Personal style and fashion blog

Thursday, 25 October 2018

9 Australian Fashion Brands You Need to Know


Since coming to Australia earlier this year, I've been trying to embrace the local culture as much as possible (read: drinking lots of locally-produced wine, rather than spending my days in art galleries). Part of this has been discovering some of the incredible home-grown labels that have been steering me away from my staples of Uniqlo, Zara and COS. From minimalist swimwear labels to creators of easy slip dresses and the best sandals you'll ever meet, here are nine Australian fashion brands you need to know.


Image result for alex and trahanas

A new discovery for me, Sydney-based Alex and Trahanas creates simple but well-made linen pieces that are perfect for summer - think short sleeved shirts with matching shorts, and shirt dresses that could be thrown on over your bikini post-beach or dressed up with a bit of jewellery for dinner (speaking of which, the brand's jewellery collaboration with Louise Olsen provides the perfect accessories). Alex and Trahanas also sells Italian ceramics on its online store, so you can match your Italian linen tee with a Puglian espresso cup.

Shop Alex and Trahanas here.


Arthur Apparel Winter clothing

Arthur Apparel first came on my radar before coming out to Australia and I'd fantasise about arriving and spending my days in the label's handmade pieces. Expect a lot of linen, oversized lightweight trench coats and roomy jumpsuits. The colour palette is one of neutrals too, with white, terracotta and black making up the bulk of the collections (music to my ears).

Shop Arthur Apparel here.



Assembly Label creates those easy, high-quality wardrobe staples that everyone needs yet can be seemingly so hard to find. For those of us who like our jeans straight-legged and unripped, our t-shirts plain and boxy and our swimwear well-fitted and devoid of thousands of straps and weird cut-out sections (I picked up a soft grey bikini in a sample sale recently and it's one of the best fitting pieces of swimwear I've tried in a long time), Assembly Label is a god-send. The brand does menswear too, and the stores are beautiful, calming spaces.

Shop Assembly Label here.



Not only does Bassike create well-constructed, laid-back basics, but this Aussie brand is also committed to sustainable manufacturing. Most of Bassike's pieces are loose-fitting and slightly sack-like (in a good way) and the collections range from simple tees, to relaxed tailoring and utilitarian trousers that you'll keep on wearing for seasons to come.

Shop Bassike here, or on Farfetch here.


Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

With each piece designed and made in Australia, Sydney-based Her Line is all about creating great clothing, locally. What started out in 2014 with swimwear, Her Line now has a ready to wear collection (and boasts a global cult following). It's that original swim offering that makes this brand so great though - founder Tuyen Nguyen favours pieces that flatter, frame and support the body, with designs that are pared-back and timeless.

Shop Her Line here, or on Ssense here.



Lucy Folk is another one I recently came across while living in Melbourne (although it appears I'm slow off the mark - the brand has fans in the likes of Leandra Medine and Pernille Teisbaek and has collaborations with colette Paris and more under its belt). Lucy Folk is renowned for its classic yet personality-filled jewellery and sunglasses, but also has some incredible dresses and kaftans for the ultimate in stylish beachwear. If you find yourself in Melbourne or Sydney, make sure to visit one of the brand's beautifully-curated stores.

Shop Lucy Folk here, or on Net-A-Porter here.


Image result for matin studio

With a name like 'Matin', it's little wonder this Sydney-based label has a touch of French style - particularly inspired by '70s icons Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot. It's a subtle reference though, rather than a full-blown retro look, making this a label that is bohemian and refined in equal balance (no mean feat). If you like loose, slightly tailored pieces (I'm talking wide leg trousers that sit at the ankle and long slip dresses with sturdy square necks and thick straps), Matin is the brand you'll want to return to again and again.

Shop Matin here, or on The Iconic here.



It's a bold statement (especially here in Aus), but Matteau has to be my favourite swimwear brand. Its collections are made up of high-quality designs that are simple, timeless and built to last, meaning no flash-in-the-pan trends that you'll tire of by the time next summer rolls around and no pieces that will become threadbare after a few washes. Matteau also creates some great cover-ups that you'll want to wear at the beach and beyond - think loose, slightly tailored cropped trousers rather than the ubiquitous see-through kaftan.

Shop Matteau here, or on Matches here.


