Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Uniqlo: Melbourne's Newest Fashion Giant

The cult Japanese retailer opened its debut Australian store at Emporium Melbourne this morning – and there were lines around the block. 

I was lucky enough to be invited down to take a look at the store yesterday before it opened to the public. So many exciting new retailers are coming to Melbourne its hard to handle and Uniqlo is one of those fabulous internationals that is bound to shake up the local market.

Photo: Brook James

Ready or not, here they come. Emporium Melbourne’s official ribbon-cutting was scheduled for 9am this morning, but the anxious queues were already wrapped around the block well before. One of the most anticipated openings inside the new, seven-storey mega-mall is cult Japanese basics label, Uniqlo, with its debut Australian store.

Following its Swanston Street pop-up in January this year, the permanent store is the latest major foreign retailer to join a very rapidly growing party, following Zara, Topshop, A.P.C., H&M and Muji, to name a few.

When you walk beneath the glowing red sign into the brightly lit store, the first thing you notice are the meticulously colour-coordinated shelves, arranged by jeans, T-shirts, cashmere jumpers and the brand’s iconic ULD (ultra-light down) vests. Housed over four floors (that’s 2150 square metres of shopping space), Uniqlo’s range covers men, women and children. You’re truly spoilt for choice, with all key apparel items offered in a range of 24 colours.

If you have any hesitation or enquiry, you can bet on finding an eager Uniqlo employee by your side in seconds – there is 320 staff in Melbourne alone.

The store is spacious, light, and easy to navigate. Well-dressed brand ambassadors smile down at you from posters on the walls – Pharrell Williams, local street artist Rone, even chef Andrew McConnell.

With more than 1300 stores worldwide, this is the 16th market that Uniqlo will have a presence in globally. If you’ve been to a Uniqlo store anywhere else in the world – don’t expect a dramatic reinvention. It has found a formula that works, and judging by the jostling lines out the front, its Australian fans agree. 

Article: Broadsheet

Monday, March 24, 2014

VAMFF Wrap: National Graduate Showcase

Australia’s next crop of talented fashion designers showcased unusual and inspiring collections as Central Pier played host to the National Graduate Showcase last night.

Photo: Lucas Dawson

The National Graduate Showcase presented us with big ideas, innovative design and a whole lot of talent. From androgynous pieces to distinctly feminine collections, there was something to excite and surprise everyone in the crowd.
Molly Younger
Molly Younger’s collection kicked the show off with a statement – latex dresses and coats and gloves covered in cracked paint paired with leg warmers. Younger’s collection was eerie and sterile, sharing a strong resemblance to Maison Martin Margiela. Not for the faint-hearted.

In a word Unusual

Lillian Chan
Intricate laser-cut leather paired with silk layers, textured fabrics and woven details. Chan’s collection brought together beautiful textures and materials, creating dreamy, soft, girly silhouettes.

In a word Delicate

Photo: Lucas Dawson

Yan Wang
Yan Wang’s menswear collection was graphic and monochromatic, with boxy shapes and unusual details. Suits with structured, cubed collars, black-and-white check pants paired with zigzag shirts and 3D detailing were all very unexpected.

In a word Bold

Edwina Sinclair
Drawing inspiration from emoticons and pop art, Edwina Sinclair presented a range strong in colour and texture. With knitted onesies and matching hats, dresses resembling hospital gowns, colour blocking and an amazing ankle-length pastel pink coat.
In a word Colour

Roxane Chan
Pastel denim two-pieces, boxy shapes, raw edges, crop tops, overalls and tartan. Roxane Chan’s collection was fun in a ’90s-meets-today way, her standout number a cropped two-piece in mustard and denim check.

In a word ... ’90s

Photo: Lucas Dawson

Wing Chiang
A beautiful range of delicate floral dresses, shirts and jumpsuits. Chiang drew inspiration from daisies, using the flower consistently in her striking prints. Pastel greens, reds and blues were perfectly matched with silk layers and structured, yet feminine shapes.

In a word  Pretty

Photo: Laura Grogan

Juliette Booth
Juliette Booth’s striking designs were created to be worn by men and women – she removes the darts from her garments to create unisex pieces. The result is a really cool collection of oversized jumpers and hooded vests, in quilted, graphic fabrics, paired with baseball caps and tough, gold hardware.

In a word  Edgy

Chin Hau Tay
An unusual menswear collection of oversized, red-and-green tartan jumpers and jackets with fur detailing, plus a fitted, red-velvet suit. Parts of this collection resembled oversized teddy bears, a mixture of textures, fur and velvet, and one very large, fluffy, full-length red fur coat.

In a word Bizarre

Gabrielle Brown
A mesmerising collection of intricate layers and 3D printing, delicate silks and structured neoprene, perfectly put together to create a striking and hypnotic range. The standout piece was a white, neoprene bodysuit, featuring a 3D printed collar and a beautiful woven skirt. Gabrielle Brown is one to watch.
In a wordAttention to detail

Photo: Laura Grogan

Anne Marie Gruber
Inspired by the film Vertigo, Anne-Marie Gruber’s range included geometric-shaped tops, knitted hotpants and shift dresses. Very space-age, Gruber’s pieces used bold lines, shapes and textures with a monochromatic colour palette of greys, blues and greens.

