If the slow, creeping return of Champion tracksuits and frameless sunglasses proves anything, it’s that there’s no better time to reminisce over recent fashion history. So why not extend our collective noughties nostalgia to the local fashion scene?
Between 2006 and 2014, there was a handful of local labels we couldn’t get enough of. Here in Melbourne, we’ve always been pretty supportive of the little guys. But for one reason or another, these labels eventually went cold and quietly shut up shop.
Running an independent label is always tough slog. But it’s been especially tough in the past five years, during which supportive boutiques like Alice Euphemia and FAT have been knocked down in the retail transition period. That’s one explanation. There’s also fashion’s fickleness in general, or just life getting in the way.
In any case, these names undoubtedly left a mark on our local fashion industry. Here we revisit some of the labels we’ve loved and lost, to find out what in fact happened to them. (Spoiler alert: one is slated for return!)
Started in 2006 by designer Jade Sarita Arnott, there was something about Arnsdorf’s casual sophistication that caught the mood of the moment. Arnsdorf excelled at washed-out ’70s vibes, breezy cottons and draped detailing.
The brand showed at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week for a couple of seasons, attracting international attention (French blogger Garance Doré was a big fan) but then in 2011, Arnott hiked over to New York, ultimately putting the brand on hiatus as she took time off for motherhood.
In a convenient plot twist, Arnott recently moved back to Melbourne and is busy designing once more. She told Fashion Journal that she’s planning on releasing a new Arnsdorf collection later this year. Keep your eyes on @arnsdorf for updates.
You could never tell what Monika Tywanek and Ingrid Verner of TV were going to do next. One day they’d bring out perforated T-shirt dresses, the next, a floral print straight from your grandma’s couch.
Tywanek and Verner weren’t afraid of designing clothes that weren’t commercially viable. In 2007, Tywanek told The Age that she made a pair of $450 leather shorts just because she wanted to, describing them as more of an “experiment” than a “selling success.” Yet their irreverent designs took them far enough to sell through Topshop UK, and bring on a copycat attack at the hands of Sunny Girl.
Three words: pastel bomber jacket. Spark any memories? Back in 2012, designer Amie Darragh Kohane made the bomber jacket of your dreams.
Kinoak started in 2010, after Kohane cut her teeth working at Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester and P.A.M. Kinoak’s vibe was boyish, put-together yet sporty, AND had some of the raddest prints going ’round town (see: SS11/12’s florals and SS13/14’s Chinese prints.
The finale was SS 13/14. Reflecting on her time, Kohane says it was difficult to make everything locally and remain financially sustainable. “I liked to visit the makers and use the best fabrics and trims, but it wasn’t realistic,” she says.
These days, Kohane is working as a personal trainer, though is still designing on an LA-based project that’s currently under wraps.
Sarah Alessi and Ashlea Chong didn’t expect their first project out of uni in 2013 to go very far, but their frayed denim pieces were an instant hit. You couldn’t walk two blocks of the city in the summer of 2012/13 without seeing a piece of fringed, marbled indigo. Locally, Pet Shop Girls were a big supporter of POC, as was Blonde Venus, back when they were still operating out of Queensland.
POC’s immediate rise was undoubtedly owed to global Marques Almeida fever that had hit a few years prior. Who could blame us for latching onto a locally made, independent option, when we were all starved of an actual Marques Almeida stockist (and let’s face it, would probably have to starve for a month to save up the cash dollars for the real deal).
POC expanded into marbled cotton jersey separates with their second (and final) release in 2014. Chong went out to do her own thing not too soon after, debuting a range in mid-2014. Then she went quiet too.
It’s a shame when some of your favourite labels stop producing. But this is the age of the internet, and owning a piece of local fashion history is as easy as searching Ppennylane. Better get to it.
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