Corfu Woven Slides - Almond

My first encounter with ST.AGNI was at the brands' beautiful little store in Byron Bay, where I picked up a pair of tan leather Yuka slides (and almost haven't taken off since). ST. AGNI's simple but beautiful slides and sandals are the stuff of holiday wardrobe dreams (I've got my eye on a pair of woven loafers), while clothing mainly takes the form of breezy linens in neutral shades.

Shop ST. AGNI here, or on Net-A-Porter here.


Images property of each brand 

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Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The TOAST Japanese Jacket



Wearing: ASOS Sunglasses, TOAST Japanese Jacket (gifted), COS Trousers, ST. AGNI Slides

Whenever I go home to visit my parents (which, admittedly, has been a while what with now being on the other side of the world), there's almost always a TOAST catalogue lying around on the kitchen table. One of the first things I'll do on arrival is plonk myself down with a huge cup of tea and leaf through said catalogue as my mum and I point out our favourite pieces and build a fantasy wardrobe, complete with commentary on when and how we'd wear each piece.  


TOAST is an incredible British brand I associate with quality and longevity, creating boxy, slightly mannish clothing that I love and always manages to transcend seasons (their homeware is beautiful too). So when the team asked me to get involved with the launch of their new Autumn collection and A Creative Practice campaign, it's safe to say it was one of the most exciting emails to land in my inbox for quite some time.  


This season, TOAST has joined forces with six illustrators who have created six 'half done' postcards. These illustrators have started off the drawing, and TOAST is inviting customers and followers of the brand to complete them in any way they wish. 


You'll find these postcards in that aforementioned catalogue, in stores or packed with orders and you can share your creation on Instagram using #acreativepractice, send them back to TOAST to be included in an in-store installation, or simply keep them for yourself (I'll be using mine to decorate my new flat and have actually loved the excuse to get out a pen and paper and do something creative that hasn't involved a computer screen and a keyboard). You can find out more about A Creative Practice and see other people's postcards here


As for the Autumn/Winter collection, expect wool gabardine trousers, sturdy leather lace-up boots, cord jackets and matching trousers, button-down needlecord shirts and thick cashmere knits that will make you glad of the colder months (I'll be admiring from afar as I enter the Australian summer). 


My pick though, is this Japanese Indigo Cotton Jacket. Featuring a mandarin collar and three knot buttons to the side, it's the kind of thing I can wear buttoned up and create a makeshift suit with navy trousers, like I've done here, or loose with boxy layers once it starts to warm up. 

Shop the new TOAST collection here


While this jacket was a gift from TOAST, all views and styling are my own. 

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Monday, 17 September 2018

My (Near) Lifelong Love Affair with Second Hand Clothing




I go through distinct phases when it comes to second hand clothes shopping. I can date my first experience back to circa 2001 on a family holiday somewhere up in Scotland. I don't remember much about the trip except it being cold and damp and we stayed in an old flat that had something to do with Charles Rennie Mackintosh (which, of course, I completely didn't appreciate at the time).  

What does remain a vivid memory, though, is the guestbook in said flat. In one of the previous entries, one woman wrote that she'd picked up a Burberry trench coat in the local charity shop for £5 (and a genuine one at that, not the many knock offs that were circulating at the time). Five pounds! I was 11 at the time, I'd just started to take an interest in fashion that went beyond Tammy Girl and well, even I could afford £5 with my monthly pocket money. I hot-footed it to said charity shop, ignoring the pleas of my parents to go and experience the local culture and spent a great deal of time searching the racks. Alas, the Burberry trench was a one-off but I had been fully introduced into the world of second hand shopping. My quest for cheap but genuine branded clothing continued into my teens, with most of my Saturdays spent in Liverpool's TK Maxx, my best friend in tow, each of us eager to find the ultimate bargain.


Then came 2008, the start of my university years in Newcastle. Like most other students at the time, my frugality led me to the many vintage shops in the city (no idea if they still exist but the best were around High Bridge) and clearing the date in my diary when the vintage fairs rolled into town and took over the student union. I couldn't get enough, my wardrobe was filled with off-beat, pre-loved oversized jumpers, old silk scarves and reconstructed shirts (as you can probably tell, I was a lot more adventurous in my wardrobe choices back then). 


