A Melbourne-Based Made-To-Order Label Has Just Six Garments – Designed To Work Seamlessly With Your Existing Wardrobe

When Covid sent traditional retail into freefall and our need for extensive wardrobe options withered, something was ignited in Courtney McGregor, founder of made-to-order label Shé. “I realised that clothing had become overly complicated,” McGregor says, its breakneck turnover times “driving a constant need for validation”.

Many of us relished the idea of wearing the same clothes on repeat during lockdown; the stress of getting dressed was gone. McGregor set out to capture that feeling with a capsule of classic, flexible designs that allow the label to sidestep the industry’s endless trend-chasing cycles.

Anchored by an eco-conscious brand ethic, Shé garments are made to last. McGregor designs her clothes in her former childhood bedroom – a safe haven and Covid-safe distribution hub through the uncertainty of the pandemic. She then works closely with a Melbourne patternmaker and local seamstresses to realise her made-to-order model.

The local label sources premium dead-stock fabrics from around the world, from Italy to Japan. This end-of-line fabric is discarded from international design houses, and its limited availability ultimately determines the number of units Shé is able to produce. Every Shé garment is numbered, too, allowing McGregor to track the life cycle of the garment.

Capsule one launched earlier this year with just two pieces – the pintuck pant ($329) and ace shirt ($289). Made from a seafoam-coloured satin back crepe, both items have a subtle shine and drape beautifully against the body. Their relaxed look means they can be worn as a set or harmoniously with other items in your wardrobe. The long-line shirt’s exaggerated split cuffs and large side splits mean it can be styled up to five different ways.

Part two of the first capsule collection dropped last month. The new tailored bodice ($289), split-hem pant ($329) and miniskirt ($169) introduce a matte-green texture in a cotton-polyamide blend. Plus, a wrap skirt ($395) – adds a floaty, feminine look. Quantities are extremely limited, with just 12 wrap skirts, 30 bodices, 30 miniskirts, 30 fitted pants and 70 ace shirts and pintuck pants available.

“Shé provides a blank canvas,” says McGregor. “A 25-year-old young professional could be wearing the same outfit as a 60-year-old woman, both unapologetically bringing their own flair to the garment.”

shopshe.com.au

Written for Broadsheet

Studio Visit: Colourful African Wax Fabric Designs With Melbourne Label Ulo

Up the rickety stairs of the Sacred Heart building on the sprawling grounds of Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne, you’ll find a tiny studio and retail showroom brimming with colour. “It hits you like a tonne of bricks,” says Ulo founder and designer Dinzi Amobi-Sanderson. “What I’ve tried to do with the showroom is build a space which represents Africa – as if you’re going into the market,” she says.

Rolls of wax fabrics – from Ghana, Tanzania, Nigeria and Senegal – are stacked tall, and homewares such as cushions, lampshades and placemats decorate the space.

“Customers come in and they say, ‘Oh, I like this fabric’ then they turn around and say ‘No, no, this one.’ And that’s what it’s like growing up in Africa and shopping in the market. You just walk around [and] you love everything.”

Amobi-Sanderson was born in London. She moved to Nigeria as a child and lived there until she was nine. She later moved back to the UK to study law. Then, six years ago, she moved to Australia to pursue a career as a lawyer, spending her evenings designing clothes with fabrics her friends and family would send from back home.

“I guess the dream is to be able to showcase all the different textiles in the African region,” Amobi-Sanderson says. Ulo uses African wax prints, also known as Ankara and Dutch wax prints. The colourful cotton cloths are produced with batik-inspired printing (an Indonesian technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to the whole cloth). The result is equal colour intensity on the front and back of each piece.

“A lot of these fabrics carry traditional African stories, and myths and fables are incorporated into the designs,” she says. They’re vibrant, colourful and really, really beautiful to work with. They’re [also] very limited in quantity.”

The designer sources her materials directly from African fabric vendors, who only ever carry very limited quantities of each pattern. “We thought [it] was a bit of a challenge at first because how do you create clothing or collections with one or two pieces of fabric? But it’s actually been a wonderful part of our business.”

Ulo means “home” in Igbo – one of the African dialects spoken in southern Nigeria. The designer says the blue record print symbolises the joy of African communities that love music and celebration. The Fleurs de Mariage print’s name comes from the Ivory Coast; it’s a vibrant depiction of the marriage flower. “Our vendor in Ghana, he actually wore this fabric for his wedding ceremony,” Amobi-Sanderson says. “And for me that was such an I-have-to-have-that-in-my-collection [moment], not only because it’s such a beautiful, vibrant colour, fabric and pattern, but also because it was a way for me to start telling the stories of some of the vendors that we work with in Africa.”

