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Australian Designer, Australian Fashion, Australian Fashion Industry

We. Are. The. Standard.

January 29

Late in 2017, I had the pleasure of attending the Fashion Design Studio’s graduate show held at the very funky, inner city warehouse venue, The Commune.  Wildly patronised and positively buzzing, it was clear this was going to be a memorable night.  And it didn’t disappoint.  I happened to be sitting next to someone who commented … Australian designers really are up with the best, aren’t they? I thought about this for a moment and replied, yes. A deeply resonant, Yes. The very subject forms the main theme of many of my articles.  But then I refined my reply with greater detail and continued. Actually, I continued. We are the standard.

Australian designers. The global measuring stick of excellence. Creativity. Innovation. Talent. Surprise. Genius. The Future.  We knock out incredible imaginative bespoke pieces year after year. Without fail.  And you could be forgiven for thinking, seemingly, effortlessly.

Of course, this does not happen in a vacuum.  There are many dedicated, passionate, hard-working professionals who drive these codes of excellence over the finish line, but it all starts with a dream doesn’t it?

The dream of fashion. The glamour. The imagination. The inspiration. The runway. The fabric.

The blood. Sweat. And tears.

It’s as though their young souls dance to the vibration of their fashion passion pulling them forward into their fashion future. Of course, we do want them to have a future … and a brilliant one at that. 

May I remind everyone who is reading this article to please ensure that the future of these emerging designers is secured.  You might be thinking, what does that mean? It is not enough to patronise these events and be enthused for one night.  We need to be enthusiastic about their entire careers and support them for the long term. We need to constantly educate ourselves and fundamentally understand the importance of buying Australian labels not to mention supporting the institutions who create the creative playground and educational programs which underpin the success of Australian fashion globally.

All sixteen of the graduates who showed their collections should be applauded, loudly. My goodness. I have lost track of how many shows I have had the pleasure of attending. It struck me however that there was an aliveness that night, a tangible feeling of electricity in the air, mainly of talent undiscovered.

I was gently taken back in my mind to years past, of designers which have very permanent places in my own memory. Stuart Membery, Alannah Hill and Kit Willow came to the forefront of my mind as the various collections floated by. I loved the recurring themes of fine see through silks, elaborate detailing, bold ruching and my favourite, the flared pants. The clever use and innovative combinations of leather, wool, silk knits, feathers, faux fur, sequins, motifs, 3-D digital printing, vinyl, and corsetry … superb! … a wild and fantastical journey into the minds of true creatives and visionaries. I can’t possibly write more without mentioning the return of the all famous patent leather.  Dear Lord. How can anyone live without it?

Of course, who else should captain this ship, but the illustrious Nicholas Huxley and Sophie Drysdale who need no introduction and have led many an acclaimed designer right to the top.

Is it any wonder that Australia stands front and centre of the global fashion landscape. Are we not totally blessed to be able to enjoy the spectacle of world class fashion design in our own beautiful backyard.

We do not hold up a standard.

We are. The. Standard.

There is not a country in the world who would argue that Australian designers lead the way.

Collection by collection. Each and every season. Each and every year.

Photography | Romualdo Nubla | Studio MOR

Meet Gillian Garde

I totally loved this collection by Gillian Garde. Her Norwegian heritage, and her collection Bloodline, “seeks to create timeless, luxury ready-to-wear”. I found this collection wearable, romantic, dreamy and fun. It is always inspiring when a collection evokes the imagination of an audience for a momentary space in time. In her words, “a nostalgic journey into the past seen through the lens of modernity”. Gillian Garde Instagram

Photography | Romualdo Nubla | Studio MOR

Meet Maddison O’Connell

Then there were the unforgettable whispers of the earlier collections of Camilla Franks brought to life by Maddison O’Connell with her collection Lalude the Label, a luxury resort wear brand with a distinctive bohemian spirit embodying complex folk-like craftsmanship. Her full bodied collection of swim and resort wear boasted the use of lace, sequins, knitted silk and fringing in a colourful and happy colour way of turquoise, pinks and pastels with middle eastern motif. Lalude The Label Instagram

Photography | Romualdo Nubla | Studio MOR

Meet Alixa Holcombe. 

Alixa The Label is described as one of urban sensibility through the hand work and detail to her high end womenswear.

I loved Alixa Holcombe’s use of tie-dying and her hooded cream jacket with the tree scape motif was one of my standouts.  One of the very important aspects to any collection in my opinion is the intrinsic commercial value and I felt that this collection really answered the call. Inspired by the Australian bush, her collection “Lost” explores wandering in the wilderness, the imaginary character, who becomes disorientated from exposure to the elements”.  Alixa Holcombe Instagram 

Photography | Romualdo Nubla | Studio MOR

Meet Victoria Scott.

ORIA was also a collection I felt to be extremely commercially viable. Her twist on the denim and white shirt look was refreshing and incredibly wearable.  I loved her use of see-through fabric and the checked coat dress was very cool. Her one-shoulder look was nicely done and I loved the return of the flared pant.  Her collection was strong, contemporary, flowed, and felt complete. ORIA Instagram

Photography | Romualdo Nubla | Studio MOR

Meet Lauren Anderson

Lauren Anderson “focused on the social and cultural philosophies of historical and modern Japan. The ultra-feminine Harajuku style, which celebrates the youth’s non-conformity to a restrictive present day culture” was unforgettable in candy pink. It was fun, quirky and eclectic. Lauren Anderson Instagram

 

Photography | Romualdo Nubla | Studio MOR

Fashion Design Studio Graduate Collection 2017 Gallery

Photography | Romualdo Nubla | Studio MOR

Photography | Romualdo Nubla | Studio MOR

Photography | Romualdo Nubla | Studio MOR

Photography | Romualdo Nubla | Studio MOR

Photography | Romualdo Nubla | Studio MOR

Photography | Romualdo Nubla | Studio MOR

I apologise to any of the young graduates from Fashion Design Studio who are not included here.  Time permits me from mentioning everyone.

Until next year … keep on dreaming!

The tide of appreciation and dedication to your growth and success in the Australian and global fashion industries is turning.

Until next time.

Jade x

Australian Fashion Industry, Editorial, Events, Fashion Designer

Raffles Graduate Runway 2016

December 12
Model on the runway wearing a white ruffled design by Ruth Read from Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway 2016.

Fashion is no longer just about ‘the garment’ …

Nick Comino

On Tuesday night Sydney’s Raffles College of Design took over Ambush Gallery in Chippendale for their graduate show 2016.

A huge open space, walls pulsating with tunes, matched with sheer adrenalin and anticipation running through the fashionista veins of this year’s graduating emerging fashion designers.

The charge in the air was tangible.

Each and every year, Australia welcomes a new group of emerging designers who hope to break into the Australian fashion industry. It is competitive, fiercely challenging and not for the feint hearted. The vast global arms of the international fashion industry at large and its devotees stand and wait with baited breath, beckoning those to live up to the industry standard. And in Australia, that bar is high. Very high. At least creatively.

Commercially our industry has suffered greatly through years of the ever changing climate of the digital age, struggling economic trends, and the inevitable rise of the “fast fashion” chains.

It has long been the case, for independent designers, that success is difficult to achieve and recognition difficult to attain. Support, government funding and financial backing are not as easy to come by as one might think.

