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Sydney label Alémais wins the 2022 National Designer Award

WORDS BY GIULIA BRUGLIERA

The label took home the award thanks to its “clear direction and unique aesthetic”.

Lesleigh Jermanus of Alémais has been announced as this year’s winner of the National Designer Award. Presented by David Jones as part of PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival‘s newly extended program, the award recognises the vision of designers in their early years of business.

Alongside Alémais, five other emerging Australian designers were shortlisted for this year’s award: E Nolan, Beare Park, Blanca, Joslin and Clea.


Looking for more on the fashion industry? We’re with you. Come on over to our Fashion section. 


This year’s judging panel was made up of several industry heavyweights including Vogue Australia’s Senior Fashion Editor and Market Director, Philippa Moroney, Harper’s Bazaar Australia’s Editor in Chief, Jillian Davison, and Camilla and Marc’s designer and creative director, Camilla Freeman-Topper. Ultimately, the judges selected Alémais for its “clear direction and unique aesthetic”.

Lesleigh started Alémais in the middle of the pandemic on her living room floor. Like many in the fashion industry experience, she was having a crisis of conscience, uncertain whether she could continue in an industry that has such harmful effects on people and the planet. 

When she heard repeated stories of cancelled orders from retailers, leaving suppliers with surplus stock and mounting debt, she felt a duty to act. 

Drawing on more than 20 years’ experience across all corners of the fashion industry (including high-end and commercial), Lesleigh began speaking to suppliers about what they had on hand. 

She began Alémais with deadstock, already-printed fabrics from cancelled orders, and even some fully-formed garments that retailers no longer wanted. “We turned a denim jacket into a mini skirt, we used sleeves to cut panels for the side seams,” she noted. 

The brand has since expanded, now incorporating its own fabrics alongside deadstock, as a way to drive the creative vision forward and, evidently, meet demand. 

Alémais also took home the People’s Choice Award, as voted for by over 4,000 consumers. It’s this award that Lesleigh seemed most excited about, likely as a result of her connection to the label’s consumers. 

“Our customer is very engaged. They contact us all the time, there’s a lot of conversation about what they like and what they don’t like,” she said. 

“People make an effort to reach out which I really love. And it’s a big deal because it’s inspiring for us as a brand and as creatives.” 

The third and final award presented at the event was the Honourable Mention for Sustainability, awarded to Elinor Joslin, founder of Melbourne label Joslin. In her acceptance speech, the designer acknowledged all the shortlisted finalists for their consideration of sustainable principles, noting these considerations sat at the heart of each brand.

Her position on the importance of sustainability in fashion was clear. “This is the future of fashion. It’s where we have to head and it’s the only way forward,” she said.

Read more about the National Designer Award and this year’s finalists here. 

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