Patterns are carefully considered for each garment. “For example, with a dress you want to use a really big bold pattern because you can showcase that better in the design. [For] pants, you may go for more intimate, subtle, intricate patterns.”

Amobi-Sanderson designs every collection, working alongside a small production team that works on a made-to-order model. “It’s not about a seasonal collection. It’s creating pieces that people are going to wear for years and years to come.”

Since the pandemic began, Ulo’s production has taken place off-site. But the retail space at Abbotsford Convent continues to be the beating heart of the company. “It’s a welcoming space. It’s warm. It’s small. But it’s a good space to start.”

uloaustralia.com
@uloaustralia

Written for Broadsheet

Australian Puffer Jacket Label Toast Society (Made With Vegan Down) Is Inspired by Tokyo’s Vibrant Street Fashion

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Puffer jackets. They’re practical, sporty, stylish – and best of all they keep you warm. But are you aware of the cruelty often involved with stuffing them? In most cases, the staple jackets are stuffed with down –feathers found closest to a bird’s skin. Feathers are often plucked when the bird is alive, causing skin injuries, until they grow back and can be plucked again.

To combat this, Uniqlo has launched The Down Recycling Project – an effort to recycle down and feathers you already own into new garments. All of the down and feather in this range comes from 620,000 down jackets collected from customers so far. Garments are given new life as winter staples that are both comfortable and kind to the environment.

But Toast Society – an Adelaide-based outerwear label – is going one step further. It uses vegan down to fill its bright, pastel-coloured coats. Vegan down is a cruelty-free alternative to goose or duck feather down. It’s made from 100 per cent polyester and will keep you dry and warm, even in wet conditions.

Toast’s designs are inspired by the fun, rule-breaking street fashion of Tokyo. “We love the playful approach to colour – the layered looks; voluminous bold, statement pieces; and bright colourful make-up,” says Georgie Babyska, who is a co-founder of the label with her sister Alex. Toast also offers cropped cuts, statement collars and jackets with oversized pockets and hoods.

Launching one collection a year, Toast focuses on durable fabrics and designs that won’t date. Garments are designed in Adelaide, but produced in a factory offshore. This year’s Orbit collection is all about colour.

“Yellow, in particular, was a must for us this season,” Alex says. “It’s energising, bright and enlightening. If we can’t always enjoy the outdoors and the sun, we thought, ‘Why not wear it?’” The polyester outer-shell is available in buttery-soft gloss and metallic finishes in colours such as teal, khaki, raspberry, sea mist, cinnamon, ivory and black. They’re water-repellent and wind resistant.

“We wanted to offer more adaptable and seasonless styles,” says Georgie. “The Elara bolero jackets, and Cali hoodies are the perfect transeasonal pieces.” With a cropped silhouette, the Elara bolero can sit above a pair of jeans or add layers to a longline knit dress. And you can unzip the Cali hoodies in the warmer weather to expose your back and shoulders.

And its name? “Toast represents the feeling you get wearing our puffers,” Alex says. “Warm, comforting, a staple. It’s also easy to say, spell, remember – and most importantly – who doesn’t love toast?”

toastsociety.com

Now Open: A Bigger, Bright-Yellow New Home for The Social Studio in Multi-Level Arts Hub Collingwood Yards

Not-for-profit social enterprise The Social Studio – which operates as a fashion school, clothing label, retail shop, digital-textile print studio, clothing manufacturer and community space – has supported young people from new migrant and refugee communities since opening on Smith Street, Collingwood in 2009.

“All of the work that we do feeds back into the school and supporting the students there,” CEO Dewi Cooke tells Broadsheet. Over the past decade, The Social Studio has given hundreds of young people practical experience through its free training programs in clothing production, as well as mentoring and traineeships.

But after 12 years, the team has upsized – it moved into a bigger and brighter space in new multi-level arts hub Collingwood Yards in December. The 6500-square-metre development, which is bordered by Johnston, Wellington and Perry streets, has been transformed from a long-vacant school building into a creative hub. Other tenants include contemporary galleries West Space and Bus Projects; boutique publisher Uro; Bad Apples, the record label founded by Indigenous rapper Briggs; PBS FM; and the state’s peak body for contemporary music, Music Victoria.

“If we hadn’t had [this] opportunity … it would be very hard to know how we would continue to offer training in the way we had been, because it was such a small space,” Cooke explains. “And how we could have done that in a Covid-safe way would have been a real challenge.”