I know it is the sentiment of myself and many others that the nurturing of our beloved industry back to its former glory days is a work in progress, for established designers and particularly for emerging talent.

I am pleased to report, I am really starting to see the tide turn.

Thankfully …

Enjoy xx

Backstage scene at the Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway 2016 at Ambush Gallery.

Backstage | Raffles Graduate Runway 2016 | Photography Jessica Fekonia

We habitually look at fashion as the spectacle and traditionally iconic.

Nick Comino

The space was filled with chatty, enthusiastic people who clearly loved anything creative.

This year, different to last, where the event was held at Carriageworks in a traditional runway setting.

2016 saw the graduate fashion designers share their space with other graduating Raffles students from Fashion Marketing, Photography, Interior Design, Graphic Design and Digital Media.

I had a long chat with Nick Comino, Raffles Program Director, who said, “this year we wanted to produce a show that encompassed everyone. We habitually look at fashion as the spectacle and traditionally iconic, so this year, we wanted to address things a little differently”.

He added, “even though a lot of the designers who have historically graduated from Raffles, may not have a label as such, the course offers them the opportunity to explore themselves and their own minds. Most find placement within the industry that we all love. Fashion is no longer just about the garment”.  

I also spoke to Betsabeh Sohrabi-Sabi.  The Assistant Program Director of Fashion and teacher of the course, Fashion Marketing. I asked her about how she felt about the contrast of her fashion marketing students showing alongside the runway of graduate emerging fashion designers; so different from the preceding year. She proudly showed me the work of her fashion marketing students; an essential wheel of course in the industry of fashion and the imperative and successful marketing of such.

Shortly after 7pm the lighting changed and the audible sighs of said fashionistas filled the room.

It was a full and excited house. The usual, wonderful suspects were there.  Fedora hats, latest cuffed chinos and expensive brogues, not to mention the ever present designer handbag. Sky high heels, with and without platform, and carefully curated outfits. One doesn’t like to stare … but sometimes you just can’t help it! Surprisingly, many of the girls sported flats … an ever increasing trend I have noticed during recent months and events. A spill over from fashion week this year, with an obvious hint of permanence. Thank God! That’s a trend I’m all for!

Amazing tailoring, creative skill, and sheer mastery of sewing and construction went to Ruth Read who was selected to participate in an exchange program in Milan, an experience that fortified her attention to detail and craftsmanship, leading her to becoming a finalist for Emerging Designer of the Year in the 2015 Australian Wool Awards. Read currently has an internship with Vogue Australia, and will be travelling to Milan next year to gain further experience and refine her artistry. She said, “The making of fashion garments allows me to explore deep levels of personal expression. My designs and making processes allow me to develop fashion forms that communicate a ‘breaking through’ emotion. The final garment becomes a point of balance between internal and external. An equilibrium of dark and light”.

Model on the runway wearing a white ruffled design by Ruth Read from Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway 2016.

Ruth Read | Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway 2016 | Photography Romualdo Nubla Studio MOR+

 

Model on the runway wearing a white ruffled design by Ruth Read from Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway 2016.

Ruth Read | Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway 2016 | Photography Romualdo Nubla Studio MOR+

 

Model on the runway wearing a white ruffled design by Ruth Read from Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway 2016.

Ruth Read | Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway 2016 | Photography Romualdo Nubla Studio MOR+

 

Model on the runway wearing a white ruffled design by Ruth Read from Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway 2016.

Ruth Read | Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway 2016 | Photography Romualdo Nubla Studio MOR+

 

Another standout in the designer line up for me was Alexandra Uyen Nguyen. A label for both men and women, I loved her use of black and white and the “Flintstone” feel of her geometric prints. The see-through top combined with cotton; very clever, and my other favourite, the oversized, off the shoulder top with big bold stripes. I thought the collection refreshing indeed. Her collection, ‘States of Mind’ was influenced by the work of ‘outsider’ artists like Yayoi Kusama. Through the use of repetitive prints and oversized silhouettes her work challenges the conventional social norms of fashion.

Model on the runway in a striped oversize top with white skirt with geometric pattern at the Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway 2016.

Designer | Alexandra | Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway 2016 | | Photography Romualdo Nubla Studio MOR+

 

In Hayley Kang’s collection, we saw the return of the classic sundress, a black and white maxi skirt teamed with an interestingly created crop top, and the use of blue and orange tones combined. Men’s suiting; a combination of pastels worked alongside plain grey, teamed with cropped drop crutch pants. I enjoyed the assymetrical skirts and her clever take on the geometrically patterned pea coat with “crayon effect”design. The use of fabric with self patterned spots, fringing and lattice work was inspiring. An altogether Alice McCall feel to me. Apparently, inspiration for the collection came from a traditional Korean folk tale about a masked dance, the purpose of which was to breathe courage into people, to break through the status quo and forego self-regulation.

Hayley Chang | Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway | Photography Romualdo Nubla Studio MOR+

Hayley Chang | Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway | Photography | Jessica Fekonia

 

Mary Quach … more black and white. In my opinion, always a winner on the runway and in life. I could see from very quick glimpses of her graduate collection that this young lady has the gift of design, sewing, and commercial ability. I loved the men’s cropped white trousers with a broad panel of fabric finishing off the hem. The gorgeous red coat with subtle stripe and hood, a traditional take on the duffle coat of old. Her women’s black pants shown with an interesting, wearable and textured top. Her collection to me had an almost industrial feel and laboratory driven design. I loved the details of lacing, the use of industrial climbing ropes, and gorgeous khaki sensibility. Her collection embodied fashion in an era of political subterfuge and dysfunction. A collection directly influenced by the Japanese film ‘Akira’ and its dystopian vision, coupled with the aesthetic influences of the constructivist design movement of the Russian revolution. 

Alyce Chen’s beautiful cornflower blue leather dress was a standout also. A truly beautiful, wearable creation which I personally would like to see more of. Her collection explored female sensuality and sexuality as historically portrayed in romantic literature and painting.

Model on the runway wearing a cornflower blue leather dress by emerging designer Alyce Chen.

Alyce Chen | Raffles College of Design Graduate Runway 2016

Laura Davis’ work was a collection of immense quality. Clever layering, feminine skirts, and a beautiful green, long flowing coat closely related to the trench, but created outside of the box in super fun fabric. I loved her colour combinations, an art in itself. Her use of applique fabrics, unfinished hems, raw edges, and assymetrical skirts were interesting, versatile and wearable. “Frustrated by the perpetual revolving door of fashion, Laura took matters into her own hands, creating a label that represents a beautiful, minimalist life that prioritises style over quantity”.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to write about everyone in an article such as this, as time does not permit. Congratulations to all the emerging designers.

People are watching you. You are loved!

I should mention as a spokesperson for the Australian Fashion Industry … that our extremely talented established and emerging designers and their creative teams need your support.

What does that mean? It means we need you to spend your fashion dollar on Australian labels. Read our editorials. Buy tickets to events.

Follow LABEL MINISTRY on social media so our platform can become THE VOICE and THE PLATFORM. In this way, our work and our passion can ripple out to those whose full hearts are relying upon our work, far and wide across Australasia and the world.

Jade Cosgrove sitting in Ambush Gallery waiting for the Raffles College of Design graduate runway for emerging designers to start 2016.

