australia with her family at just nine years old and is now an ambassador for The Social Outfit, which trains and employs refugees in Australia's fashion industry.

Westpac's Director of Women's Markets, Inclusion and Diversity, Ainslie Van Onselen, said senior leaders began discussing introducing the hijab 18 months ago before testing it with focus groups.

"The results came out positively, so we progressed with the design. Feedback from staff so far is that the hijab is subtle and blends beautifully with the broader uniform," Van Onselen told HuffPost Australia.

"Westpac has a long proud history of ensuring diversity and inclusion for our people, customers and communities. This is another way we can show our support for all our people -- allowing them to bring their whole selves to work.

"We believe that ensuring they feel and look great will result in the best customer service."

On Tuesday, 30 Westpac staff unveiled the corporate wardrobe alongside a preview of Zampatti's winter collection, which you can see here.

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Manija Akbari and Julia Gherjestani wear Westpac's new collection.

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Carla Zampatti and Westpac employees unveil the new collection in Sydney on Tuesday.

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Manija Akbari dons the hijab.

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