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Meet the Molly Goddard alum launching her own upcycled Melbourne label

PHOTOGRAPHY – TRUDI TREBLE / STYLING – BETTY LIU / STYLING ASSISTANT – PATRICK ANDERSON / HAIR AND MAKEUP – CHLOE ROSE / TALENT – Peta Duncan and Mel Masuda-Ishizuka / WORDS – AMY FOCIC

“I’ve always wanted to start my own label, but I’ve been so aware of the environmental impacts of the fashion industry.”

There’s no doubt the pandemic has prompted a shift in how sustainability is prioritised in the fashion industry, among both brands and consumers alike. Melbourne-based designer Claire Myers experienced this shift long ago, back when she was selling upcycled vintage and secondhand garments online after finishing high school.

Now, returned from a graduate role at London fashion label Molly Goddard, Claire is making her long-held vision for changing the culture of waste in fashion a reality.


For more fashion news, shoots, articles and features, head to our Fashion section.


Launching her label Lambert online during a pandemic is not what she had in mind, but Claire hopes the fashion community can experience her designs in the flesh once Melbourne opens up. I spoke with Claire about learning tailoring techniques in India, the inspiration behind the brand’s name, and the machinations of designing upcycled clothing.

Hi Claire, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into fashion as a career?

When I was in high school, my mum and I used to sell stuff on Ebay together and I’ve always been really interested in secondhand and vintage clothing and selling it. When I finished high school I moved to Brisbane and ran an online, vintage eCommerce site for a year before I moved to Melbourne.

When I was doing that I started upcycling all the pieces that I was selling and I really wanted to learn more about how garments are constructed and actually figure out how to make things myself, and that’s why I decided to do the RMIT fashion design program. I did the honours degree at RMIT and I just really loved it, and did a few internships while I was doing that at a few different labels in Melbourne. I also went on exchange to India.

 

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I was going to ask you about that! Tell me about that experience.

It definitely changed everything for me because the way that the fashion education system is in Australia and Europe is very conceptual, which is amazing and so important, but the course that I was doing over there was so technical, Everyone learning fashion there has to learn about production and all these really technical sides of fashion that we don’t really need to think about as much studying fashion in Australia.

It was amazing, I learned tailoring in a very basic, grassroots way of just using a measuring tape and chalk, and also all these amazing, traditional hand embroidering techniques as well, so it was just a really great opportunity to learn all these hand skills that I hadn’t ever encountered. I was able to go fabric shopping and go to this big city called Bangalore with my classmates for a week just to go fabric shopping. It was so much fun, and you would just never do that here. We went to big factories to see production, where Western labels were getting their clothes made. So I think it was a really interesting insight into the industry which I hadn’t seen before. 

How has your time at Molly Goddard influenced the way you’re designing now for Lambert? 

The team there is quite small, it’s only about 10 people, so I was kind of working in close proximity to all the different members of the team there. So in the atelier the pattern cutter, the studio manager, all the production team, even the press and marketing team as well, and sales. Because everyone was so close-knit, I was training under the head pattern cutter but I got to see almost all the aspects of the business and I think that was really exciting because coming from a technical background, you just think about the clothes all the time, but I actually really love the business and production side of things as well.

It was just an amazing technical experience as well. I was doing all the pattern making for the head pattern cutter for three collections while I was there, and also resort collections, and a few other sub-collections that they do between seasons. It was very intense and I was learning new things all the time. Everything I was doing I was like “Oh my gosh this is so interesting, I never would have thought to do this or work like this”. It was just really eye-opening.

 

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Your label Lambert is all made from post-consumer apparel. Where has the motivation come from to get into this space?

I’ve always wanted to start my own label, but I’ve been so aware of the environmental impacts of the fashion industry. A lot of my classmates and people I studied with have left the industry because it’s such a conflict of interest. It’s so hard to know what is the right thing to do because you love clothing so much but you don’t want to impact the world negatively and create more waste. But I think as well I’ve seen, especially during the pandemic, so many people start to think about the fashion industry in a new way, like with upcycling or people figuring out how to invent technologies where you can boil down fibres and completely make them into new fabrics.

Being able to sell online and do pre-order and things like this has become so much more common – there’s a lot of change happening in the industry which is really exciting. I’ve always wanted to start my own label, but I’ve always just been a bit cautious about how to do it in a way that’s not going to impact the environment. So I was thinking about it a lot, and when I arrived back from London I went op shopping and bought all these different garments from the op shop. I was trying to figure out how I could find one garment that I could take apart and turn it into something to use, and in a way that I could do that over and over again. 

What’s it been like creating Lambert in a pandemic? 

It’s been hard because I really value the importance of community. Fashion is so digital now, that there’s so much joy that can be taken from it in the physical realm. So I think shows and presentations and stores are so important, and I feel really sad that’s not going to be part of my initial launch. But once I realised we were going to be in lockdown for a while, I decided to pivot and I learnt this 3D prototyping and rendering program called Clo.

It’s basically this incredible technology where you design garments in 3D and the technology’s so good that you can program in all of the materials and it looks very realistic. I started learning that and I’ve been basically building out all my garments in 3D. I don’t know what I would’ve done without it now because it’s amazing in terms of prototyping anything in 3D before making anything in real life, which saves fabric, time and really helps with the whole sustainability angle, because I can just prototype everything up before I manufacture.

 

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Where does the name Lambert come from?

Lambert is my mum’s maiden name. There are quite a few labels that do that which I love. My mum and my grandma are both very creative and have always been very inspiring to me and my mum also taught me how to sew when I was younger. My nanny is amazing at drawing and pottery. I have my mum and my nanny and I have four sisters, so the name Lambert connects all the women in our family because we’re all quite creative, so it felt fitting for this project.

Do you have a long-term vision for Lambert? 

It’s hard to get out of the short term vision and think about the long term but I really want to make sure it’s something that’s sustained and can go into the future. I guess where I want to go from now is to start building more of a company. I’d love to be able to get people on board to help me do all of the production and sewing because at the moment I’m just doing it all by myself.

I also think there’s a lot of potential in the 3D aspect, so once I save the money, I’m going to build my own PC, like a gaming computer. Because you need such a good computer to do all the 3D and modelling. So I’m hoping to invest a lot in that side of things because that’s something that’s so exciting to me. 

Where can we buy your pieces?

You can purchase pieces from my online store and from No Order Market in Melbourne (date TBC).

You can view the Lambert short film premiere and L1/22 collection here on Thursday 23 September at 6pm.

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