Jade Cosgrove | Founder | Label Ministry | Photography | Romualdo Nubla | Studio MOR+ | Raffles Graduate Runway 2016

LOVE US on Facebook   &   FOLLOW US on Instagram

Until next time,

Jade xx

Thanks To |

Special thanks should go to Romualdo Nubla, the photographer behind StudioMOR+. Romualdo is devoted to supporting, photographing, and representing Australian fashion, Australian emerging designers, and Australian Fashion Week and associated festivals across the fashion calendar year.  Without these devoted professionals our industry would not exist. Please support so that our beloved fashion industry can flourish once again.

Studio MOR+ | StudioMOR+ |

StudioMOR+ Facebook | Romualdo Nubla | StudioMOR+ | Instagram

Raffles College of Design |

Raffles College of Design

Designers Featured |

Ruth Read Instagram

Laura Davis | Laura Davis Instagram

Mary Quach Instagram 

Alexandra Uyen Nguyen Instagram

Hayley Kang Instagram

Coat Hanger Logo done in black on white in the style of chinese calligraphy and paint brushing style with the words Label Ministry placed in capital letters below it.

 

Australian Fashion Industry, Editorial, Photography, Styling

Karlstrom Creatives

November 8
Picture of a girl in black and white with large round sunglasses and long brown hair.
Model with blue hair standing in colourful skirt and top with high heeled white shoes for a campaign shoot.

Karlstrom Creatives | Photography | Peter Karlstrom | Stylist | Leigh Karlstrom

 

 

The passion and love comes from creating something that is yours. We see what we do as a story and the characters just come to life.

Petter Karlstrom

 

One of my most favourite topics within the realm of Australian fashion is the creative team. We often take for granted the contribution that these teams make to the success of independent designers, important events, and the general gorgeous hype that our industry rocks. No other creative team is more deserving of this kudos which is the topic of my latest editorial.

Who are they? Karlstrom Creatives.

I absolutely love the work of Petter and Leigh Karlstrom.

They have reached, what I consider to be, the pinnacle of creative prowess.

Petter and Leigh Karlstrom are the dynamic duo. Quite literally. Petter is the photographer,  Leigh the stylist.

I first discovered their work when I interviewed the amazing Chisato Chris Arai, another creative genius. Definitely one of Australia’s most coveted makeup artists. If you have not discovered Chris Arai yet, do yourself the pleasure of checking out her work. Just navigate through the menu to her article. Truly inspiring.

But back to the Karlstrom duo. Their work is fresh, inspiring, different, engaging, and pure creativity. It is the epitome of imagination and fantasy, and I love it!

I can’t sing the praises of these people enough. I know, I know. You think I say that about everyone I interview. Well I do try to sing everybody’s praises. That’s true. But it is never undeserved, as I am blessed to be granted interviews with the very coolest of people!

Every now and again, you come across people and talent that is truly special. And this article is about these human gemstones.

Petter told me, “the streets inspire us. Characters and spaces. I usually get an idea from being at a cool location and then the rest just comes naturally”.

Continue Reading…

Australian Fashion Industry, Editorial, Fashion Designer, Global Fashion Industry, Interview

Frederick Jenkyn

September 26
Model | Kelly Hockey Place | London Designer | Frederick Jenkyn Photographer | Chris Fatseas

Frederick Jenkyn, Australian Fashion Designer, TAFE Ultimo. The Innovators.

As all of my devoted followers already know, earlier this year, I had the pleasure of perusing on mass, the breathtaking young smorgasbord of talent that Australia serves up each and every year at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. After the week long event, which is the highlight of the years for all Australian fashion devotees, I methodically work my way through the incredible mix of entrepreneurial youth, offering them the opportunity to publish an affordable and effective public relations interview to promote their names and their emerging brands.

Frederick Jenkyns collection was outstanding. I met him the very day of the unveiling of his collection, but am bringing you this interview after corresponding with him in London, his new place of residence.

As I am sure you are aware, and if you are not, please consider this.

Our emerging designers are quite literally our fashion future.  They represent the group of people who will lead us strongly, both locally and internationally, in the ethical and sustainable production of our beloved fashion industry. Young people such as Frederick will most likely be the names behind your choice of dressing and the other interiors of our design lives for decades to come. It is essential that we support them, read about them, buy their product and offer them our gratitude and encouragement.

Please remember to share  the love.

Australian fashion is depending on you …

 

Meet Frederick Jenkyn.

In five years? I want to have my own studio with pattern makers/design assistants. A machinist and a social media/online manager.

Rolls and rolls of fabrics and a stock room filled to the brim.

I would like to think I’ll be complaining about needing more space. But then I will think, I need to pay for the embroidery for next season so it’s not a good time to upgrade.

I will only wear black. In case someone visits the studio and I won’t look a mess.

And in the bottom draw of my desk, that looks like a filing draw, I’ll keep some throw rugs for the “before show” all-nighters.

Frederick Jenkyn

 

Model Kelly Hockey modelling in London for Frederick Jenkyn. Photographer Chris Fatseas.

Here is Frederick Jenkyn’s story so far …

Frederick Jenkyn as a brand emphasises wearable innovation through unconventional textiles and hand crafted detailing traversing the borderline between couture extravagance and everyday wearability.

Frederick Jenkyn

 

Continue Reading…

Australian Fashion Industry, Editorial, Fashion Designer, Interview, Styling

Super Style Me – Bec Cole

May 15
Model standing on an airfield in a beautiful white flowing dress, completely lace up open boots and vintage beaded head gear with an old fashioned aircraft taking off the background behind her. Very hollywood setting and incredibly creative the a real feel of movement to the picture.

I first discovered the work of Bec Cole when I was at VAMFF earlier this year.  Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival is always a treat as it combines the week long excitement of the runway with a cultural taste of Melbourne itself, and it truly is a wonderful delicatessen of fashion experience.

On one of the last days, through the haze of my exhaustion I could feel my interest pique when I saw Bec’s work, and made a mental note to myself as I do to remember to contact her with a view to highlight the obvious dedication to her work when I returned home.

Bec is one of the highly talented, hard working stylists, and passionate devotees of the Australian fashion industry, who travels far and wide to bring us the wonderful smorgasbord of visual delight that only such a stylist can.

A kind of creative hero if you like. I feel we tend to forget the amazing creative minds and teams who sit behind the creation of the collections of fashion designers. Personally, I believe it is so important to remember to applaud the work of these dedicated professionals who work tirelessly behind the scenes.

Very loudly.

Enjoy xx

Girl sitting on a rock with the late grey and cloudy sky behind looking down dressed in a black dress and a very wide black leather belt.

Stylist |Bec Cole | Photographer | Benn Jay | Hair & Makeup | Blanka Dudas

LM

What do you believe is the role of “the stylist”?

BC

A stylist is a visual translator….helping a designer, art director or editor achieve a look, story and campaign brief. It’s helping create a visual reality….This can be anything from dressing talent, liaising with designers to designing sets and alternative worlds.

I have a background in set design, so I love seeing a whole vision come to life….this includes not only the wardrobe side of things, but the propping, set design….even the casting of the talent /  models. It’s helping everything come together visually to tell the whole story.

Continue Reading…

Australian Fashion Industry, Editorial, Global Fashion Industry

NarcisSista Fashionista

April 1
Facial Shot of Kim Kardashian

“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life

Bill Cunningham

I’ve always loved the word Fashionista, even though it is not young any more and has been totally overdone now.

How about Narcissista Fashionista? A little ugly I feel but in some cases, unfortunately does have a ring of honesty about it?