The trouble is, I overdid it. July 2011 marked my graduation and after the ubiquitous gap year in South America, I was thrust into the real world with my first proper job in London. I was earning above the minimum wage (well, just about) for the first time in my life and armed with my overdraft and the recklessness that comes with being a young twenty-something in the capital, I didn't care for what I started to think of as other people's cast offs. I wanted new, I wanted shiny, I wanted exciting. 

I'm now 28 and I don't think I've gone near second hand clothing for a good seven years. That is, until now. If I haven't harped on about it enough, earlier this year I moved out to Australia and after a bit of travelling, I've been calling Melbourne home for the past two months. Of course, I've been sampling the shops as much as I have the incredible brunch spots, restaurants and rooftop bars and while the high street offering isn't as strong as the UK (yup, I said it), this city does a bloody good independent. 


I've spent quite a bit of time in Collingwood, an inner northern suburb that has some of the best cafes in the city (plus there always seems to be a sample sale going on). Early on in our arrival in Melbourne, I walked past an unassuming shop front on Johnston St but something immediately caught my eye: on one of the mannequins, lo and and behold, was a Marni coat. I looked up at the sign: Recycle Boutique. My forgotten love of second hand shopping and sheer enthusiasm for a bargain came flooding back and I stepped inside. 

Turns out, it was a consignment store and they only accept quality, well looked-after pieces from great brands (I'm talking COS, Acne, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Solace London). I was immediately drawn to these tailored, navy COS trousers that I'm wearing here - in great nick and a steal at $38 (about £20) - and have become a core piece of my wardrobe. This past weekend I went back, expecting my great find to have been a one hit wonder, and then these adidas Originals Deerupt trainers happened. Rather than pre-owned they were a bit shop-soiled on the sole...essentially they were as good as new, and less than half the price. 

Two incredible buys. Maybe it was a fluke, a lucky strike. Or maybe this is a sign to reignite my passion for second hand. 






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Tuesday, 21 August 2018

The Perfect Grey T-Shirt



Wearing: ASOS Sunglasses, Acne Studios T-shirt (similar), H&M Trousers, Converse Trainers, Thomas Sabo Watch

Ahh, the sample sale. A feeding frenzy for fashion lovers and label whores alike who can't resist the idea of a one-of-a-kind, so-good-you'll-be-telling-people-for-years-to-come kind of bargain. I've frequented a few in my time and left disappointed more often than not but they still draw me in (seriously, there's normally a lot of crap). So when Acne promised up to 80% off a whole bunch of pieces from the past few seasons, I naturally blocked out an entire day and allowed my fantasies of a size 4, scuff-free pair of Pistols and the ultimate leather biker to run wild. 


I headed to Collingwood on that fateful day, full of optimism, only to find half of Melbourne was already queuing for those same pieces I desperately coveted. But I persevered (I wasn't working at the time, so I needed to fill my hours and wardrobe somehow) and I'm so glad I did. As you can imagine, it was a free for all and some of my fellow bargain hunters were ruthless but I still came out with a couple of great pieces that were even better than high street prices (I. Know).


Alas, the biker jacket of dreams wasn't meant to be (apparently they're not as heavy-handed with the discounts as I so wishfully thought) but I decided to stock up on some high-quality basics instead, one being this grey t-shirt. Not exactly exciting, I grant you, but the loose boxy shape and soft, fine fabric makes it the perfect plain tee that I know will be hanging in my wardrobe for a long time to come. And all for a mere $30 (or £17 to my fellow Brits). 





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Thursday, 2 August 2018

The Uniqlo U Trench



Wearing: ASOS Sunglasses, Uniqlo U Trench Coat (similar), H&M Jumper and Trousers (similar), Ganni Trainers

Anyone who knows me, or has been following this blog for a while will know that I'm a big advocate of Uniqlo. Their fine merino knits are some of the best and most affordable on the high street (I go for the men's for a looser fit, plus the women's seem to sit quite short on the body) and they do a great tailored trouser.


It's the collabs and special collections that really do it for me though. Loose-fitting Hana Tajima tunics and trousers have been a staple in my wardrobe since the first collection was released a few years back, and I felt like I'd died and gone to high street collab heaven when Uniqlo teamed up with Lemaire. Then of course, there was the recent JW Anderson collection (which I now look back on in longing and wishing I'd invested in a few pieces), and offerings from Tomas Maier and Marimekko for those with a bolder approach to style. 


