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How Error 404’s creative director curated a community through clothing

IMAGES VIA ERROR 404

WORDS BY ISABELLA WIGHT

“We aim to amalgamate creative communities across Australia and abroad and to raise awareness for the future of a healthier, more collaborative, forward-thinking planet.”

To stave off descending into deep insanity, my housemates and I took a lot of long walks last year. We lived in a beautiful (and overpriced) area of Melbourne, so took full advantage of our 5km radius by circling our favourite beer-and-natural-wine-drinking park, Edinburgh gardens.

Our usual route ground to a halt one afternoon when we spotted a new store opening, its mannequins draped in Krystal Deans patchwork velvet and artfully ruched Karlaidlaw mini skirts. “I’m going to spend so much money there,” my housemate whispered.


Discover more up-and-coming local designers in our Fashion section. 


And we did. The Error404 store became a meeting spot, the end of our walking routes and the place we went to say goodbye to our paychecks. In a short year, the store has evolved exponentially, moving through the successes, challenges and difficult lessons that come with owning a small business.

Kacy Heywood, the store’s in-house designer, owner and creative director, explains that the journey was never linear. There will always be room to grow with conscious thought, considered action and respect – for the community the store has built and the inspiring creatives within it.

As an avid shopper and quiet admirer, I wanted to know what was next. Following its reopening at the end of last month, I spoke to Kacy about the Error404 evolution.

 

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Hi Kacy, thank you for talking to us today! To start off, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background in the industry? 

Hi Isabella. I’m a New Zealander from Pelorus Sounds in the South Island. I think so much of my identity is being a fashion designer and working to build everything I currently have around me. However, I’m a nature girl at heart and strive to get this balance.

It’s important for me to be around the sea and trees. I’m self-taught so my background in the industry doesn’t really exist. I have never interned or worked for anyone else. If I wanted to learn something, I would Google it. I threw myself in the deep end in 2014 with starting my label Ka-He and progressed from there.

The Error404 store emerged in August of last year, which was kind of a strange time for Melbourne. What was that creative experience like for you? 

Stressful but necessary! I felt Melbourne was missing an accessible and open-armed fashion community that I wanted to be a part of, so I thought ‘Why not create one?’ It was also a means to survive too. Due to the pandemic sending me back from Germany, as a Kiwi, I wasn’t able to get financial help from the government. Bars were closed and there was no work.

I just had my label Ka-He to fall back on (and my super) – I honestly thought it was all going to blow over within a couple of months. Seven months later the doors opened! Everyone thought I was crazy signing a retail lease back then and opening up a brick-and-mortar shop. Maybe I was. Creatively, it’s been a bit of a blur.

 

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Error404 is all about spotlighting emerging artists and designers. How does the curation process work in terms of the brands you showcase?

There is unlimited talent out there! To start, it was pulling in designers on a similar page to Ka-He, such as Krystal Deans, Karlaidlaw and Jordan Gogos. The curation naturally evolved from there. Artists, designers and musicians are forever linked. One leads to another. On the first day we opened, a customer Zoe walked in wearing a Die Horny hat – that day I messaged Neo asking if they’d like to stock with us. Seeing what your customers are wearing is an easy way to curate and Instagram is an amazing tool to discover new designers and investigate who they are.

As the store evolved, so did our curation process. We are a lot more selective and fussier on who we want to stock in the store. There needs to be a balance of strong/established designers and artists to uplift the store and give a wider reach for those who need more elevating. We consider their sustainable ethics, moral grounding and background.

As someone with a design background yourself, has it been difficult finding like-minded creatives?

That is a solid no. I feel like this is why Error404 is doing so well. Finding the balance between sustainability and creative integrity with our labels isn’t difficult at all! There is so much enthusiasm and talent out there that is passionate about making locally and being sustainable as much as they can.

 

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The goal for Error404 is to become a multi-faceted arts and design hub. What do you see for the future of the Error404 community? 

Error404 aspires to host more dynamic and considered events. We hope to include: workshops, artist Q&As, launches, DJ nights, poetry readings, short film screenings and more. As a space, we aim to amalgamate creative communities across Australia and abroad and to raise awareness for the future of a healthier, more collaborative, forward-thinking planet. I’d say the goal is to enable progressive arts and design in the physical and online [spaces].

As someone who has stocked in retail spaces before, I felt a shift in this world and as the designer you were ‘lucky’ to be put into a store and [it] was difficult to sustain because of the consignment ratios/method. It should be the other way around. Error404 feels truly blessed to have the people we have in the shop and is doing everything in its power to help them grow. If you would like to read more about who we are and our goals, here is a link.

Visit the Error404 site here and follow its Instagram here.

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