This article is not your conventional article about one’s love of fashion, although the author is most certainly a lover of not only fashion, but the industry itself. Perhaps I am one of the greatest lovers of fashion of all time. Every now and again I feel the need to express something that is really bothering me. Something I believe is affecting us all on some level.

As a woman who loves fashion, and wears it with pride and excitement I appreciate it as an art form. I revere the designers whose souls bleed passion and despair, and very often, blood, because they are so in love with their chosen trade. Business people they are often not, without the obvious trials and tribulations of learning, but without doubt, human fountains of talent and commitment to the industry they adore. That in itself captures my personal respect and dedication. And my desire to support them and become their complimentary PR company.

As a small child, I changed my outfits multiple times in a day. Why? Because I could.

I have no idea why I have always been so drawn to fashion. I was a little girl who loved colour, pattern, looking pretty and the very feel of a different fabric on my skin. Not to mention the obvious attention that I received from people around me when they noticed that I had created a gorgeously cute and colourful outfit which provided a visual spectacle. Remember of course, I was only five years old, so the scenario was a simple one.

As I became older, my love of fashion matured and grew with me. I realised that it was the key to one’s individuality and the express permission we give ourselves to authentically adorn the world with our chosen cloth.

Once upon a time, the concept of such was a given. The world of fashion and our chosen favourite fashion designers allowed us to explore the idea of individualism fully. We revelled in the idea of being happy with the way we looked and improving upon it. We did not feel the need to look twenty-five for our entire lives. We were not worried that if we had a line on our face that we might, and probably would be, put out to pasture. We knew that wisdom and life experience counted for something, and that when the journey of our lives started to show on our faces, it was something to be proud of. We did not spend money that we didn’t have on botox, injectibles, or augmentation of body parts that we did not need or could easily afford. I am not totally against these procedures, but I do believe that too much work can make us look like aliens to ourselves and others.  We did not always obsess about all the hidden parts of ourselves, that no one even really sees or even wants to see, years ago. Correct me if I am wrong, but it almost seems like we have become totally obsessed with the parts of ourselves which are quite private. It seems normal to me now that nearly every second person sports at least one tattoo, piercing or very often both.

The value system and the things that we placed importance upon did not demand the spring of eternal youth, as it does now. Colouring our hair, colouring in our skin like colouring books, and creating hairless bodies and landscaping private pieces of ourselves so that we may be more acceptable to others, has almost become a full time occupation outside of our working lives.

No. We concentrated more fully on being the best we could be by developing ourselves, not changing our appearance.

When our culture, our society and our lives were culturally healthier than they are today, we used fashion to provide us with the vehicle we needed to develop our self confidence and underpin our creative expression of self through the unique canvas that God graciously gifted us.

Our desire to dress and our enjoyment of such created important growth and sustainability of local and global fashion industries. This growth provided ongoing opportunity for our wonderful creative minds to freely design, as individuals, and dare I say, created thousands of jobs. It afforded an atmosphere where confident designers could be inspired, driven by their own passion and be encouraged to create without the tsunami of suffocation caused by the commercial pressure to succeed and the current unsatisfactory model of mass fashion consciousness.

We were not stuck in the gridlock of limited choice and the destructive habit of purchasing fast, furious collections of fashion that flood our shopping malls at all too regular intervals.

We are continuously fed these sub-quality lines of fashion by the likes of fashion giants and seem happy to justify or just ignore the damage to our local industry, because they are cheap and feed our constant need for newness and crude consumerism. But that is the problem. The greedily take up the most prominent spaces in our shopping malls and steal our annual fashion spend.

The question is why?

Why have we forgotten our own? Why don’t we support our own breed of wonderful, unique, individual designers who used to have the courage to open stores and bravely show their collections every season?

I have the answer for you. It was because they knew that we would support them.

Sadly that is not the case any more. We can’t be bothered. Our fashion economy has become homogenised, crippled, and quite frankly pretty uninteresting. I believe that part of the problem is that we are expected to be happy wearing some or much of this limited offering and therefore are also expected, by-and-large, to be happy looking like everybody else.

To finish this article on a high note however, I am very pleased to report however that my recent visit to Melbourne Fashion Festival inspired me. I saw many wonderful collections, and witnessed much wonderful emerging talent. Young designers will full hearts and great enthusiasm for the industry they love.

Looks like the rules might just be starting to change … Hallelujah!

Until next time,

Jade xx

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Australian Fashion Industry, Editorial, Melbourne Fashion Festival, VAMFF

VAMFF Melbourne 2016

March 16
Models promoting the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival 2016.

Well. Here I am in Melbourne. March 2016. VAMFF. Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival. It’s been a hell of a week for a few different reasons. Travelling interstate for a week of fashion frenzy is, for any seasoned fashionista, and I guess I could call myself that, a hard slog. The “four seasons in one day” Melbourne weather took us from an unprecedented heat wave at the beginning of the week to full on rain a few days later. A pleasant but unexpected development. But! I have to say … well done Melbourne! What a great week. I moved gallantly through the week, albeit with moments of exhaustion, with equal doses of sheer determination and pure adrenalin. I have attended eight events, with some more to come, the last of which was Discovery Runway. I love the established designers, and I truly feel that nobody could love designer clothing and our amazing home grown designers more than I do. (I mean, really, who writes about this subject more than I do!) However, anyone that knows me well will know that the support and nurturing of emerging designers and their creative teams is where my true passion lies.

Anyway, back to VAMFF. Tonights Discovery Runway was a selection of eight Melbourne emerging designers who were invited to showcase their collections in the foyer of the Melbourne Museum, the new home of VAMFF. Four of tonight’s emerging designers have recently been showcased by Label Ministry as a vehicle of support and an offering of virtual love!

ASSK, Article. by Courtney Holm, Amxander & Lois Hazel stood out for me tonight, of course, as I have been pouring over their interviews and collections for weeks now.  Not only that, I have developed a rapport with these designers and have read with interest and affection their perspective on the world we live in, and their representation of it through the creation of their fashion labels. It is always an honour for me to interview these designers, as for the most part, they are grateful, respectful, and genuinely humble in their quest for support. They speak with honesty and transparency about the struggles of being an emerging fashion designer, where larger egos, and unsympathetic ears are often the mainstay of their business interactions. They share their hopes and dreams, the stories of their educational journeys, and how they aspire to design in the same vein and success as their industry icons.

I hope my voice, both in the literal sense of the word and in the form of my editorials brings them the kind of support which is so desperately needed for their guaranteed success. It is extremely heartening to me to hear of their gratitude, and be on the receiving end of their heartfelt thanks.

The love of their trade, their genuine concern for the future of our planet, and their continued efforts to shape a world in which we can all co-exist touches something deep inside me. Draping ourselves in beautiful fabrics, and accessorising ourselves in ethical and sustainable product because of the efforts these young people is something I feel immensely proud to be part of.

I hope that my work becomes their very own public relations voice.

One that is loud. One that is heard. One that makes the difference.

To everyone who participated in the Discovery Runway tonight.

All Hail …

I had the pleasure of interviewing some of them …

ASSK

 

Autumn/Winter 2015 Campaign. Asian girl sitting in an ASSK sweater with black and white textured wall behind.

