From models and designers, to magazine editors and social media starlets, Lisa Teh and co-author Thom Whilton rallied an innovative group of established names and emerging talents that are unveiling Australia’s brave, independent and unique attitude towards fashion. We sat down with Lisa to find out what indeed defines Australian style…
Congratulations on the book Lisa; you and Thom have weaved together an impressive selection of talent within Australian Style, there’s not really anything else quite like it in the market.
Thank you so much. That’s what we were thinking and we were quite surprised because there are so many amazing, talented Australian people in the industry at the moment. With fashion, it’s constantly changing; people are joining the industry and leaving the industry. We wanted to capture it as a snapshot in time to really celebrate all the talent that’s shaping the industry in Australia and for Australians overseas.
What is it about Australian Designers that make them so popular abroad? They have their own signature. (For the book) we wanted to find designers who were quite true to their vision and have created a way that has their own signature. For example you could look at a Dion Lee dress and know that’s a Dion Lee dress; or Toni Maticevski, you’d know it’s a Toni Maticevski dress; so they have their own signature in their brand and they’ve been able to stay true to that while still developing and having their brand evolve. Australian’s seem to have a quiet confidence, they just go about their business and do amazing things; and people love and respect them for that.
The fashion industry, like many, continues to develop and change. How has the digital world and the power of digital marketing influenced the Australian Fashion Industry? Well the fact that we’ve got the internet now means you can access inspirational images straight off the runway as it’s happening from bloggers overseas; we’re not just limited to what we can see in Australia or right in front of us. We’ve been able to gain access to lot of different style and inspiration from around the world, and I think while it’s easy to copy what other people are doing, Australians have developed their own style. We’re quite effortless in the way we put outfits together. For example, I could see an Australian wearing a beautiful cocktail dress with killer heels but I could just as easily see them wearing that same cocktail dress with runners and still look amazing with a leather jacket thrown over it. Almost in the way that the French have that effortless, classic look, I feel like Australians have their own effortless modern twist that they put on the way they dress.
Also with digital publishing come bloggers and the impact that they’ve had on the industry. I think they’ve been amazing in transforming and democratizing the way that the average consumer can access fashion. They’ve made fashion more accessible and more relatable which is a fantastic thing; I’m not sure where they’re going to go in the next couple of years. Obviously the blogging industry has become a lot more monetized and they need to fund their living somehow; it’s just whether consumers start to move away from that. It’ll be interesting to see whether that authenticity stays with the bloggers or we then move to another source of inspiration for our fashion.
The market is fairly saturated with influencers. Definitely and I guess that’s a pro and a con; anyone who feels they have something to share can do it, I guess the negative is that you have to sort through lots of people who are self publishing to find what you really resonate with, to inspire you. There are a lot of blogs out there and the ones that have really been successful, don’t just have a short term game; they’re creating their own brand, they’re creating their own business, like for example Harper and Harley do with their own store. People like that will be here for the longer term.
It’s an interesting time… It’s actually very exciting. For brands, for example, they can communicate directly with the consumer, which they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do in the past. They can literally post a photo and say, what do you think of this colour, or fabric; and see how people react straight away. It’s giving them direct access to their customers and in return customers can get direct access from designers they love, models that they love or bloggers that they love which has really opened the channels of communication in a way that’s never been seen before.
In producing the book, what did you discover defines Australian Style? For me it was really all about that quiet confidence. Sure we show a bit of skin but it’s not overt, you might see a little bit of a shoulder or you see a lot of back on a dress; you don’t need to shout from the rooftops I am sexy you can just see it in the way Australians dress. We’re obviously a very active country, people are very fit, we’ve got a great lifestyle for people wanting to get into the great outdoors or go to the beach on the weekend; we’re confident with out bodies, we want to show it off a little bit but not in a way that’s distasteful, we’re still very tasteful in the way that we dress.
Australian Style features an incredible collection of talent. Can you talk to me about some of your most memorable interviews? It’s such a hard question! It’s like picking a favourite. There was such a wide array of people. There were people that had an unexpected story, that I hadn’t realized was the case with their journey. For example with Karla Spetic; she actually escaped a war torn country to come to Australia and when she landed here she was like what is this country everyone seems so happy whereas when she was growing up as a child she just never experienced that. And that’s really influenced her designs; they’re very whimsical. She was very eloquent and open in the way that she was talking about her story which I think was fantastic.
I loved talking to Justine Cullen, the Editor of Elle Australia; she was really generous with her time, at no point did I feel like she had something better to do; running one of the biggest publications in the country I thought I would probably get five minutes with but she was happy to keep talking as long as I was happy to keep talking, she was fantastic. She had so many interesting things to say.
Then, for example, my parents are Chinese/Malaysian; and just seeing the diversity in the models that are making an impact was extraordinary. Say Jessica Gomes, I would never have thought she’d be the face of David Jones three years ago; it’s fantastic to see that slowly Australian brands and fashion labels are really starting to use a bit of cultural diversity. That was one of the exciting things about us being able to use Sam Harris – (she has) a really unique fashion background and cultural background; to be able to have her on the cover to represent Australian Style I thought was really exciting.
What are your biggest style predictions for 2017? Just from a trend perspective I don’t think velvet is going away and it’ll still be around in autumn/winter, which is great. We’re starting to see a real comfort factor coming in; we’re seeing sportswear that you can dress up and probably go out on the town in. It’s been that evolution with sportswear where it’s been really daggy, to being a little bit cooler so you can wear it to coffee or brunch after exercising, to now it’s like the next level where you can actually dress it up and go out with a hoodie and heels on if you want to; and I love that, I mean who doesn’t want to be comfortable?
Who is your biggest style icon? That’s a hard question. For example with our team in the office, we all love fashion, we’re passionate about it so we’re willing to experiment, we’re willing to try trends that have just come from runway and interpret it in our way. For me I don’t necessarily have a style icon; I love looking at what your Gigi’s and your Kendall’s are wearing on the street but I think as I’ve gotten older I really make sure that I dress for my body shape and my colouring. I still want to adapt trends and wear them but in a way that will actually flatter my body. At the end of the day you need to be conscious of what your body shape is and what your colourings are and you can’t take trends directly off the runway and try to pull them off; work them into your existing wardrobe and try and interpret them in a way that suits your style.
Where can people purchase Australian Style? You can purchase the book online at www.australianstylebook.com.au; that’ll be a signed copy by Thom and myself. If you’d like to buy it in store you can buy it from David Jones, Myer, Big W, Dymocks… and all good book stores!
Can we expect a second edition? There might be another one in the works – stay tuned! There are so many stories to tell and one of the reasons my business partner and I started our website was really to tell stories of people who were doing amazing things. It’s been our absolute privilege to share some of these stories with Australian Style. There are just so many people we could’ve included, there’s just so many interesting people out there, that our jobs probably never going to be done; there’ll always be inspiring stories to tell…