The new space is a collaborative effort from creatives within The Social Studio’s orbit. David Goss from Collingwood architecture firm Studio Goss provided pro bono advice on the design. “It’s a real graduation from the Smith Street [store], which had its own charm. It was something that was put together with a great deal of love and it was running on the smell of an oily rag,” Cooke says. The shop is flooded with natural light and has bright-yellow accents splashed throughout – including on the statement curved counter.

There’s a newly launched e-commerce site too, which is designed to be a hub for Black, Indigenous and culturally diverse creatives, just like this store. Some of the labels include Bananalands, a venture by Quandamooka man Nathan Leitch; Gammin Threads, which produces t-shirts and jumpers that promote Blak and female empowerment; and Melbourne-based clothing label Remuse, founded by New York-born designer and stylist Tamara Leacock. The Social Studio’s own label, which is made from upcycled fabrics (often dead stock from major fashion retailers), can also be purchased in-store.

Besides clothing, you’ll also find homewares: there are beautiful handwoven baskets made from washed-up fishing nets by Numbulwar Numburindi Arts, and colorful tableware by Elnaz Ceramics.

But The Social Studio aims to be more than just a transactional place. “If [makers of the labels stocked in-store] need to host an event, we could turn it into a space for them quite quickly,” Cooke says. “We’re encouraging them to think about our shop as an extension of their business. We want to make it a place where, as a consumer, you come in and you learn something about some of the retailers.

The Social Studio
Unit 101, 30 Perry Street, Collingwood

Hours:
Wed to Sat 11.30am–5pm

thesocialstudio.org

Written for Broadsheet

Brisbane’s Bianca Mavrick Jewellery Crafts Costume and Statement Jewellery With Everyday Wearability

When Brisbane-based jewellery designer Bianca Mavrick was little, she loved playing dress-ups with her nonna’s ’80s costume jewellery. “She had a box of broken pieces she’d surrender to me and I would repair them or reassemble the pieces into new jewellery,” she says.

Mavrick went on to study industrial design at QUT, but took night classes to learn gold and silversmithing techniques such as lost-wax casting. “I was more excited about these classes than my industrial design subjects [so] I eventually went on to study a fine arts degree where I could major in jewellery and small objects at Queensland College of Art [QCA],” she says.

Her eponymous label launched in 2013 with contemporary jewellery and small sculptures for exhibitions, and Mavrick would often sell one-off pieces in gallery stores. Over time, stores began placing wholesale orders, which led to more co-hesive seasonal collections that she could produce in small production runs. “My label became known for artful statement earrings – colourful, abstracted motif designs made from enamel metals, sterling silver and hand-poured marbled res-ins,” she says.From the Broadsheet video network     https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.433.2_en.html#goog_1729420262English geslecteerd als ondertitelingstaal360p geselecteerd als afspeelkwaliteitpowered by AdSparc

Her latest collection, Light Catcher, takes the form of costume jewellery with a sense of everyday wearability. “I love energetic, offbeat and unexpected colour palettes,” she says. It’s made from Italian cellulose acetate (a non-petroleum-based bioplastic made from cellulose fibre) – the same material used to make glasses frames.

“Before I designed this collection, I had experienced a period of feeling burnt out,” she says. “I was looking to find joy in designing jewellery again … so design-ing a collection focused on colour, light and optimism was definitely timely and cathartic.”

The Chain Link necklaces ($150) and brace-lets ($60) catch and bend light through the glossy, trans-lucent links. They have an industrial, functional feel, with minimalist design achieved through the clever hook clasp feature. (The clasp is designed to hook onto every link to make the pieces customisable.) Pair them with a simple white tee and jeans, or try styling them in playful ways with prints to create a bolder look.

The Splice Colour Chain ($180) is a two-tone 90-centimetre version that can be wrapped twice around the neck or once around the waist as a belt with a shirt dress. Colour-coated carabiner clips ($20) in a range of shades – including mint green and lilac – add a sense of utility to the necklaces. “I’m calling it: statement necklaces are coming back after it being all about earrings for so long,” Mavrick says, laughing.

Design and production mostly happen in Mavrick’s Brisbane studio. She also works with Brisbane manufacturers who put colour coatings on the metal com-ponents. The cellulose acetate components are produced by a small family-run factory in Italy.https://dd72ccfbb8eed13315159c60ed806305.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Mavrick’s process came full circle in early 2020 (pre-Covid) when her nonna would come into the studio to help with production. “I still really enjoy hand-crafting the jewellery, and by doing this in-house we can produce small batches as demand requires. This means I’m able to control our production and stock levels to minimise waste, and there’s no excess or dead stock at the end of each season.”

biancamavrick.com

Written for Broadsheet

Show-Stopping: Has the Pandemic Changed the Australian Fashion Industry Forever?

