You have worked as a buyer and manager in the local fashion industry, at iconic Brisbane stores like Jean Brown, for several years. Recently you have transitioned into a freelance role, establishing your own fashion consultancy business. Your work in these roles gives you an intimate and well-rounded understanding of high-fashion consumption in Queensland. Do Queenslanders have a taste for luxury fashion? Is this about following international high-end brands, or do Queensland consumers have their own particular take on luxury?
The world is so small these days that people are quickly educated on luxury, trends, and fashion in general. We can see walking through the City or fashion strips such as James Street, that Brisbane is eating up designer wears and luxury goods. Only recently have we seen a huge influx of luxury stores open their doors and there are some even bigger names opening next year with bigger diamonds to show! A lot of research and thought goes into when and where these big name stores open, so the market is definitely here and growing. I think Queensland has always had its own take on trends from stores like these, particularly in ‘winter’ when we can’t follow some of the fabulous European looks. We adapt and play and do make luxury or designer wears our own. As Queenslanders are educated in luxury it will continue to grow and evolve. Many years ago, there were limited luxury brands in Queensland and most people therefore thought that luxury was having a name branded on a handbag, now people are more discreet and appreciative of other things in the market and other aspects of what luxury can provide in their lives.
Men’s fashion in Queensland and Australia has often been seen as an under-developed and unrefined aspect of the industry (particularly when compared to international leaders in Europe). Do you agree? Or do we have a flourishing scene for men’s fashion retail and design in Queensland?
Unfortunately I do have to agree, although over the years more Queensland men have helped develop this area, with men’s designers staying here and setting up businesses, along with retailers helping to push the envelope. Queensland men will start to see more of an injection of menswear, and as long as they support it we will be able to see it as a growing market. If not, it sadly won’t be able to continue to grow in new directions. I do think it is a really interesting space to watch!
Tell us how you came to be interested in fashion…
I was interested in fashion from a young age, playing with my grandmother’s vintage clothes, always ensuring my shirt was tucked in ever so perfectly! I realised that you could make a career out of it as school was finishing, and I discovered Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE (MSIT), or what it was known as back then, Mt Gravatt TAFE. I then enrolled in the Diploma of Fashion and it opened up my eyes to the possibilities that were on offer in fashion… and even more so, on offer in Brisbane.
Where do you look for inspiration on matters of style?
I take inspiration from everything! I love taking aspects of fashion from eras past and making them more modern, particularly picking a ‘character’ (such as a sailor or lord of the manor!) and embracing that in an outfit. ‘Everyday people’ also inspire me, as fashion is so individual; how one person chooses to wear something compared to another gives me ideas and fascinates me. It is something that I think inspires a lot of people and hence the ‘boom’ in street style blogs. I think this creates possibilities for people to push themselves stylistically. Once you could only be inspired by what you saw walking down Queen Street Mall, now you can get inspired by people walking on the beach in St Tropez, shopping on Fifth Avenue, or sitting in a Parisian cafe; with a click of a button!
What is your most treasured dress-related object or memory?
There are so many!!! Although most are gifts that people have given me, or pieces that I have really thought about and committed to buying myself as a ‘treat’. A vintage Rolex my partner gave me for my 30th Birthday is very special and I wear it daily. It was made the year I was born, I love that it has a history to it, and I love that it is from Justin.
Give us three words, people or places you associate with Queensland fashion…
Colour: we don’t shy away from it and it complements our lifestyle so well.
Growing: I think that Queensland is constantly growing and learning within the fashion world. I love that people give things a go in Queensland fashion.
Commitment: I think there are so many people in Queensland committed to the cause of fashion and have helped develop what we now have and will continue to develop what’s to come. From amazing designers, such as Paul Hunt and Easton Pearson, to retailers, including Thea Basiliou and Shan and Prue Bauer, and fabulous people, like Deborah Quinn and Kimberley Gardner.
Is there such a thing as a distinct Queensland style?
I think there are elements that we take in to consideration, such as colour, to express our passion for fun and sun! Fabrics are very important with our climate too. Although I do think we can be very individual and as I said before, I think a lot of people in Queensland are growing and learning within the world of fashion. As a result, we try new things all the time, new looks, and styles. So at this point I wouldn’t say there is a distinct Queensland style, although I am sure people from other cities looking in may disagree!
Published in Issue 3, on September 24, 2013.