Photographer | Elliott Lauren | MUA/Hair | Holly Rose Butler | Models | Chadwicks

 

ASSK is an anagram of the designers initials. Sarah Schofield and Agatha Kowalewski. The girls have been living in Paris working in the fashion industry for a few years. Sarah was working at Louis Vuitton, and Agatha was working as a stylist when they started ASSK in 2013. Their business and studio are based there and they have press offices in Paris and in NY.

Both girls are originally from Australia, and Melbourne especially has remained really important to ASSK.

They sell through Distal Phalanx in Melbourne, and have a really strong base there.

Their label has been heavily influenced by technology and internet culture.

The internet has always played a big part in the ASSK brand. Agatha and Sarah first connected on the internet and worked with Melbourne artist Oliver van der Lugt over the internet for two years before they met.

Their first four collections were sold via the internet over look books to people they didn’t know. In places they had never visited.

This interconnectivity through technology has been very important to them.

Label Ministry recently interviewed ASSK.

 

LOIS HAZEL

 

Model | Sarah Baxter | Photographer | Kim Mennen | HMUA | Emma Gillett

Model | Sarah Baxter | Photographer | Kim Mennen | HMUA | Emma Gillett

 

Lois Hazel graduated from RMIT’s Bachelor of Design in Fashion with first class honours in 2012. She then left Australia to work for the New York design house, Marchesa, and Iris van Herpen in Amsterdam. Lois returned to Australia, and her home town Melbourne in 2014. She launched her first capsule accessories range, and then her debut collection “Frayed” in 2015. She is passionate about ethical and sustainable practices, and hopes to bring positive change to the fashion industry by donating five percent of her profits to One Girl Australia.

She loves the fashion industry, but unfortunately feels that it does have its ‘fake’ moments. She says “only a small percentage of those involved really get the credit they deserve. I really want to make sure that in my practice people get the credit they deserve. I want to show my consumers not only where everything is made, but also that they can see it is a team effort”.

Label Ministry recently interviewed Lois Hazel.

 

AMXANDER

 

Model standing in front of a red wall dressed completely in black but wearing a donkey brown jacket with hoodie.

Amxander. Spring/Summer 2015

 

I have always been a fan of designers who tackle the menswear side of things. I feel that menswear is a part of the market, particularly in the emerging sector, which has been, and still is, under represented, at least by local designers. Talent like this, I haven’t seen for some time.  It’s wonderful to think that the dressing of the modern man is being catered for so beautifully. The main thing I love about this label is just simply it’s wearability. No fuss, manly, well tailored, nicely detailed, tasteful and well, I think pretty close to perfect.

It is a privilege for me to be able to write with such genuine enthusiasm about the talent of these young, upcoming, positive, talented, gracious, emerging designers. It is the red passion which fills my veins.

I just had to ask Mr Amxander himself, the questions that were burning a hole in my fashion week head.

Meet Amxander by Label Ministry.

 

ARTICLE. BY COURTNEY HOLM

Model standing in a area of earth moving soil in casual sports luxe attire.

Courtney graduated with First Class Honours from the University of Technology Sydney and her debut at L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival in 2013 led her to re-locate to Melbourne. It’s not hard to see why I loved interviewing Courtney, a young, dynamic, talented designer, who seems to have boundless energy.  Not only is she putting a collection on the runway at VAMFF in a couple of days, she also got married a couple of weeks ago. And I thought I was busy!

She is described by NJAL (Not Just A Label) as “the designer and director of sports-luxe Australian menswear label”, and that her “label is distinct for its assimilation of pop-culture street styling, elemental sportswear and tailoring details”, which is “designed and hand produced in Melbourne, injecting a fresh equilibrium of functional, high-end fashion into a niche menswear market”. And, “her use of varied materials, such as polyurethane plastics, luxury knits, sportswear and hard-wearing materials with quality cottons, silks and wool give each piece inner softness with an overriding masculine exterior. The amalgamation of high fashion detailing with sportswear and street style makes a bold statement while the prevalence of functionality, style and fit ensure a wearable outcome for a discerning customer”. 

Article. by Courtney Holm. The interview by Label Ministry.

Until next time,

Jade xx

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Australian Fashion Industry, Interview, Melbourne Fashion Festival, Men

Article. by Courtney Holm

March 9
Model standing in a area of earth moving soil in casual sports luxe attire.

I have been talking recently about the rising talent of some emerging menswear designers in Australia.  They are the new breed of emerging talent, and I feel the shift of greatness realigning our current industry. At least as we know it. It feels like I have stepped on a veritable goldmine of dynamic, enthusiastic, talented, passionate and downright savvy artists who have decided that the business of dressing men, needs … well, addressing.

Quite literally.

And how lucky are we that they seem to sitting right in our backyard.

Downunder.

Melbourne actually.

Ready for the upcoming fashion festival in Melbourne, VAMFF.

The spotlight for this article, is Courtney Holm. The name behind the label known quite simply as Article.bch.

Courtney graduated with First Class Honours from the University of Technology Sydney and her debut at L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival in 2013 led her to re-locate to Melbourne. It’s not hard to see why I loved interviewing Courtney, a young, dynamic, talented designer, who seems to have boundless energy.  Not only is she putting a collection on the runway at VAMFF in a couple of days, she also got married a couple of weeks ago. And I thought I was busy!

She is described by NJAL (Not Just A Label) as “the designer and director of sports-luxe Australian menswear label”, and that her “label is distinct for its assimilation of pop-culture street styling, elemental sportswear and tailoring details”, which is “designed and hand produced in Melbourne, injecting a fresh equilibrium of functional, high-end fashion into a niche menswear market”. And, “her use of varied materials, such as polyurethane plastics, luxury knits, sportswear and hard-wearing materials with quality cottons, silks and wool give each piece inner softness with an overriding masculine exterior. The amalgamation of high fashion detailing with sportswear and street style makes a bold statement while the prevalence of functionality, style and fit ensure a wearable outcome for a discerning customer”. 

Perhaps I should start this piece by sharing what I thought was a wonderful piece of her wisdom.

 

Support other brands by being a nice human and treating your fellow colleagues with respect, share contacts with them and collaborate.

 

I firmly believe in supporting local industries. As long as we have a Melbourne manufacturing industry and I am a part of the Melbourne community, I will support it.

 

LM

Firstly, I LOVE your menswear label. What inspired you to design for men?

ABCH

Thanks Jade. I started the menswear journey at university. I was studying fashion design at UTS which is primarily targeted at teaching womenswear design. In my third year we did a menswear subject and everything kind of fell into place. I’d been struggling to find any satisfaction in womenswear design, but as soon as I began designing clothing for men, it felt right. I decided to major in menswear in my honours year. From there, I just knew that was what I was good at and I wanted to pursue it. I started my label a few years later after working with some amazing designers such as Romance Was Born and Strateas Carlucci.

LM

Why sports-luxe, and what is the finer definition of this term in your view?

ABCH

I have been championing this style since before I graduated but for Article. by Courtney Holm, sport-luxe is not just a catchy phrase. It’s a timeless way of styling and designing. I design high-end fashion, but it is heavily influenced by the things in my world. One of those things is health and fitness and a love for the comforts and technicality of sportswear, such as technical fibres, compression panelling, elasticated waistbands, pullovers and drawstrings. I weave these things into high fashion garments to make them the ultimate wearable goods. To me, this term means a sense of quality and durability.

Model standing in an urban setting under a bridge dressed in the sports-luxe wear and technical fabric inspired by pop and internet culture, and elemental street styling.