Written for Broadsheet

In the past decade, many aspects of the fashion industry have gone digital, including retail and publishing. But one thing that has endured IRL – and has remained crucial to how business is done – is the fashion week, which occurs in multiple cities around the world biannually.

Labels have relied on these spectacles – traditionally separated into spring/summer and fall/winter events (increasingly with resort and pre-fall collections in between) – to debut collections, while buyers and editors use them to order retail ranges and pinpoint trends. It’s become a merry-go-round of sorts: design, showcase, shop, repeat.

But when the pandemic hit earlier this year, the fashion industry – and the concept of the fashion week – radically changed.

Changing tack

In February, as editors and buyers gathered for Milan Fashion Week, the coronavirus was peaking in Wuhan. At Paris Fashion Week later that month, audience numbers dwindled, a number of labels withdrew collections or cancelled shows, and face masks were the trending accessory. By mid-March, as Melbourne Fashion Festival was drawing to a close, local coronavirus cases were growing and the festival was cut short.

The closure of retail stores and cancellation of wholesale orders that followed left many local designers with empty shops and warehouses full of stock. In those first few weeks, Richard Poulson – co-founder of Australian fashion label Morrison and CEO of new shopping platform Showroom-X – teamed up with the Australian Fashion Council to launch We Wear Australian, a campaign to draw attention to brands impacted by the pandemic. During the three-week campaign, local designers offered special deals and discounts to drive traffic to their websites.

Along with the lockdown that led to the closure of bricks-and-mortar, the industry was forced to adapt to social-distancing restrictions and travel bans. It was only in January this year – before the pandemic had spread across the globe – that Vogue Italia opted for an entirely illustrated issue to demonstrate the environmental impact of photoshoots. Who knew just months later most of those trappings – air travel; generators for electricity in remote, glamorous locales; catering for teams of stylists, photographers and models – would be impossible anyway due to a pandemic?

While many cultural events around the world were cancelled, some, including international film festivals (such as MIFF); Tomorrowland; and Melbourne Food & Wine Festival headed online. The fashion industry followed suit.

In June, London Fashion Week was the first of the four fashion capitals to replace physical shows with online programming. Consumers could explore virtual galleries (along with short films, podcasts and playlists), with participation from some of the world’s most esteemed labels, including Burberry and Victoria Beckham. Other designers, including Yves Saint Laurent, Dries Van Noten and Michael Kors, decided to delay presentation until later in the year.

Finnish design house Marimekko presented its pre-spring ’21 collection digitally at Copenhagen Fashion Week in August. “[It] offers the perfect opportunity to launch Marimekko’s 70th anniversary-year celebrations together with our community,” president and CEO Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko said in a statement. “In these unprecedented times, it is important to find new ways to inspire consumers as well as industry professionals, and we are happy to take part in one of the forerunning international fashion events in the world.” The digital presentation was set in the brand’s textile-printing factory in Helsinki, where more than one million metres of fabric are printed every year.

The Australian approach

Closer to home, the Australian Fashion Council joined forces with global B2B virtual-showroom platform Ordre to allow Australian designers to connect directly with buyers. In these virtual showrooms, buyers can review collections; place wholesale orders online; access designers’ virtual showrooms (including CommasPE Nation and Third Form); and view product information and a range of photos and videos.

Since the pandemic began, many local labels – including ArnsdorfE NolanObusWhite StoryKloke and The Social Studio – have added face masks to their ranges. Others are using the downtime to make more permanent changes to how they do business.

Sydney-based jewellery designer and sculptor Holly Ryan says she’s used this period to rethink the hyper-seasonal approach to design. (She also opened a new studio and workshop in Sydney.) “That means moving away from a fast-paced fashion calendar and trend cycle to focus instead on a seasonless model,” she tells Broadsheet. “We’ll release new pieces only when they’re ready, and will continue to offer pre-order on more bespoke items, so that we can keep waste to a minimum.”

Aje co-founder Adrian Norris has used the break to ensure the brand’s digital presence is up to scratch. “In May, we [relaunched] our e-commerce platform. [And] in July, we opened a new flagship location in Sydney’s Bondi Junction. Bricks-and-mortar remains an anchor of the Aje personal experience,” he says. The label also opened a store in Parramatta in November.

