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Melbourne label Après Studio is prioritising transparency and authenticity

IMAGES VIA APRÈS STUDIO
WORDS BY CAIT EMMA BURKE

“I think I initially did it to prove a point. I wanted to prove that you didn’t have to compromise.”

Designer Meg Wilcher is a reminder that dogged determination can really pay off. Fashion has always been her focus, and after studying fashion design at university she, in her own words, “begged my favourite brand at the time, One Teaspoon, to give me an unpaid internship”. Despite not offering internships, the brand, obviously impressed by her persistence, took her on.

Not long after, she was offered the role of Assistant Designer and for the next few years cut her teeth designing collections for a variety of brands. But as she accrued more and more experience, she began to feel increasingly uneasy with the way the fashion industry operated.


Discover more local designers in our Fashion section. 


Eager to launch her own sustainable slow fashion label, she founded Après Studio in 2018 while living in Sydney. The label, now based in Melbourne, is all about transparency, something Meg saw very little of while working in other pockets of the fashion industry.

Steady in her belief that you shouldn’t have to compromise your ethics to look great, Après Studio has built a loyal community of consumers who adore her fun, elevated take on everyday essentials. I spoke to Meg about her journey and how staying true to her values has been a key component to her success.

Tell us about you. What’s your fashion background?

I grew up in a small country town in NSW, completed year 12 and moved to Newcastle. By 17, I had started studying Applied Fashion Design and Technology at uni. I got my first job in my favourite fashion boutique to pay my bills and was given the opportunity to help develop and launch its first in-house designer brand.

After graduating with excellence and innovation in design, I begged my favourite brand at the time, One Teaspoon, to give me an unpaid internship. They told me they didn’t take interns but I never left them alone. Eventually, they figured my relentless persistence meant a great work ethic and an undeniable passion for their brand. I worked my butt off for a month, going back and forth between Sydney and Newcastle. Just before my internship ended, they offered me a job as the Assistant Designer to Jamie, the owner of One Teaspoon at the time.

 

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I moved to Sydney within the week and started travelling the world, visiting factories and helping to launch men’s, children’s and continue designing womenswear with a strong focus on denim. I was 20 at the time and worked there for three years designing collections, being a fit model and an eCommerce model.

I then got a full-time job at a local designer boutique on the Northern Beaches of Sydney and launched a brand for them. At the time I was also working at nights and on weekends as a freelance senior designer and production manager for multiple brands for a design agency called Visionise. It was here, living in beautiful Avalon, NSW that I launched my brand baby, Après Studio.

Here I am now… in Melbourne and working super hard on my number one babe, Après Studio as well as working full time as a creative director and designer for an environmentally responsible, gender-neutral movement essentials brand (say that without stuttering) Nu Form! We are launching collection one in November!

How did the label get started? Talk us through the process and the challenges.

I started my brand because I was so frustrated and disappointed by the industry. The exploiting of people that worked for them, makers that made for them, the lack of care for the impact on the environment and overall lack of transparency. If I ever wanted to go shopping and buy myself something, I could never find anything I wanted to wear that was good enough quality and wasn’t exploitative. I always had to compromise.

I borrowed money from my parents to fund my first collection which I am so lucky to be able to have done. I understand that this is a privileged position to be in. I am still in fact paying this back! The biggest challenges, to begin with, were finding makers that were ethical, had low minimum quantities and access to organic and recycled certified fabrics, dyes and finishes.

 

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What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has this evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now?

Honestly, I think I initially did it to prove a point. I wanted to prove that you didn’t have to compromise or give in to things that compromise your authenticity or values. I also wanted to prove to others and myself that I could do this on my own. It has evolved into a super transparent community of creative clothing lovers. I believe my audience can trust everything I produce.

I have gained this trust by being transparent, flexible and educational and only ever producing garments that I love and have worn, washed, tried and tested. I let the clothing do the rest of the talking! I believe that you don’t have to compromise on style and authenticity to look great whilst making choices that honour our environment so you can feel great both consciously and physically.

How would you describe Apres Studio to someone who’s never seen it before?

I would describe it as a fun, detailed, responsible and honest brand that creates elevated essentials for everybody.

Where did the name come from?

I have French heritage. Aussies are so funny and I think (myself included) have a perception of French things being of high quality, so I used that to my advantage! It was something I created living by myself in a studio after working SO hard for an industry that pushes you to breaking point. This was a marker in time that represented never compromising again. Thus, Après Studio (after studio).

 

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What are you most proud of in your work on your label?

I am proud of my ability to wear all the different hats you have to wear owning and running your own business. I have always been a hustler and I work so hard at my other job to keep funding the releasing of responsible pieces. I am proud of myself for taking risks and creating clothing that doesn’t compromise and hosting a platform for a community that educates people on the flawed fashion industry and how to make positive change.

What do you wish you knew when you started?

Everything! Less is more. Slow down. One great piece is better than 27 pretty good ones. Keep a good record of your finances. Talk to people to identify your market position and the gaps you are filling. Trust your gut.

Who do you think is most exciting in Australian fashion right now?

In terms of design, I have always loved Christopher Esber, Dion Lee and Ellery. I am in awe of their construction techniques and intricate design detailing. They are the GOATs of Aus fashion [and] have all survived and stayed rather relevant through a decade of [a] huge amount of great change for our industry. Smaller and exciting, Nagnata and Suku. I don’t know many others that I personally find inspiring, all the rest are overseas!

 

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What about the Australian fashion industry needs to change?

HUGE question. A lot! Availability of certified organic and recycled fabrics. Growth of crops to process our own Australian-made fabrics here onshore. More making done onshore, therefore, increasing demand and bringing jobs back to our country. Teaching people here in Australia how to design, pattern make, grade, and sew.

Brands being honest and informative about costs to make clothing here and how much they should really be paying for an item of clothing that has been responsibly produced. Consumers asking questions and being willing to change their deeply engrained consuming habits.

How can we buy one of your pieces?

Right here!

You can follow Après Studio here and shop its range here.

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