Article. by Courtney Holm

LM

I believe the production of your garments is in Melbourne … has that been challenging for you to maintain?

ABCH

Yes, all my goods, apart from a t-shirt which is manufactured in Sydney, is produced in Melbourne. It is definitely a challenge, especially for keeping costs down. That is the hardest thing. I firmly believe in supporting local industries. As long as we have a Melbourne manufacturing industry and I am a part of the Melbourne community, I will support it. I feel sad that so many industries are seeing manufacturing go offshore, fashion included. I believe that soon there will be a return to local manufacturing and buying, but if we lose all our skills here in the meantime, it won’t be good news for our fashion labels in the future. 

LM

What do you see as the main challenges for an emerging designer in Australia?

ABCH

The main challenges I have faced are finding the right stockists for my niche non-traditional menswear market. Also, Australia has so many amazing designers, but often they are forced to go overseas and prove themselves offshore before they are fully embraced by our country. I find this annoying if anything. It’s also a challenge when starting a fashion business if you don’t have a lot of capital upfront, you have to wear so many hats for a long time until the business is profitable. 

Model standing in an urban setting under a bridge dressed in the sports-luxe wear and technical fabric inspired by pop and internet culture, and elemental street styling.

LM

Do you believe that the Australian fashion industry as a whole is supportive of emerging designers?

ABCH

I believe that in Melbourne there is more support for emerging designers than in other cities in Australia. I have lived in both Brisbane and Sydney, but the support in the Melbourne community has been outstanding in comparison. I still think we have such a long way to go if we compare ourselves to what other countries do to support their emerging designers, including fashion business specific grants, championing local manufacturing, industry contacts and mentoring. Fashion is a massive industry with huge potential in Australia, but often fashion businesses are not treated with the same respect.

LM

If you could change three things about the support structure of our current industry, what would they be?

ABCH

  • More pathways to funding/investors for fashion businesses
  • More support from Australian media/PR agencies for emerging designers
  • Initiatives that reward and champion local manufacturing. Reinvent “Made in Australia”. This should be something to be proud of.

LM

Do you think it is more difficult to design for men than women?

ABCH

No. I find designing for men much more satisfactory and it comes more naturally to me.

Model standing in an urban setting under a bridge dressed in the sports-luxe wear and technical fabric inspired by pop and internet culture, and elemental street styling.

LM

Is the market of male consumers easier to please on the whole, or do you think it is more challenging than the womenswear market?

ABCH

I think it is more challenging in Australia, as men dress much more conservatively. What you see is really either formal/corporate or casual street/surf wear. It’s a small market of men who are truly “fashionable” in this country, however it is growing! Overseas the market is larger, but the competition is greater. 

LM

What is your view of the importance of showing your collections on the runway?

ABCH

I think it is so important to show the world that Article. by Courtney Holm is not going anywhere.

We are here to stay, and are a reputable brand who intends to grow! I think it’s important to keep being involved in runway shows as at this stage, it’s the best way to get your collection “out there” and I am using this runway to launch my latest collection which I am so excited to reveal on Thursday!

LM

I understand you use a lot of technical fabrics. Could you please explain what this actually means and how these are fabrics produced?

ABCH

Technical fabrics utilise modern technology to create a fabric that is somehow enhanced or gives a greater performance than a woven or knitted natural fibre in the traditional sense is able to. I use coated waterproof fabrics and zippers, super lightweight membranes that weigh just over half an once per metre, ripstop fabrics that don’t tear under duress and compression fabrics that improve circulation. Mostly these fabrics are produced with technical yarns woven into the fabrics. Some are coated. Nanotechnology has allowed man-made fibres to be modified beyond what used to be perceived as cheap polyesters and the like. Now these materials are highly technical in their molecular makeup and refined for specific performance use in mind. It’s quite fascinating, especially when you start to mix these with natural fibres. 

Model standing in an urban setting under a bridge dressed in the sports-luxe wear and technical fabric inspired by pop and internet culture, and elemental street styling.

LM

What are the benefits of creating these fabrics?

ABCH

It’s the future!

Imagine a lightweight fabric that is as strong as armour? Or a material that releases smells, sounds or temperature changes? Imagine clothes that can change colour on their own to reflect your mood? The technology is already here, it’s just a matter or time before they are readily integrated into our clothing. Some things will be incredibly useful and powerful, other things will be purely for aesthetic and fun. The materials I use in my collections are just scratching the surface of what is possible. 

LM

Who would you describe as the Article. by Courtney Holm man?

ABCH

He’s a guy who loves to dress for himself. He doesn’t mind colour, cool fabrics or standing out. He is a creative and a thinker, he is into fitness, health and technology. However, ultimately he wants the clothes to feel amazing on his skin and last for a lifetime of use. 

LM

How do you believe the menswear market differs in Australia to international markets?

ABCH

I mentioned earlier that the Australian market is more conservative, I think there are a greater number of guys overseas dressing to stand out and to make their own statement. I think in Australia, these statements are made by wearing socks with suit pants, or having one unique accessory. We are much more conservative and slower on the uptake of trends. It’s gradually changing and I do see more guys dressing with some interesting ideas especially as new menswear labels pop up and gain momentum here. 

Model standing in an urban setting under a bridge dressed in the sports-luxe wear and technical fabric inspired by pop and internet culture, and elemental street styling.

LM

Do you see yourself growing and expanding to other markets and if so, where?

ABCH

Yes, my hit list is Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and London.

LM

What is your view generally about ethical and sustainable fashion?

ABCH

I believe every fashion business has to make a choice about whether they will go for the cheapest option, or the more sustainable and ethical option. Sometimes these two things align, but often they don’t. Everyday choices towards wastage, how you treat people in and outside of your business and research about where your products come from and the people involved are what make you sustainable and ethical.

You can’t claim ignorance in our current climate, it’s just not good enough. We have all the resources at our fingertips, and it takes a lot of work and time to investigate the various options we have in sourcing, manufacturing and delivery but I believe that it’s essential to ensure our future. 

LM

Where does the inspiration for the designs on your fabrics come from?

ABCH

Various things that take my interest. Body parts, photos I have taken of my drape work, sketches and more. Usually it’s a very literal thing that I will manipulate over and over until I get an abstract result that I am visually excited by.

Model standing in an urban setting under a bridge dressed in the sports-luxe wear and technical fabric inspired by pop and internet culture, and elemental street styling.

LM

Please tell me more about your love of pop culture, street styling, and elemental sportswear?

ABCH

I love sportswear, I am also a pilates instructor and personal trainer, so active clothing elements are always are part of my designs. I love styling. I have quite a knack for it and feel I can take the garments apart and reconstruct them in many different ways to achieve various looks. The street look is what I am aiming to promote through the label. Pop-culture icons have inspired me as I love the way an individual can champion a look and the two can become almost inseparable. 

LM

You describe your garments as ethical. What does this entail across the entire process of production?

ABCH

  • Minimise wastage in development and cutting. 
  • Engaging manufacturers that are legal, treat their workers fairly and don’t outsource without your knowledge – this is much easier to do if you live in the same country you manufacture in!
  • Treat your employees well and fairly, this includes your sub-contractors and your interns.
  • Don’t claim ignorance. It’s really hard to know where everything comes from, especially fabrics. Keep searching and investigating all that goes into your brand and make everyday improvements.