Not following the seasons

Sisters Cheryl, Vanessa and Gabrielle Manning – founders of Sydney-based womenswear label Manning Cartell – hope their shift towards a seasonless model will be part of a broader trend in the industry.

“Saying ‘no to the fashion calendar’ means that we are able to present you with inspiring pieces that are relevant to the world’s weather patterns. Pieces that you will want to wear,” they said in a statement on Instagram. “At Manning Cartell we have always focused on an ethical approach to doing business, it’s part of our DNA. So now, to build on our ethical foundation, to reduce waste and the speed of fashion, and to make what we present to you more relevant, we will no longer be following the fashion calendar.”

The pandemic forced a reckoning for Melbourne-based womenswear label Kuwaii, which was also caught up in the production grind, with runs slowly increasing every season. The team returned to a smaller, less wasteful production process, incorporating the use of dead-stock fabrics and its own remnant fabrics.

For emerging labels that don’t yet have brand recognition, there are added challenges. Liandra Gaykamangu is a Yolngu woman from north-east Arnhem Land and the founder of swimwear label Liandra Swim, which was set to showcase at this year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. The label was also nominated in two categories at the inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards, announced on August 5.

“The cancellation of Fashion Week was very disappointing,” Gaykamangu says. “We’re a small label, so it was very exciting when there was an opportunity for Liandra Swim to be a part of such an iconic Australian fashion event.”

Although Covid-19 has caused shipping delays, it’s added depth to the label’s commitment to slow fashion. “Liandra Swim only ever creates a limited number of pieces for any one collection. We aren’t looking to oversaturate the market, and when we sell out, we don’t restock either,” she says. “Instead of your package arriving in three days it’s now taking up to 10 days to arrive. I think the wider community is growing a deeper appreciation on how clothes are actually made and what issues designers are facing.”

French-Australian couture designer Delphine Genin has responded to the pandemic creatively, launching a series of couture embroidery classes online. She studied at the prestigious, Chanel-owned embroidery school Ecole Lesage in Paris, where she mastered the intricate Luneville style (she’s said to be the only designer in Australia to specialise in this particular style). The classes include access to 60 minutes of easy step-by-step videos; 25 hours of individual embroidery work; and a starter kit that includes a technical drawing, printed silk organza, silk and metallic threads, Swarovski crystals and a full embroidery set to complete your design.

Rocky times ahead

But despite the fashion industry’s scaled-back production and embrace of digital business models, the pandemic has proved the final nail in the coffin for many businesses already suffering from mismanagement and financial pressures.

One of Australia’s largest swimwear brands, Seafolly, entered voluntary administration in June, as did Sydney fashion retailer Tuchuzy.

This week, after 17 years, Aussie designer Alice McCall, founder of the eponymous label, appointed administrators. “I have had to make a necessary decision to edit down my business, with the objective of building a more sustainable business model for the future,” she said in a statement.

A couple of weeks ago she told Broadsheet that the pandemic had forced the industry to leverage digital opportunities and tools in order to grow. “I’m focusing on [growing] the consumer database and digital revenue, whether it be through social media, digital-marketing content or the e-commerce platform.” In June, she also offered an exclusive digital pre-order for her resort ’21 collection, and this week launched a collaboration with Cotton On.

And it’s not just designers having an impact on the industry. With Australia’s second-largest airline, Virgin Australia, going into voluntary administration, it has had flow-on effects, leaving Melbourne Fashion Festival without an official sponsor.

So what next

So, will the traditional fashion week still have a place in a post-pandemic world? Paris, New York, London and Milan all resumed physical shows for the spring/summer ’21 season in September, with the majority of audiences watching via livestream. And Australian Fashion Week is set to return for its 25th year in June 2021, with Afterpay sponsoring the event for the first time. The new sponsor has waived fees for participating designers, in a nod to the challenges they’ve faced this year, and the shows will be more consumer-friendly, with tickets available for several select shows and consumer events each night.

For Australian designers and consumers, the flow-on effects of the pandemic (travel bans, local and international lockdowns, and shipping delays) have been a reminder of the importance of being able to manufacture goods locally.

In January, Roy Morgan research found 88 per cent of Australians were more likely to buy products made in Australia. Since the pandemic, more than half of Australians (52 per cent) say they now have an even higher preference for Australian-made products. Monthly applications for the Australian Made logo have increased by 400 per cent since JanuaryJasmine & Will’s leisurewear range, released in July, is just one collection bearing the logo.