It will come as no surprise then, that I eagerly anticipate the new Uniqlo U collections released each season; an ongoing line designed by Christophe Lemaire following that original collaboration (in fact, I've just been earmarking a few bits from the upcoming AW18 collection, due to launch mid-September). It's Lemaire style but at Uniqlo prices - what's not to love? This trench coat is the most recent Uniqlo U piece to enter my wardrobe. It was on sale, the only one left and came in a large, giving it that oversized fit that I love. It's also light and waterproof, so has become my go-to when that chill hits Melbourne or the rain clouds descend on us (yes, unfortunately, it does sometimes rain in Australia). 

*Not an ad or sponsored in any way, just a love letter to Uniqlo, the unsung hero of the high street




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Tuesday, 24 July 2018

A Weekend on the Mornington Peninsula



Dress: Ganni
Trousers: COS
Boots: Dr Martens
Coat: ASOS (similar)

Before arriving in Melbourne and becoming reacquainted with city life, we headed to the Mornington Peninsula for a weekend of food, wine and pure relaxation by the sea. It's the kind of place where you can do a lot or not much at all, and our weekend fell somewhere between the two. 

Like most visitors, our first stop was the Hot Springs, which unfortunately didn't quite live up to our expectations. Admittedly, we didn't pick the best time to go (unbeknown to us, it was school holidays and the place was packed with kids and families. Having to queue up to use the baths, only to have people jumping in next to you and a load of teenagers taking selfies wasn't exactly the peaceful experience I had in mind) so word to the wise: choose an off-peak time to go and opt for the Spa Dreaming Centre rather than the general Bath House. 


Apart from the incredible beaches, the main attraction for us was the wineries that are dotted around the peninsula (and the food, of course - the Winey Cow and D.O.C were our favourites in Mornington). There are loads to choose from and you could probably spend a good week sampling them all but one of the most impressive has to be Port Phillip Estate. 


Architecture fans will love it for its bold, sculptural concrete shape that manages to incorporate both smooth curves and sharp lines, and huge windows that offer unobstructed views of the vineyard below, as well as the sea in the distance. The wine offering is good, as is the food (although a bit on the pricey side - they do a great lunch deal though so go for that if you want to sample the good stuff without spending a huge amount) - my best bet would be to rock up for a tasting at the cellar door and enjoy a glass of your favourite out on the balcony.


Because one winery is never enough, next on our agenda was a visit to Polperro, about a five minute drive down a tree-lined road from Port Phillip Estate. It was a lot smaller and less formal but the perfect place to while away an afternoon. They offer food too, which we didn't try but looked good, and the wine was some of the best Australian wine I've tried since arriving here back in February. Go on a sunny day and plonk yourself on one of the deck chairs overlooking the vines (they provide blankets in winter), or go to the intimate cellar door for tastings. 


Pictured: Port Phillip Estate 






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Friday, 6 July 2018

Carriageworks, Sydney



Dress: COS
Ring: COS
Bag: MM6 Maison Margiela (in black)
Shoes: Zara 

We're fully into winter in Australia now (although at 14 degrees and bright sunshine most days, it certainly isn't winter as I know it) and we're about to move to Melbourne - Sydney was our original plan but having spent our time so far travelling around (some of) the country, we've decided that Melbourne is going to be a better fit in terms of job opportunities, living costs and, well, the food and coffee options are second to none. 


I'm excited to truly get to know the city - there seem to be a lot of exciting events coming up in the next few months and there are some local brands that I'm ready to spend some serious dollar on. That's not to say I still don't love Sydney though, and I'm looking forward to having some weekends up there. These snaps are from a couple of months ago (yup, my blog updates have been a little s l o w of late) when we spent the day at Carriageworks, an arts centre that's home to exhibitions, a farmer's market, events and the like, plus it plays host to some of the shows during fashion week. 




The building itself is a mix of a former railway carriage and blacksmith workshops, and that industrial nature has been retained in much of the redevelopment - expect lots of concrete, big open spaces, plenty of steel and original features. 