Model standing in an urban setting under a bridge dressed in the sports-luxe wear and technical fabric inspired by pop and internet culture, and elemental street styling.

LM

Do you love what you do?

ABCH

Yes.

LM

What advice would you give to emerging designers? I recently read an article which claimed fashion design is a ‘false dream’. What do you think?

ABCH

It’s hard to say without reading the article personally. Fashion can seem glamorous and all, but it’s really a hard slog. I think people realise that the hard way a lot of the time. If you go to a good university, they should prepare you for that. In saying that, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something or that it will never work. They might be right, but they might be wrong. Take all the feedback with a pinch of salt, and think critically of your own work. 

Model standing in an urban setting under a bridge dressed in the sports-luxe wear and technical fabric inspired by pop and internet culture, and elemental street styling.

LM

What do you envisage for the future of the Australian fashion industry?

ABCH

I envisage a return to local manufacturing and the revitalisation of our industry.

I’d love to see (or create) a hub for fashion designers to develop, grow and emerge into the world from the design studio space. A space which offered manufacturing, printing, knitting and dyeing capabilities and a place where designers are truly supported by the local government and media. 

LM

Where would you like to see yourself in five years from now?

ABCH

Running a financially lucrative business that is able to continue to pioneer new styles in menswear around the world while also supporting the local industry. Creating new jobs and helping to develop other emerging designers. 

LM

What are you most looking forward to in the showing of your collection at VAMFF?

ABCH

Hanging out with all the other amazing designers, seeing my clothes come down the catwalk for the first time and launching what will be our biggest year and collection yet!

LM

Go Courtney! Label Ministry will be there cheering you on! Check out Article. bch!

Accreditations:

Design & Styling| Courtney Holm | Facebook | Twitter| Instagram

Photography | Brooke Holm | Facebook | Instagram

Creative Direction | Graphic Design: Instagram 

HMUA | Chantal Lee |  Chantal Lee

Model | Tom Brennan | Instagram 

Pop Video Accreditations:

Design & Styling | Courtney Holm  

Shot, Cut & Directed by |  Noel Smyth 

Music | Marcus Hollands | Instagram

Talent | James Kremers (Scene) | Instagram

Hair and Makeup | Martell Hunt

Until next time,

Jade xx

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Australian Fashion Industry, Fashion Designer, Global Fashion Industry, Interview

ASSK

February 26
Autumn/Winter 2015. Asian model sitting in front a red vinyl sheet in a blue bomber jacket with writing across the back of the jacket. The model is being photographed in white mirrored sunglasses.

 

The fashion industry has changed dramatically over the past five years. Having an international presence is very important. Adhering to a strong brand vision.

Sarah Schofield

 

Autumn/Winter 2015 - Male model dressed in ASSK - black and white bomber jacket with matching pants standing in front of a red vinyl sheet. Street wear at it's best.

Photographer | Elliott Lauren
MUA/Hair | Holly Rose Butler
Models | Chadwicks

I am in the process of gearing myself up for Melbourne Fashion Week. During my usual reconnaissance of scouring interesting fashion food in the lead up, I was fascinated by the street label simply know as ASSK, and quite simply blown away by the photography surrounding their Autumn/Winter 2015 and Spring/Summer 2016 campaigns.

Of course my first question was how the name was birthed.

ASSK is an anagram of the designers initials. Sarah Schofield and Agatha Kowalewski. The girls have been living in Paris working in the fashion industry for a few years. Sarah was working at Louis Vuitton, and Agatha was working as a stylist when they started ASSK in 2013. Their business and studio are based there and they have press offices in Paris and in NY.

Both girls are originally from Australia, and Melbourne especially has remained really important to ASSK.

They sell through Distal Phalanx in Melbourne, and have a really strong base there.

They are really excited to be back home and showing in the Discovery Runway at VAMFF.

Their label has been heavily influenced by technology and internet culture.

The internet has always played a big part in the ASSK brand. Agatha and Sarah first connected on the internet and worked with Melbourne artist Oliver van der Lugt over the internet for two years before they met.

Their first four collections were sold via the internet over look books to people they didn’t know. In places they had never visited.

This interconnectivity through technology has been very important to them.

On the topic of inspiration, they are always interested in current pop culture and movements about the future. They are never interested in looking back at the past.

They are inspired by sub-cultures, and their new ability to form online. Once the emergence of sub-cultures was quite localised. Like the Punk movement in London. They now celebrate disparate individuals across the world meeting and connecting over shared interests and beliefs.

Interestingly, their garments are made in Poland close to Wroclaw. This is where Agatha’s family comes from.

They also make some sublimation garments in China. Although expensive, it serves a good purpose as it allows us to have access to top quality machinery. For their customer, this means “super detailed effects”.

I simply cannot wait to see what this label comes up with on the Runway at VAMFF. Any wonder these two girls are enjoying the sweet smell of success.

Enjoy xx

Jade

Autumn/Winter 2015 Campaign. Asian girl sitting in an ASSK sweater with black and white textured wall behind.

Photographer | Elliott Lauren
MUA/Hair | Holly Rose Butler
Models | Chadwicks

LM

Do you feel that art & fashion belong together on the Runway?

ASSK

Yes. I definitely believe that there are strong links between fashion and art on and off the runway.

I think that the more recent trend for designers to show in presentations rather than traditional runway gives a chance for people to be free and creative. To lean closer to an immersive experience or performance art.

LM

Do you believe that editorial or social media gives your label the most beneficial exposure?

ASSK

Editorial and social media are two very different things.

Editorial exposure can be quite hard to get. Often clothing goes out on a lot of shoots, but that doesn’t mean it will make it onto the model. Or that the image will be visible in a magazine. Hopefully, the stylist will let you know about the photo, but often it is represented in poor taste (like a caucasian model with cornrows) and you can’t publicise it.

But when it does come together and a beautiful image is featured in a great magazine, it’s awesome!

Traditional editorial press is still important to become known by top stylists, photographers and editors.

Social media is great for gaining new fans and having a direct line to them.

It allows the opportunity to strengthen the brands image and reach people all over the world with ease. It provides a way of knowing who buys the clothes and how they style them. Our fans are really creative and create a lot of great content for us – they tag us in everything!

LM

What is your view of the way young women dress today? Do you feel that some of them tend to dress the same?

ASSK

I think the way young people dress today is great, and while there is often local or global trends, I wouldn’t say that people dress the same.

Today there is more freedom than ever before for young people to be whoever they identify as and dress how they like.

I think that the internet has allowed more freedom as well. Connecting to different communities online makes us open to ideas and have access to different clothing.

We devoured issues of ‘The Face’ which were often months out of date by the time they reached Australia. now you have much more There is much greater access to visuals and clothing now.

LM

Would you describe your label as street style?

ASSK

Yes. We would identify as ‘street style’.  As the brand has developed it has become more ready-to-wear rather than just simple t-shirts and hoodies.

Autumn/Winter 2015 Male model standing in front of a black and white wall in a black bomber jacket and street wear pants.

Photographer | Elliott Lauren
MUA/Hair | Holly Rose Butler
Models | Chadwicks

LM

Do you think it is difficult for emerging designers to receive sponsorship opportunities?

ASSK

I don’t think so. I think there is a lot of opportunities for designers to look for sponsorship.  Many companies are excited by the ‘glamourous’ idea of being linked with young fashion brands.