“Our biggest barrier for producing locally is the exorbitant cost to do it. And unfortunately, with sleepwear, there is a barrier to how much people are willing to pay. The cost for us here is about five times the cost of producing overseas. So, to pass that on to the consumer is pretty difficult, which means we eat at our own margin – but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” founder Jasmine Lindsay told Broadsheet in September.

In a recent survey by Australia Post 30 per cent of respondents said they’re making an effort to buy more Australian-made products than they did previously, while 23 per cent of shoppers said they’re more conscious about buying from businesses in their local areas.

The We Wear Australian campaign generated $3 million in revenue for the 140 participating brands. Other similar initiatives have also been established during this time, including Click for VicBuy from the Bush (launched as a result of the devastating effects of the bushfires) and Empty Esky (an initiative for Victoria’s regional hospitality industry).

“I hope it has brought about more local awareness for the consumer, and that they will invest in homegrown brands and companies first and foremost,” Aje’s Norris says.

Handbag and Leather Goods Designer Katya Komarova Opens a Cosy Adelaide Studio

Russian-born handbag designer Katya Komarova didn’t plan for a career in design. She graduated from Moscow State University of Culture and Arts with a degree in acting before becoming a model. But after a chance encounter with a local artisan on a trip to Thailand in 2010 – who taught her how to make a leather bracelet – she decided on a career change.

Komarova followed her passion, studying handbag design at Accademia Riaci in Florence. By the time she moved to Australia in 2013, her handbag label ByMosquito was already well-established.

“When I moved to Australia, I realised that the business model – and the bags that I was making back in Russia – wouldn’t perform as well [here],” she says. So she launched a new, eponymous label in 2014 specialising in minimalist leather goods.

“What it was back then [compared to] what it is now is a completely different story,” Komarova says. “I’m very proud of what it was, but we were producing in China, now we’re producing in Australia. We’re using refined Italian vegetable-tanned leather.”

During lockdown, Komarova and her husband decided to move back to their home in the Adelaide Hills after a stint in Sydney, which meant saying goodbye to her studio in Surry Hills. “Since moving here, the business has been actually doing pretty well considering the crisis and everything,” she says. “I started growing my team and I couldn’t work from home [anymore], and I started looking for space to work together.”

And so, in early October, Komarova opened her studio in Adelaide’s heritage Epworth Building. One corner of the cosy space is dedicated to assembling bags, the rest is made up of display shelves and mirrors. The walls have a fresh lick of white paint, in perfect contrast to the dark, hardwood floorboards. In keeping with the label’s use of natural materials, the furniture is made of rattan and leather, and the room is adorned with dried plants and flowers.

A solid-wood work bench is one of Komarova’s most treasured items in the space. “My husband found it on Gumtree a few years ago. We were living in Sydney and we took our car – which wasn’t a big car – so we had to put it into pieces,” she explains. “The guy especially made it for me, because he knew I was going to bang quite heavily with a hammer on the bench. And from Sydney we brought it here to Adelaide. And then I moved back to Sydney. It’s been moved a lot. It cost me like $80 – I spent much more moving it around,” she says, laughing.

Leather comes from an Adelaide supplier, who sources it from Italy. “We produce on demand. So, business-wise, it makes it more sustainable and healthier for us just to buy as we go from local [suppliers],” she says. The supplier laser-cuts the leather, which is then assembled by her team in the studio. A Japanese press that Komarova recently purchased sits atop the sturdy wooden bench. It works by piercing studs into the leather – a means of constructing the bags without stitching.

Many Katya Komarova bags are takes on classic styles – the bucket bag and shoulder bag are each available in black, brown and tan. Sizes range from the tiny mini mono to the oversized shoulder bag. Straps and handles (in materials such as leather, fur, chunky chains and woven handles) can be purchased separately to create new looks.

Katya Komarova bags have been snapped in street-style shots at international fashion weeks and have appeared in global fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. “It’s amazing how from a teeny-tiny brand it has become such … I can’t call it a sensation, it’s not a sensation yet, but it’s getting there,” Komarova says.

Katya Komarova
304/33 Pirie Street, Adelaide
Hours
Tue to Thu 10am–4pm
or by appointment (email info@katyakomarova.com)

katyakomarova.com

Written for Broadsheet

Sleeping With Jacques, the Melbourne Sleepwear Label Blurring the Line Between Bedroom and Bar

As a time-poor, sleep-deprived mum, Melburnian Jacqui Hoang dreamed of creating something that made her feel good, felt comfortable to lounge in all day and was stylish enough to wear out. “Naturally I thought of designing luxury pyjamas,” she says. That was 2017. Fast forward three years and throw a pandemic in the mix, and it’s safe to say the gamble paid off.

