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The best Australian and New Zealand labels to add to your capsule wardrobe

IMAGE VIA @mcintyre_merino/INSTAGRAM
WORDS BY ELLA TAVERNER

Less is more.

In recent years, the capsule wardrobe has been catapulted back into our lives thanks to the industry’s shift towards slow fashion and conscious consumption.

Though my initial memories of the ‘capsule wardrobe’ are very much tied to skinny jeans and a rotation of 2012’s finest jelly sandals (we have YouTube’s mid-2000s capsule wardrobe craze to thank for that) the trend actually dates back to the 1980s and was popularised by American designer Donna Karan when she released her iconic 7 Easy Pieces collection.


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And while a quick dive into the hashtag on Instagram will present a slew of nearly identical plain white tees on marble backgrounds, capsule wardrobes needn’t be minimal and monochromatic. A well-functioning capsule wardrobe doesn’t require you to abolish all sense of personal style; instead, it’s about creating a streamlined collection of staples you’ll reach for time and time again.

As our social media feeds become increasingly inundated with the latest micro-trends and ‘must-haves’, it can be difficult to distinguish a timeless wardrobe staple from a regretful impulse purchase. With this in mind, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of our favourite Australian and New Zealand designers who are here to help.

E Nolan

 

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It’s hard to pinpoint a more perfect capsule wardrobe item than a suit. The right two-piece will work for the office and after hours, as well as any special occasions you might otherwise have ‘nothing to wear’. Melbourne designer Emily Nolan is the best in the business. Through her eponymous label, Emily custom tailors suits to best fit your body type and suit your personal style.

For what you get, it’s not overly expensive and well worth it when you consider cost per wear. E Nolan also offers a ready-to-wear range, so you can build out your capsule wardrobe with the right shirting too. The E Nolan ‘fitting room’ is located in Melbourne, with trunk shows occasionally offered in other cities.

enolan.com.au

Arnsdorf

 

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Since its relaunch back in 2016, Arnsdorf has become synonymous with high-quality design made for the modern woman. The brand’s ethos, driven by Australian founder Jade Sarita Arnott, centres on a balance between a sustainable and ethical business model, and timeless wardrobe staples designed for longevity.

Boasting a harmonious collection of capsule wardrobe essentials, from tailored trenches to organic cotton denim, Arnsdorf has cemented itself as a favourite among slow fashion aficionados. A quick click through the site will lead you to supply chain details including the patternmaker, machinist and transparent costings of each garment.

arnsdorf.com.au

Maara Collective

 

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Maara Collective is a First-Nations-run luxury resort wear label that champions a collaborative approach to design. Finding inspiration from Country, and working closely with Indigenous artists, Creative Director Julie Shaw established the brand in 2019 to showcase and celebrate First Nations fashion and art.

The name Maara is a sign of acknowledgement and recognition to the many hands and hearts involved in the collaborative creative process, referring to ‘hands’ in the Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay language groups.

maaracollective.com

McIntyre

 

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Melbourne label McIntyre makes all its vibrantly coloured knitwear out of Australian merino wool, and it’s a big believer in the fibre thanks to its natural properties and biodegradable nature. A lime green cable knit sweater or bold orange cardigan might not seem like the most obvious option for a capsule wardrobe, but the classic cut and quality of these pieces means you’ll reach for them time and time again.

Whether tied around your shoulders overtop a striped button-up, tailored pants and sandals or dressed down with Levi’s and sneakers, colourful knitwear is much more versatile than one might think. And if you’re a fan of colour, it’s a reminder that a capsule wardrobe needn’t be lacking in fun.

mcintyremerino.com

Harris Tapper

 

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Founded in 2018 by Kiwi design duo Lauren Tapper and Sarah Harris Gould, Harris Tapper is redefining modern workwear staples through elegant femininity and sculptural minimalism. Each season and capsule is designed with the intention to evolve on the previous, delivering thoughtful yet unique pieces crafted from beautiful and hard-working fabrics. Taking an offbeat approach to design, expect the unexpected – think olive satin blazers and cobalt blue trousers.

harristapper.com

Pave

 

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The latest addition to Australia’s growing list of slow fashion labels, Pave is on a mission to simplify the art of getting dressed. With a brand ethos united by wearability, versatility and longevity, Pave’s pieces are designed to see you through life’s busiest moments. Shop an array of beautifully crafted extra-fine Merino wool tops and polos to build out your seasonless capsule wardrobe.

pave-au.com

Esse

 

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The name Esse is a shortened version of the word ‘essentials’, so it’s a sure bet when considering who to turn to for your capsule wardrobe. Designer Charlotte Hicks launched the label with a limited offering of ‘forever pieces’, which she’s slowly expanded over time. Her expert eye brings sculptural lines and considered, modern silhouettes to a range of core wardrobe styles, giving an elevated feel to what otherwise might be considered basics.

essestudios.com

Beare Park

 

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Launching its debut collection at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week in 2021, Beare Park is a luxury label designed and manufactured in Australia presenting an elevated approach to style simplicity. Worn by the likes of model Georgia Fowler, the collection offers classic tailoring with a modern twist, perfect for those looking to elevate their monochromatic wardrobe.

The brand has made a conscious effort to champion inclusivity in its designs, and its styles transcend both gender and age. Since launching, Beare Park has been named as a finalist in the National Designer Award at PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival.

bearepark.com

Nico

 

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Local label Nico is known for its organic cotton basics and its commitment to supply chain transparency and ethical production. Its plain long sleeve tops and T-shirts are essential building blocks in a capsule wardrobe – they inject some fun moments of colour (remember, capsule wardrobes don’t have to be all beige and black), are high quality and made to last, and their cut is timeless. While you’re at it, grab yourself some of their socks and underwear, too.

nicounderwear.com

Permanent Vacation

Permanent Vacation is an ongoing project series offering a curated collection of effortless and considered clothes designed to fit seamlessly into any modern wardrobe. In a bid to reject the cyclical nature of fashion consumption, each release falls under a Project, rather than a traditional season, allowing each item global relevance all year round.

permanentvacation.com.au

Wynn Hamlyn

 

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New Zealand-based designer Wynn Crawshaw launched his label Wynn Hamlyn in 2014 after a career pivot post-university. Hamlyn’s designs strike an unmatched balance between classic tailoring and playful eccentricity and are the perfect antidote to stale winter dressing. Amplified through his use of intricate fabric layering and fresh, bold colours, the label is perfect for those looking to add some vibrancy and colour to their capsule wardrobe.

wynnhamlyn.com

For more tips on how to build your capsule wardrobe, head here.

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