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4 Melburnians in fashion share the pieces they’re saving for

IMAGE VIA WILHELMINA

WORDS BY CAIT EMMA BURKE

“You have to both have a need for the item that you are looking to purchase and be able to see yourself wearing it for five to 10 years to come.”

I can still recall the first piece I saved up my pocket money for – money I’d saved in a real-life piggy bank, that was actually shaped like a pig, no less. The item I’d been practically salivating over was a pair of flared jeans from Urban Angel, the cool older sister label to Pumpkin Patch, a brand I apparently described to my mum as “stupid clothes for babies”, despite regularly wearing their clothing mere months prior.

But as all Australian/New Zealand women of a certain age (mid to late twenties) know, once you made the transition to Urban Angel, there was simply no going back. Lured in by their sparkly lilac curtains and fur-trimmed coats, I was a spider in their bejewelled cobweb. I first spotted the jeans in question in the Urban Angel catalogue, something I eagerly awaited the arrival of each month – my family had practically zero interest in fashion, so to my 11-year-old self, these catalogues may as well have been a rare copy of Vogue. 


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There they were, a Lizzie McGuire-esque bohemian wet dream. Multi-coloured embroidered flowers cascaded down the legs and coloured contrast stitching looped around the pockets and down the sides. A Britney-inspired low waist and colourful gems completed what I can now see were a pair of pants that looked like an early 2000s fever dream (or nightmare, depending on your perspective).

Once the jeans were safely in my hot little hands, I felt elated. The time it took me to pinch my hard-earned pennies made the jeans feel incredibly precious: for the next two years, I wore them incessantly and looked after them like they were a small, helpless child.

And while embroidered low-waisted jeans might not be something I’d save up for in 2021, the sentiment remains: when you save up for an item, it makes you value it a heck of a lot more. Eager to know how others approach saving for clothing, I reached out to four Melburnians in fashion to hear about their wishlist items (don’t worry, there are no bejewelled boho jeans).

Chloe Naughton, Fashion Programmer for Melbourne Fashion Festival


Image via Esse Studios

What’s a piece (from a local label) you’ve been saving for and why? 

This black Esse coat which I fell madly in love with the first time I saw it. I am pre-ordering it next week and it’s been on my list for months and it’s finally just become available now to pre-order. I know the designer Charlotte and I saw this coat but in red, about six months ago and I have been dreaming about it ever since. It’s a very expensive investment but I can see myself wearing this for 10 plus years. What I love most is the long length of this coat.

How did you first discover this brand? Why do you like it?

I actually can’t remember exactly how I discovered Esse but it was very early on in 2018 after she had officially launched. I thought everything that she was designing was incredible. And since her launch, she has been going from strength to strength. I called Charlotte one day and suggested she apply for the National Designer Award at Melbourne Fashion Festival, this is an award that I project manage. Thankfully she did apply, because after only 18 months in business she took home the award in 2019.

I love Esse because (and these might be words stolen from her), but she makes timeless classics with a modern twist. Her designs are both incredibly well designed for everyday elevated looks, but she also manufactures within Australia and produces everything she makes to an extremely high quality. For me, Charlotte ticks every box. I am slowly acquiring more and more pieces of hers. I have told her time and time again that soon I will have my very own Esse wardrobe. 

What criteria do you look for when investing in new wardrobe items? 

A few things come to mind. First things first, you have to have fallen in love with it more than you do most things. It’s the ‘stopped you in your tracks’ effect. Secondly, you have to both have a need for the item that you are looking to purchase and be able to see yourself wearing it for five to 10 years to come, alongside being able to visualise yourself wearing it with a whole range of outfits from your current wardrobe. This will justify the cost per wear and makes it a worthwhile investment.

I see investment pieces as being the more expensive pieces that you don’t purchase that often, so they definitely take consideration. Take the Esse coat for example – it’s a beautifully thick wool coat so it will keep me warm. It’s a classic and timeless cut, but also not the type of cut you see everywhere else, which is why as soon as I saw I thought ‘I must have this’. For these reasons I can see myself incorporating it into my daily wardrobe for 10 plus years. Cost per wear = definitely buy the coat. 

How do you plan on styling the piece(s)?

I guess the coat is one of the easier items to style, however this coat I can see myself wearing with my day to day straight leg blue denim Toteme jeans and black AS Colour T-shirt look (which is my daily uniform at the moment). However, I can also see myself wearing this in the evenings over much more formal attire. It’s not strictly a casual jacket, nor is it strictly an evening jacket.

@chloejnaughton

Mon Barton, Marketing Coordinator for Will & Bear, writer and photographer


Image via E Nolan

What’s a piece (from a local label) you’ve been saving for and why?