Sleeping with Jacques was founded with a focus on classic designs, made to last. “I didn’t want to be another trend-driven label that adds to landfill,” Hoang explains. Pieces can be worn together or styled separately, creating a polished yet comfortable look.

Hoang’s latest collection, Rise, is a feminine approach to power-dressing, experimenting with masculine energy in softer shapes. The label’s popular velvet power suits are reinvented in looser silk satins; the clean lines and lace inserts of the night dresses accentuate a woman’s natural curves. “There is power-dressing in looking feminine also; [it’s] not just reserved for suits,” she says.

The Bon Vivant silk velvet robe set is one of the label’s signature styles and has been worn by the likes of Cindy Crawford, Shanina Shaik and Kelly Rowland. The latest iteration is available in lilac velvet with classic black piping.

The Osiris dress in navy has launched exclusively at Net-a-Porter. It’s cut from lightweight, plissé crepe de Chine silk, making it comfortable to sleep in. The lace trimming and plunging waist and neckline also make it an effortless dress for a night out – just add heels.

Hoang says the chocolate Freudian slip dress is one of her spring wardrobe staples. The silk-satin maxi dress is made from Oeko-Tex-certified material, which means the fabric is free from chemicals that are hazardous or potentially harmful to the human body. It channels the ’90s skin-baring style with a deep-plunge neckline and an open back with slim crossover straps.

Sleeping With Jacques silk is sourced from China. “Our production utilises two dedicated Oeko-Tex-approved silk farms, where the silkworms feed on organic mulberry leaves,” Hoang says. “Recycled water is used to boil the cocoons; each strand is then carefully unwound onto reels.”

Hoang says the new collection is aimed at encouraging and celebrating women in their time of rest. “I started Sleeping With Jacques because, as a woman, my whole life I have felt the pressures of being a woman. Wax your eyebrows this way, wax your bikini this way, now wax it all off, now laser it off permanently,” she says.

“Wear your jeans low but no muffin top or camel toe … I have endured every trend and listened obediently. I’m a mum. A single mum. Pushing 40. I wanted to start a brand that championed women. And my way of doing that is by starting at home. Telling yourself you deserve these luxury silk pyjamas, you deserve to be comfortable and you deserve to feel good. And you don’t need to impress anyone but you.”

Sleeping with Jacques’ Rise collection is available online and via local and international stockists Net-a-Porter and Tuchuzy.

Written for Broadsheet

Five to Try: Unisex Tracksuit Collections by Australian Labels

Written for Broadsheet

It’s a good time to be a leisurewear label. When the pandemic hit, office attire was out and comfortable-cool came flying back in. And while existing loungewear labels have capitalised on the switch to comfy clothes, others have adjusted to cater to work-from-home life.

Oversized hoodies, tapered pants, crew-neck sweaters: tracksuits, in all their fleecy glory, blur the boundaries between menswear and womenswear.

Here are five Australian labels (and an international one) bridging the gap between his and hers collections.

PE Nation
Sydney-based athleisure brand PE Nation released its first unisex collection, Uni-form, in August. The range includes hoodies, mid-length shorts ($119) and tapered trackpants ($159) in oversized, structured fits. They’re made from mid-weight, organic French terry that’s been dyed and washed back for a worn-in look and feel.

The tees ($99) and tanks ($89) are cut from a breathable, sustainable organic cotton and hemp blend. The colour palette includes a punchy purple, khaki, and black and grey neutrals. Co-founder Pip Edwards says the company aims to level the athleisure playing field by bringing fashionable, functional garments to all kinds of people.

PE Nation’s Uni-form collection is available online now. Hoodies are currently sold out but will be restocked soon.

P Johnson
Patrick Johnson’s eponymous menswear label, P Johnson Tailors, is known for its uniquely Australian suiting. Since launching in 2009, the Sydney label has introduced knitwear, leisurewear (think drawstring trousers, utility vests and tees) and accessories to its made-to-measure collection. And last year it launched a womenswear range, Femme.

The latest addition is a new line of unisex sweats in grey or navy. You can mix and match the tracksuit pants ($275) with a crew-neck sweater ($265) or hoodie ($275), or buy each individually. The pieces are made in Canada with a medium-weight French cotton terry that will get better with age, and each item is finished in Sydney with an embroidered P Johnson logo.

Sir the Label
Bondi-born Sir the Label launched in 2014 with an Instagram-only capsule collection. Since then, it’s been picked up by luxury department store Barneys New York, and its locally designed, ready-to-wear pieces have attracted a strong global fan base. Now, Sir makes its first foray into menswear with the launch of a unisex sweats collection.

