A Melbourne creative director lists her local labels to watch in 2021



You’re going to want to take notes.

2020 has been the year the world stood still but thankfully, fashion stops for no one and nothing – not even a global pandemic. With its brand new digital format, Melbourne Fashion Week (M/FW) is finally due to open next week.

This exciting digitalisation is not only set to bring a new flair to the acclaimed event but will allow for greater access to fashion across the board – for the first time, people can view the content anywhere and at their own convenience. 

Although the new digital runway format seems like a no-brainer, talented Melbourne-based creative director and stylist Ella Murphy says Melbourne Fashion Week 2020 wasn’t always on the cards. 

“To be honest, when I hadn’t really heard anything back in June when we normally talk about it I didn’t think anything would happen,” she says.

“I think one of the amazing things about lockdown is that we were all so deprived, and Fashion Week has meant that all of us creative directors have so much energy to give creatively because we’ve just been sitting on it for nine months. I think the digital concept they came around to is really, really incredible and the way forward for Fashion Week content-wise.”

Not only has this digitalisation made M/FW more accessible, but it has proven advantageous for smaller brands and fashion labels. With the majority of social media content for brands taking the video form, this years’ digital runways not only allow for visually exciting exhibitions but create the opportunity for even greater audience reach. 

“The exposure it gives for the brands on an international scale is second to none,” Ella says. “I personally believe the young talent we have in Australia is far superior and on par with Central Saint Martins over in London. It’s really just fantastic.”

With smaller labels in mind, I sat down with Ella to get the lowdown on all her top picks for up-and-coming Melbourne fashion labels to watch in 2021, in preparation for M/FW’s November 23 launch.


On the top of Ella’s list – and by far her favourite – is Melbourne label, Verner. Established in 2012 by designer Ingrid Verner, Ella says working with this brand for this year’s M/FW was a creative match made in heaven. 

“It was creatively for me such a great experience to work on because I like to have a good solid story concept to work with through the brand and Verner has just that,” she says. “Her collection is so wearable and she’s really taken into consideration the effect lockdown had on everybody’s wardrobe.” 

Through its use of colour and shape, Verner is known for experimenting with gender, wearability and function. Verner’s designs are created to translate well from day to night and can be easily recognised by their colours and abstract patterns. 



Another favourite Ella has collaborated with and deems watch-worthy is Ge.Labe by designer Genevieve Camilleri. “She’s really, really on-trend in terms of graphics and print,” Ella says.

“She makes her own graphics and prints them on fabric and has made some beautiful garments and hats in particular like that.” 

Ge.Label was launched in 2018 and has already been involved in VAMFF, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and been featured in magazines such as Vogue and Elle


MGN Jewellery 

Jewellery is very much on Ella’s brain right now. “I’m obsessed with jewellery labels and in Melbourne at the moment there are just so many amazing young designers,” she says. 

MGN Jewellery is no exception. From pastels to deep rubies and even custom pieces, MGN’s products are best described as elvish – they’re pulled straight from a beautiful fantasy world. 


Sacreflux Jewellery

Handcrafted in its Melbourne studio and even using the designer’s own fingerprints to create definition in their silver, Sacreflux is another one of Ella’s top picks. 

“There’s a lot of this really organic element that is coming through in designs at the moment and I think that really aligns with the movement towards local and slow fashion,” she says. 

This unisex label is the passion project of young jeweller Georgia Sacre and also takes custom orders. 


Par Moi

One of Ella’s current favourite brands, which she backs wholeheartedly, is Par Moi. A womenswear and accessories label designed by Ashiya Omundsen, all pieces by Par Moi are handmade out of her tiny studio using deadstock and surplus fabric in limited numbers. 

Ella says Par Moi has really taken off this year. “Everyone is passionately getting behind the makers and I think lockdown has really helped that.”

“People are starting to understand what it takes to make things so people can now justify paying $200 or $300 for a dress because they know that it’s coming from her hands and blood, sweat and tears. You can really see that in the garment as well,” she explains.


Bichon Pockets 

Ella’s favourite bag designer at the moment, Bichon Pockets, is known for its super unique and gender-fluid pieces. 

“She uses a mixture of faux leathers, faux feathers, the straps have a bit of a cowboy accent slash a bit of an ‘80s vibe with clear and metal details,” she says. “They’re super eclectic and I just love the designer as well.” 


Atelier Hårlem

This Melbourne brand is all about latex. From corsets, stockings, coats and even shirts, Atelier Hårlem has all the latex your heart desires. If you want to get loud about your latex, you can even make custom orders in everything from pastels to fluorescents. 

“I guess fluoro is a really big accent in fashion at the moment, particularly in stockings, and it’s just details that give that grunge element,” she says. “So I used a lot of pink, fluoro yellows and orange stockings [when I worked with Atelier Hårlem].”


Maroske Peech 

Underground brands seem to be Ella’s vibe and Melbourne-based label Maroske Peech is no exception. 

The label’s designs are inspired by ballet and performance but have a “really gritty underground Melbourne look” according to Ella.


Chris Ran Lin 

An independent menswear fashion label also based in Melbourne, Chris Ran Lin is known for its experimental and versatile pieces. 

Chris Ran Lin uses a variety of premium fibre and natural fabrics but has a particular focus on re-inventing wool. “I really love Chris Ran Lin, he’s an incredible artist,” Ella enthuses. 


Zarić Jewellery 

Sticking to the jewellery theme, Ella recommends checking out Zarić Jewellery. Self-taught designer Nastja’s predominantly terracotta pieces explore colour, shape and playful textures. 

With all pieces handcrafted in her studio, Nastja takes a sustainable approach with a particular focus on embracing jewellery imperfections and character that grows over time. 


Krystal Deans 

Eponymous slow fashion label Krystal Deans is another one high on Ella’s list. “It’s a cult favourite everyone is following at the moment,” she says. 

This brand, which makes all types of womenswear from accessories, dresses to loungewear, puts particular emphasis on the end-use and endurability of its pieces. 

All of its pieces are made to order in a small studio and excess stock is used to create its ‘waste management’ bags, which are bags made of patches of multiple fabrics. 


Underground Sundae 

Melbourne-based with a philosophy founded in strong DIY values, this jewellery brand is another of Ella’s favourites. 

“I love the eclectic-ness and rawness of her work,’ she says. “She uses a lot of pearls mixed with jewels and silverwork, and the branding is just super great and edgy.”



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