It’s been on my list for about a year now, but I’m dreaming of having a custom made tailored suit from E N
olan. Probably a birthday present to myself kinda vibe.

How did you first discover this brand? Why do you like it?

Through Instagram. I remember seeing a woman I followed (and admired) wearing a custom suit from E Nolan and I instantly fell in love. The individuality of having your own suit, and not one off the rack, plus the reassurance that it will fit perfectly.

What criteria do you look for when investing in new wardrobe items? 

Quality of fabric – I always look at the fabric content, anything synthetic just makes me sweat. Functionality – I’ll always look at how functional a piece is e.g a classic, timeless, staple item is something I’ll wear to death so I don’t mind lashing out a bit for it.

How do you plan on styling the piece(s)?

I’m thinking a classic black suit made up of an oversized blazer, worn with my simple white cropped corset by Krystal Deans underneath and low rise, straight leg trousers and white leather loafers. Hair slicked back into a ponytail. Yum.

@mons.monday

Jasmine Wallis, fashion writer and podcast host


Image via Char Studios

What’s a piece (from a local label) you’ve been saving for and why?

I’ve been meaning to order a hat from Char Studio since last summer! Now we’re in the middle of a Naarm/Melbourne winter but this hand-embroidered sun hat is still on my wish list for next season. It’s created from 55 per cent hemp and 45 per cent organic cotton and is hand-made locally. 

How did you first discover this brand? Why do you like it? 

I first came across this brand on Instagram I think. I saw the designer Charlene Caday was local and focused on social and environmentally sustainable pieces. Everything is made in small batches and if you choose a hand-embroidered piece Charlene will let you know how many weeks it will take. It feels slow and is a piece I will cherish rather than getting a similar, cheaper item made from poorer materials.

What criteria do you look for when investing in new wardrobe items?

I used to only think about how pieces would fit into my current wardrobe but now I think about what materials it’s made from, what will happen to it once I’m finished with it, are the workers who made the garment getting paid a living wage etc. 

My view of sustainable fashion has changed a lot over the last year or so to be more holistic. Saving for a piece and making sure it ticks a lot of the sustainability boxes is also more environmentally friendly in the long run as you’ll care for and cherish it more than impulse buying a trendy, cheap item. 

How do you plan on styling the piece(s)?

I’m definitely more of a summer person than a winter person so I can’t wait to wear this piece with a sundress and Twoobs sandals while on a warm picnic with my friends. 

@jasmineeskye

Sunny Chisholm, fashion writer and marketer


Image via Wilhelmina Melbourne

What’s a piece (from a local label) you’ve been saving for and why?

Ok disclaimer: this isn’t something I’m saving for anymore but it is something I had saved for at one point in time, and now that I have it, I’m obsessed. This is further reaffirmed by the fact that this jacket has paid for itself in compliments. I love jackets. Bomber jackets, puffer jackets, tuxedo jackets and boleros; no matter the style, I’ll find a home for it in my wardrobe. I love that they have the ability to elevate a dull outfit into one that feels fabulously finished, and have an armour-like quality that protects you against the elements.

How did you first discover this brand? Why do you like it?

I had been coveting these coats from Danish labels Saks Potts and Nobel Copenhagen for years but couldn’t justify coughing up hundreds of euros for the sake of a fleeting, albeit icy, Australian winter. Yes, jackets should flatter and feel great when worn, but above all else, they should be functional. So when I discovered my dream jacket from Wilhelmina Melbourne I thanked the fashion gods for blessing me with a style that had the same costumey and playful charm while being better suited to the local climate.

I first came across Wilhelmina Melbourne when I was doing some virtual window-shopping on Instagram and added it to my saved album right away. I would’ve bought it as fast as you can say ‘pandemic purchase’ but had to wait for the next drop as the brand uses a pre-order model to avoid waste and manufactures small production runs as a consequence.

What criteria do you look for when investing in new wardrobe items?

I try not to buy big ticket items for a single occasion and instead, when investing in something new, I make sure it’s something I can wear both on the weekends and at work – considering that’s where I spend one-third of my week (sob). Jackets, shoes and quality basics all fit this brief, and for me, are the things worth spending on. I love this piece because it carries any outfit on the principle that it’s designed to be noticed. It doesn’t conform to a particular trend, which means it’s less likely to date and doesn’t have to ‘go’ with anything – it’s deliberately ostentatious and stands on its own, as all the very best clothes do.

How do you plan on styling the piece?

I’ve styled it with a wardrobe-staple skivvy, black corduroy skirt and my favourite pair of boots from another beloved Melbourne label, Nakedvice.

@sunnychis

For more advice on how to invest in your wardrobe, try this.

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