In a word Original

Victoria Thaniotis
This range was full of bold colours and shapes with a focus on texture, such as needle-point felting and surface manipulation. The standout piece was a beautifully structured grey and orange backless dress, showcasing a strong eye for detail. Bold and innovative.

In a word Fearless

Tan Thanh Trieu
Inspired by architecture and the green on his Vietnamese passport, Tan Thanh Trieu presented a stunning, well-thought-out collection. Models dressed head to toe in long, textured, green silhouettes, with beautiful shapes and detailing such as fringed hats and voluminous fabric panels.

In a word Mesmerising 

Runway Takeaways

Expected? Show-stopping talent
Unexpected? Men’s jackets reminiscent of teddy bears
Highlight: Gabrielle Brown’s intricate detailing
Overheard Onlooker: “It’s high fashunn, darlink.”
Spotted A woman with a light-up tulle skirt and blue hair sitting front row

Photo: Laura Grogan

Source: Broadsheet

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Made with Love, Made in Africa

This is my most recent contribution to Miss Greens Wardrobe, check out the link for more ethical and sustainable fashion and lifestyle pieces.

There is no doubting that the world we live in is rapidly moving forward, as consumers and shoppers we demand more for less, we want it now and we are treating fashion as something that is disposable. With little thought as to the negative impact that it may be having on our world.

I myself, have far too many clothes, yet never seem to have anything to wear. When I think about it (which is something I prefer not to do, it’s easier to stay in denial about these things!) my consumption of fashion is very unnecessary and a little over the top at times. Although, since going back to uni I have had to massively slam on the breaks in regards to my overzealous purchasing behavior.

It can be hard, especially when on a budget, to buy pass the bargains that high street stores offer, I mean a pair of pants at Zara for $59? It’s a crime not to…right?  Yeah I may glance at the label and see they are made in Bangladesh but I honestly don’t give much thought to it, which is something we all need to change.

I am happy to admit that I am a bit of a fashion nerd, it’s something I love. I don’t just love it because it’s pretty, I love it because it makes me feel good about myself and it’s something that crosses language barriers and time zones. It is also something that is very influential. Many people often disregard fashion or those who are passionate about it as shallow and stupid. But this is far from the case, there are many savvy brains behind the most influential names in fashion and a few of these amazing people are trying to make a significant difference in the industry.

Most people would be aware of Stella McCartney, if not for what she has done for fashion at least for her famous Dad. McCartney is known in the fashion world for her stance on ethical and sustainable fashion. McCartney is one of the most significant designers to have taken a public stance on the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion. It wasn't until reading an article on McCartney in the October issue of Elle Australia that I realised the extent that McCartney goes to, to ensure that her brand is ethical and sustainable. There are no animal products used in her collections, soles on shoes are biodegradable, lingerie uses recycled metal hardware, 50 percent of the materials used in her eye wear range are from natural sources and organic cotton is used on her denim and jersey range.

She is also a partner with the International Trade Center’s Ethical Fashion Initiative. An initiative that includes the likes of Vivienne Westwood and those closer to home Sass and Bide. An initiative that brings together over 7,000 artisans whose skills are used to create beautiful pieces, which in turn gives these artisans jobs and helps to support their communities.

“We work with our fashion partners to develop products that are feasible, using the skills and materials available locally. Our business and production hubs in Nairobi, Accra and Port-au-Prince process orders, guaranteeing they will be delivered at high quality and on time, while complex organization ensures workflow to those in urban slums and disadvantaged rural areas right off the grid.” – Ethical Fashion Initiate.

With brands such as Sass and Bide supporting ethical and sustainable fashion, it makes it a little easier for the ones who can’t afford to dabble in Stella McCartney to support a wonderful cause. Sass and Bide have joined with women from the Kikuyu, Masai, Samburu & other East African tribes to create a limited edition collection of bags that utilize the wonderful skills of these artists along with supporting a wonderful cause. ‘Made withLove, Made in Africa’ features a handmade purse, clutch and tote bag each adorned with the beautiful handy work of the women in these African communities.

Things like this take time, it’s a matter of brands standing up and making a point of telling consumers they need to be more aware of where there products are coming from and the impact fashion has on the world. Knowledge is power and with brands like Stella McCartney and Sass and Bide supporting causes such as the Ethical Fashion Initiative they are informing consumers.

Most of us are already making massive changes with our food consumption, going free range, cruelty free and organic. It only makes sense that fashion follows.

Shop ‘Made with Love, Made in Africa’ HERE

For more information on the Ethical Fashion Initiative click HERE

* Since writing this piece Karen Walker has also released a line in conjunction with the Ethical Fashion Initiative, the line is called 'Visible'. Info on her contribution to the cause can be found  here.