I wore a white COS dress that ended up becoming one of my go-tos during the balmy Sydney autumn - simple and light, but with slightly voluminous sleeves that fought off the chill that arrived come sundown. All in all, worth the trip if you're ever in Sydney (plus it's free and there's a great little cafe). Take a look at what's on at the Carriageworks website and stay tuned for Melbourne finds. 







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Wednesday, 6 June 2018

A Travel Guide to Byron Bay


The Pass

During our five week road trip up Australia's east coast, one of my favourite (if not the favourite) stops was Byron Bay. It had pretty much everything I look for in a relaxing beachside spot: a beautiful unspoilt coastline; an abundance of great cafes, bars and restaurants; independent shops; and a completely unique personality. We stayed for four days which would suit a great little mini break, but you could probably stay for a couple of weeks if you wanted more of a holiday.

Hat: ASOS
Biki: Solid & Striped
Dress: Mango
What to Do 


Main Beach
One of the best things about Byron Bay (for me) was how laid back it was, forcing (yes, forcing) you to do not a lot but relax on one of the many beaches, swim in the sea and try out a bit of surfing. There's Main Beach at the top of the main street, which although has great views of the sea and distant mountains, can get a bit busy so keep on walking until you reach Clarkes Beach for a less crowded spot. Along from Clarkes is The Pass, which is popular with surfers, while further around the coast lies Wategos and Little Wategos beaches which are smaller and less spacious but still beautiful. There are a few more too that we didn't have time to visit, but would be well worth exploring.



One rare day when we weren't on the beach, we made our way to the Arts and Industry Estate just behind Belongil Beach. It was a bit of an odd place - half car mechanics and industrial park, half hidden gems of shops and coffee shops. One such gem was Comma, a small modern day spa tucked away in minimal, laid back, heaven. The space was full of neutral shades, raw concrete and touches of natural wood, making it look more like a stylish interiors store than a spa - and all the better for it. There are a few different treatments on offer depending on what you're after but I can guarantee that you will have one of the best spa experiences you've ever had. Plus, there's a coffee shop outside serving Allpress coffee and the Stone & Wood brewery across the way which offers tours and tastings.

Comma

Comma

Comma

Where to Eat and Drink




A quick walk around Byron Bay and you'll soon fall over the many cafes, bars and restaurants that line the streets. Of course, we didn't have time to sample them all but these were some of our favourites:

Bayleaf Cafe, 2a Marvell Street - This was actually recommended to me by Brittany Bathgate and soon became a firm favourite. The food was delicious, the atmosphere relaxed and unpretentious, and the coffee (of course) impeccable. This place is popular but you shouldn't have to wait too long for a table - if you do though. it's worth the wait. Beware though, it shuts at 2.30pm.

Byron Fresh, 7 Jonson Street - Another cafe just minutes from Main Beach, which is open from breakfast through until dinner. We stopped in for lunch one day and ended up going back almost every day to buy pastries (they're freshly made each day and all go down to $3 after 5pm).

The Mez Club, 85-87 Jonson Street - It was my birthday while we were in Byron and this was the restaurant we chose to spend the evening in. Mediterranean-inspired, it has great mezze share plates (I'd recommend getting a load of these rather than opting for the main dishes) in a white-washed, rattan-filled space.

Miss Margarita, 2 Jonson Street - This Mexican spot always had a queue of hungry punters outside the doors and while we didn't go, I'm told it's worth the hype...think nachos, burritos and cocktails in a colourful cantina. 

Where to Shop


ST. AGNI

One of the great things about Byron for me was the number of independent boutiques. You won't find many on the main street but walk through the side streets and you'll stumble across a lot of gems. Citizen Nomade (1/30 Fletcher Street) was a standout for me, full of simple, floaty linen pieces you'll want to fill your holiday wardrobe with.

ST. AGNI Yuka Slides

Back to the Arts and Industry Estate and you'll find Design Twins, a furniture and homeware store filled with pieces from Australian designers and ST. AGNI, which has the best selection of handmade leather flats and sandals I've seen in a long time (also available on Net-A-Porter). Just behind the estate is Habitat, a live/work/dine/retail space which is also well worth a visit - here you'll find clothing and homeware stores filled with a carefully selected range of brands and one-off collaborations.

Shirt and Trousers: Oysho




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