The garments are made from 100 per cent cotton with a soft fleece lining and come in three colourways: marle, ivory and black. Each style is available in women’s ($200), men’s ($180) and unisex ($180) styles. Tees and track shorts are also available. Styles can be shopped individually or in two- ($340), three- or five-piece edits ($720), with discounted prices for bundles.

Sir’s sweats collection is available online now. The three-piece edit is currently sold out.

Viktoria & Woods
Melbourne’s Viktoria & Woods was established in 2004 by founder and creative director Margie Woods. The mission? To create effortless wardrobe staples with a pared-back, modern feel.

Now, some 16 years on, the label launches a range of monochromatic lounge sets in slouchy silhouettes. Each piece is knitted and made in Melbourne from 100 per cent cotton fleece and terry cotton. The collection includes oversized hoodies ($220), crew-neck sweaters ($220), trackpants ($200) and tees, all featuring the iconic Viktoria & Woods anniversary print and Woods logo.

Viktoria & Woods’ Unisex 1.0 collection is available online now.

Best Jumpers
Designer Dylan Best has worked in menswear design at Ralph Lauren and Club Monaco in New York, where he also attended Parsons School of Fashion. He launched Melbourne’s Best Jumpers in 2018, on his return to Australia, with a core collection of off-duty hoodies and sweatpants.

The latest collection features classic unisex sweats in luxe Japanese cotton terry and fleece with multi-coloured wombat prints, or simply the word “mate” ($215). Tie-dyed sweaters ($145) are made and garment dyed in Melbourne. Each piece is constructed with 100 per cent cotton pique (polo shirt material). The sweat pants are made with 100 per cent cotton and come in charcoal ($165), navy ($255) and indigo ($209).

Best Jumpers’ new collection is available online now. It’s also located at 59 Izett Street, Prahran, but the store is currently closed due to Melbourne’s stage-four lockdown.

Pangaia
Ethical label Pangaia launched in 2018 with a commitment to a zero-waste circular system that works with upcycled and recycled materials. Its core collection of everyday wardrobe staples are made from bio-based and post-consumer recycled materials and plastic bottles.

The Seven Pop Colors collection is a range of hoodiestrackpantssweat shirtsshortstees and tanks in a fabric similar to French terry, made from a recycled organic cotton mix.

Each is available in one of seven colours, including saffron yellow, persimmon orange, orchid purple, flamingo pink, celestial blue, cobalt blue and jade green. Prices range from $50 USD for tanks to $150 USD for hoodies. Environmentally friendly dyes and a recycled water system are used to create the vibrant colours. The collection is available for the whole family, with unisex pieces for men and women, and mini-sizes for kids.

Pangaia’s Seven Pop Colors collection is available online now.

PE Nation Releases Its First Unisex Range

Written for Broadsheet

Sydney-based athleisure brand PE Nation has just released its first unisex collection, Uni-form. Co-founder Pip Edwards says the company is aiming to level the athleisure playing field with the range by bringing fashionable, functional garments to all kinds of people.

The collection was designed with “unity” in mind, says Edwards – thus the name. “We welcome teens, we welcome men, we welcome all who want to be comfortable yet fashionable, and who support sustainable pursuits.”

While Edwards says men have long worn PE Nation gear by purchasing womenswear in larger sizes, this is the first official unisex collection, and new garments and iterations will be added in future. “Athleisure has always been our game. We have always offered sweats, tracksuits and hoodies from the launch of our first collection,” she says, but adds that if you add a pandemic in the mix, the global need for comfort is amplified.

Right now the range includes hoodies, mid-length shorts and tapered trackpants in oversized, structured fits. They’re made from mid-weight organic French terry that’s been dyed and washed back for a worn-in look and feel. The tees and tanks are cut from a breathable, sustainable organic cotton and hemp blend. The colour palette includes a punchy purple, khaki, and black and grey neutrals.

“When designing this collection, it was important that we were giving people a product to build on their day-to-day wardrobes,” co-founder Claire Tregoning says.

To launch the collection, the co-founders assembled a group of industry leaders, musicians, athletes and family members – including Aussie soccer-player Oliver Bozanic, comedian Ash Williams, influencer Ally May Carey, Ironman Louis Kendrick, and Connie Mitchell and Angus McDonald from Sneaky Sound System – for a sophisticated editorial-style photo shoot on a grandstand.

PE Nation’s Uni-form collection is available online now. Hoodies and trackpants are currently sold out but will be restocked soon.

pe-nation.com