Nothing is ever going to come easy as a young designer, but it is all about being creative and aligning yourself with companies which have similar goals.

LM

Do you believe that it is easier for emerging designers to achieve faster and greater success outside of Australia?

ASSK

No not at all. I think that it is definitely easier in some countries, such as England, with the support offered.

Australia also has its advantages. People see it as interesting and innovative. Australians are inventive problem solvers. It is a very easy and efficient place to start a small business.

Today with new ways of disseminating brand image and innovative ways of selling to international buyers, there is no reason why Australian brands can’t be as successful as designers based overseas.

Autumn/Winter 2015. Asian model sitting in front a red vinyl sheet in a blue bomber jacket with writing across the back of the jacket. The model is being photographed in white mirrored sunglasses.

Photographer | Elliott Lauren
MUA/Hair | Holly Rose Butler
Models | Chadwicks

LM

Why do you think it is so hard for emerging designers to get off the ground in Australia?

ASSK

I think that it is for two reasons.

Firstly, most of the emerging designers in Australia launch their brand on graduating university.

I think to increase your likely hood of success you first need to gain a good level of industry experience, strong industry connections and have a solid amount of money saved.

Secondly, I think that many people are following the same pattern that other older Australian designers have followed and failed with.

They graduate, launch a brand with little experience, have the overheads of a studio before selling anything, and they focus on the local market for years believing they need to make it here before trying overseas.

The fashion industry has changed dramatically over the past five years. Having an international presence is very important. Adhering to a strong brand vision.

Trying to flood a small commercial pool means the reliance on the strength of one market or one currency.

LM

Do you believe that the Runway is an essential tool to show a fashion collection?

ASSK

I believe that within the first two years a designer needs public presentation of their work. It doesn’t have to take the form of runway, but it is important for press and buyers. It is a way to solidify a vision through all the aspects … invitation to music to casting.

It often becomes a springboard for new ideas to continue with in the future.

Male Model standing in front of black doors in July 2016 in Paris.

Photography | Christelle de Castro
Models | Chadwicks

LM

What are your thoughts regarding ethical and sustainable practices?

ASSK

I think that brands should absolutely try and work within the highest ethical and sustainable practices, both in their production and in their everyday studio life.

LM

Where would you like to see your label in five years?

ASSK

We don’t know! We have had a great time and great success, but being a small brand is very hard. Especially because we never set out to have a brand, it was a creative project which snowballed in popularity and grew too quickly.

We are currently working on a plan to have better balance in the company. We need more time to be creative and less time wading through emails. Ideally the brand would become a more manageable collaborative project again, working with artists and creatives. We would release small capsule collections outside of the fashion calendar.

LM

Do you believe that the difficult times in Australian fashion can be solved by collaborative efforts to help one another?

ASSK

I believe that people working collaboratively is very important, not only for projects but in the sharing of information. It can be really hard to start out and nobody wants to be seen as struggling in a small competitive fashion industry.

Sometimes the most generous thing you can give is the truth.

LM

Do you think fashion industries outside of Australia enjoy more connectivity and a more cohesive culture?

ASSK

Not necessarily. I think that each industry and each country/city has its pros and cons.

London is great because of the support offered to young designers, but it’s living costs have become insane.

Paris has amazing fashion houses and history, but it is a very hard place to assimilate into and run a small business.

New York has an amazing young scene with artists and energy, but the work pace is intense and the city is still dominated by big commercial business.

Everywhere has its good and bad side. Australia has great advantages. People shouldn’t get bogged down by feeling that we are missing out.

Male model standing in an ASSK shirt from the 2016 campaign shoot in front of a red door.

Photography | Christelle de Castro
Models | Chadwicks

LM

Who are your favourite Australian and international fashion designers?

ASSK

In Australia I love Maticevski. He creates beautiful clothing and I admire his success.

Internationally, I love Raf Simons for Dior, especially the couture – I love almost all Haute Couture!

Agatha and I both love Vetements. We are friends with many of their collaborators and their energy has changed Paris. I feel ver hopeful for what Demna Gvasalia will now do at Balenciaga.

I also love Hood By Air. I would not buy any of their clothes however, I think what they have achieved is incredible. They started from nothing and have actually changed fashion and created a certain culture – not many designers can say that.

Their brand identity is so strong and individual. Their presentations are some of the best I have ever seen.

LM

What is your view of social media as a platform for the exposure of fashion?

ASSK

I think social media is great, it has definitely influenced the way that we communicate with people. Through Instagram we have a direct line with our fans and customers all over the world. We have made friends, met collaborators and connected with people, which would otherwise have been impossible with the old media.

LM

What do you believe is the impact of “fast fashion” on a label such as yours?

ASSK

I don’t know if fast fashion has an impact on our brand. We learnt early on that our customer likes individual pieces and the crazier the better!

We don’t need to worry about relying on selling basics, and our designs often have complicated prints and small details that you don’t find in mass-market clothing.

I think it’s really bad when mass-market blatantly rips off young designers. Their accelerated supply chain allows for quicker in-store product placement,  but I think customers are becoming more aware. The internet has made it possible to call-out ‘the copiers’.

We have had a few copies and there is counterfeit ASSK out there, but it’s not at the point where it affects our bottom line or brand image. We laugh it off and keep going.

Male model standing in front of black doors on blue vinyl sheeting in street wear t-shirt, shorts and timberland style boots.

Photography | Christelle de Castro
Models | Chadwicks

LM

What would you regard as the ultimate success for your label?

ASSK

The dream would be for ASSK to release several small capsule collections each year in collaboration with different artists and designers. To stay true to our ideals and creativity.

Our personal dreams are to have the time to return to our individual careers. Mine as a creative consultant for emerging brands, and working as a designer inside a luxury fashion house in Paris again. Agatha’s … working in the nutrition and fitness industry.

Love ASSK here.

ASSK clothing can be purchased in Australia at Distal Phalanx in Melbourne.

Can’t wait to see what these guys come up with at VAMFF 2016.

See you on Instagram!

Until next time,

Jade xx

Label Ministry logo which is a picture of a stylised coathanger

 

 

 

Accreditations:

Autumn/Winter 2015

Photography: Elliott Lauren

MUA/Hair: Holly Rose Butler

Models : Chadwicks (Prince, Karina and Andy)

Spring/Sumer 2016

Photography: Christelle de Castro

Models: Chadwicks (Malick and Dourane)

 

Australian Fashion Industry, Commentary, Interview

Lui Hon

April 8
Four models walking down the catwalk at the Lui Hon runway show in Melbourne in different coloured dresses.

The names given to my collections seem to happen in the moment of time […] I truly believe that everyone has a “little hero” inside of them.

My heart beats with excitement as I survey the beautifully serene space, lined with chairs upon sleek, dark floorboards. Streams of natural light pour in through side windows. The models have been carefully selected by virtue of both their beauty and their ability to “glide”. The space is ethereal – its long, expansive wings balanced effortlessly by a live musical performance by a woman named Ping. She plays an ancient Chinese instrument called a Gu Zheng, the sound of which literally transports me back to an ancient time. With a face of enigmatic calm, Ping plucks its eighteen strings with a pick made of the shell of a hawksbill turtle.

The space is the RMIT design hub in Melbourne’s Carlton.

The event – Open Endedness – Lui Hon Prive Show 2015/2016

The man behind it all – the incomparable Lui Hon.

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