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Postel is the Melbourne-based label creating knitwear that celebrates the human form

IMAGE VIA @POSTEL_ISM/INSTAGRAM

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“Now I have something really beautiful to show for a not-so-beautiful time in my life.”

Following what felt like a winter that lasted an eternity, knitwear took on a new life in the spring of 2021. After the internet collectively pined over Harry Styles’ patchwork JW Anderson cardigan, self-taught crochet and knitting novices started sharing the products of their new lockdown hobby (including me).

Some of the woollen goodies were admittedly a little lumpy-looking (‘a scarf only a mother could love’, my mum texted in response to my knitting efforts), but there were a few talented individuals who incidentally stumbled on their creative calling. Australian fashion designer Charlotte was one of those people.


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


Looking down the barrel of Melbourne’s monster 2020 lockdown, Charlotte threw herself (and her existing creative talents) into a design project she called Postel. Inspired by her experience ‘going postal’ in mundane jobs, Charlotte expanded her jewellery business into delicate, ethical, handmade knitwear. Experimenting with form, femininity and texture, Postel’s debut collection is a demonstration of rebellion and raw talent.

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

My name is Charlotte, I’m the sole person behind the fashion and jewellery brand Postel. I have a Masters of Fashion and Business from RMIT and I’ve worked as a womenswear fashion designer. I’ve also studied architecture and had experience as a model, both of which helped shape my career.

I’ve always been drawn to experimenting with form and I love the production process. Entering into the industry as a designer, I never quite found a brand to work for that truly aligned with my aesthetic and slow fashion values. So instead, I quit my job and started working for myself.

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

 

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The project came to life during the lockdown in 2020. I’d always spoken about wanting to run my own business but lacked the confidence at the time. I was lucky enough to have a supportive partner who was also in the industry; he acted as a mentor and made me believe anything was possible. It’s so important to surround yourself with a positive, creative community.

His encouragement helped me get the ball rolling and from there, it was a lot of late nights and hard work. The Melbourne lockdown of 2021 was the hardest time of my life for many reasons. I threw myself into developing my knitwear and it saved me. Now I have something really beautiful to show for a not-so-beautiful time in my life.

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?

The fashion industry is beautiful but has major negative environmental and social implications. I don’t have all the answers and I’ll always strive to be better. Going into this project, I wanted to try and work in an environment where I felt inspired and like I was contributing to improving these issues.

All knitwear is made-to-order by me using both Australian and New Zealand yarn, and all jewellery is made with recycled precious metals. When I started Postel, I focused solely on jewellery design. This was something completely new to me. I loved playing with design on a smaller scale and looking at how accessories – not clothing – shaped an overall look.

The knitwear was designed to celebrate the human form. I know this can be confronting for some, but I’d like to see it become normalised. While some of my pieces might be sheer, it’s never about overtly sexualising the human figure – it’s about celebrating our bodies.

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

 

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That’s a good question and one I really should know how to answer. I would be blunt (as always). I’d say Postel is knitwear and jewellery, then tell them to look it up [laughs]!

Where did the name come from?

Postel was inspired by the term ‘going postal’. It’s a little sinister, but essentially it’s a phrase that refers to being driven to madness by mundanity or job dissatisfaction. That’s how I felt with some of my previous jobs.

When I started my own business, I wanted it to be a little ‘eff you’, a rebel to being a cog to someone else’s machine. It’s all very dramatic, but I really thought I’d lose my mind working for a vision that wasn’t my own.

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

I’m most proud of my knitwear. It’s something I achieved completely on my own, isolated in lockdown from friends and family with little support. I think it’s beautiful and it will always remind me of my inner strength. We all need a little reminder now and then!

What do you wish you knew when you started?

 

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It’s hard to say. People will often give advice but until you make the mistake and experience it for yourself, you don’t really learn that lesson. I’d say if you’re starting off, it’s important to have creative people close – not just for advice but for inspiration. It’s good to remind yourself why it’s special to produce beautiful pieces; to make people happy and create positive change.

What do you think is most exciting about Australian fashion right now?

I like to think it’s the drive to purchase local and slow fashion. The last couple of years has been eye-opening in so many ways. It’s important to support the creatives in your community; it’s a business structure that’s so beneficial for keeping excess waste at a minimum.

What about the Australian fashion industry needs to change?

I find it interesting (but understandable) that people are so used to instant delivery and gratification when purchasing online. My product is made-to-order, which simply means that when your order is placed, I make it! I get a lot of messages asking if an order will arrive in under a week.

I can understand how this happens, people are used to what they know. Big business has made it harder for small businesses to keep up. I hope that this slower approach becomes more mainstream.

Dream Australian collaborators?

 

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In the new year, I’ll be collaborating with some of my favourite Melbourne visual artists. Five different painters will use my knitwear as a blank canvas for their work. I’m really excited! Besides that project, I’d like to experiment in an area I haven’t worked before.

Go-to dinner party playlist?

My playlist is all over the place, but my favourite genre is afro psych!

Who is in your wardrobe right now?

I love all things Eckhaus Latta, Ottolinger, Rokh, Allblues and Isa Boulder.

How can we buy one of your pieces?

You can buy from my website and from various stockists in Australia and NZ.

Browse Postel’s debut knitwear collection here.

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