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A stylist shares 5 emerging Australian labels to watch

Words by Sally Edwards

It’s time to celebrate the up-and-coming Aussie designers who are doing our eyes and our earth some good.

2020 has been difficult and challenging, to say the least, but there have at least emerged some silver linings in the fashion world. Under the weight of global crises, emerging figures in Australian fashion are proving that sustainable, local and timeless design is essential to minimising our carbon footprint and maintaining originality in a mass-produced world.

It’s not only designers who are clued up on fashion’s dark side, but Aussie consumers, too. There’s no doubt that we are taking a hell of a lot more notice of where a piece has come from, who made it and whether it’s been mass-produced or, with any luck, made-to-order. 

Melbourne-based stylist and art director Jam Baylon agrees, telling me it’s critical that we back sustainable and homegrown labels over the cheap, fast kind, and that we foster our country’s emerging talent – not just those labels who are already established.

“We really need to support these designers because they’re really taking consideration of their artistic approach,” she says.  “And, most importantly, we want them to grow as a business to support [local] employment.”

“Like, it’s not just about the fashion component, it’s actually watching [these labels] grow and hopefully the jobs stay here in Australia because, yes, there are some items we can purchase online for $20 or $5 but they pretty much disintegrate after the first season, or we don’t like it, and then it goes back into landfill and it’s just not really good for the environment. And what’s going to happen in terms of the future, the next generation?”

So, in light of almost making it through the start of 2020 and finding something to celebrate in the realm of fashion, Jam, who is a major advocate for local independent and emerging designers and ethically produced fashion, has shared her top up-and-comers in Aussie fashion of the year so far. 

But, first, how exactly can we show our support for these labels? 

“The best way to support is to be considerate of what you’re wearing and where it comes from and, just really, help them grow and use your own tools, like social media.”

E Nolan

On the top of Jam’s list is Melbourne gal Emily Nolan’s label, E Nolan. Through her celebration of personality, timeless design and craftsmanship and tongue-in-cheek approach, Nolan has redefined the standardised work attire.

With an unbeatable combo of luxury fabrics and couture finishes, Nolan’s garments are crafted to be worn to death, becoming a constant in one’s wardrobe rotation. “Emily Nolan is another designer who I’ve watched and just love the quality of work that she’s producing,” says Jam.

“I just think she’s going to grow in terms of the timeless power-suiting she makes and the day-to-evening pyjamas that she has. They’re ethically sourced and I think there’s going to be big things to come in terms of her designs.”

enolan.com.au

Mastani

Another favourite of Jam’s worth keeping an eye on is Mastani. Founded by creative director Kudrat Makkar, this Melbourne-based label embraces divine female power, referencing Indian culture and tradition through its craftsmanship.

“[Makkar’s] collection, her design, her as a person is phenomenal,” says Jam. “[The collection] is so edgy but also feminine and the consideration of her embroidery and the fabrics is just absolutely amazing.”

Although based in Melbourne, Mastani has a design team in Milan and an atelier in India but in each location there remain at least two constants: a strong focus on sustainable and ethical production, and a celebration of timeless, empowering and original design.

“There’s a bit of spunk in each piece that she has in the collection.”

mastani.com.au

Perple

Another emerging label out of Melbourne high on Jam’s list is Perple.

“I think Perple would definitely be the next label that I see that’s best emerging,” says Jam. “Anyone can wear it. With each collection, or emerging collection, there’s really no right and wrong,”

Founded by Huiliana Chandra-Curry, or Holly, each collection is designed with strong women in mind. Every piece is made-to-order from the label’s local studio with a keen eye for firm lines, sharp cuts and refined materials.

“Her collection is probably relatively unique. There’s a lot of construction going on in each piece, it’s almost engineered,” says Jam. “They are very powerful pieces but then there’s an element of a very feminine approach in terms of the pieces and the colour palette. And, they’re handmade and the fabrics [are] also locally sourced or recycled.”

perplewomen.com

Sunshine Symbol

Sunshine Symbol is Melbourne based designer Melissa Mikletic’s labour of love. Every piece in her collection is produced in Melbourne by a select team of small production seamstresses and is inspired by female muses, two of which, and the most prominent, are Mikletic’s mum and grandmother.

Sunshine Symbol, like the others on this list, has an affinity for keeping it local and slow.

“Beautiful pieces. Feminine. Very playful. I don’t really have a feminine fashion approach but I definitely would wear her pieces,” Jam swoons. “And once again, it’s locally designed and uses local machinists.”

sunshinesymbol.com

Kalaurie

Kalaurie Karl-Crooks’ eponymous womenswear label Kalaurie is a brand founded on the values of storytelling, craftsmanship and environmental consciousness.

Each garment is handcrafted to order from her Melbourne studio from repurposed, renewable and biodegradable fabrics, and presented in limited-edition capsule collections only annually, which means she minimises waste and maximises resourcefulness.

Although Jam notes that Kalaurie isn’t exactly ‘up-and-coming’ (the label has been around for a few years) she has cherished seeing Kalaurie grow from graduate “… into a label that has flourished.”

“Every time I see a new piece coming out of her collection or from a capsule, I just think she gets better and better.”

kalaurie.com.au

jambaylon.com

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