Q & A with the Designer Behind Addison Ash
Collen Stewart never set out to be a fashion designer. In fact, her career in design and her label, Addison Ash, came into existence only after a long career in nursing and midwifery. A champion of local fashion labels, Colleen has also opened a retail outlet showcasing local and Australian designers in the heart of Adelaide.
Did you always want to be a Designer?
Being a Fashion Designer was never on my radar. I did Nursing and Midwifery for 29 years and I loved it! In 2004 I started a Fashion Design course to learn how to make my own patterns. I enjoyed it so much that I kept going until I had an Advanced Diploma of Fashion Design. While studying I started sample-making for a local fashion designer and decided to give up nursing. It was during this time I decided to create Addison Ash, and it came to life in 2015.
Describe the appeal of Addison Ash.
I design for women who like to be a little different, comfortable and stand out from the crowd. They may be corporate or business women who need versatile clothing which can be worn to work and then out in the evening afterwards. They like the versatility of being able to to be able to dress up or down for the weekend in those same garments. Addison Ash appeals to women of all ages who are strong and like to feel confident, sexy and feminine without the frills.
What are you inspired by when you design?
So many things, but in general, I am inspired by shapes, colour, contrast and fabric. A lot of my designs are actually inspired by the fabric and the way it drapes on the body. Other main inspirations are sport, architecture, texture and minimalism.
What are your views on Slow Fashion?
I’m very passionate about Slow Fashion and I’ve created Addison Ash to be a quality label which is timeless and durable. Addison Ash has a slow and sustainable approach from fabric manufacture, production through to distribution and points of sale.
You’re involved in selling Addison Ash and other independent fashion labels through boutique retail store 202 Collective. How’d that happen?
202 Collective is a collective of local South Australian and Australian fashion and accessories designers and creatives. It’s main focus is to provide the customer with a curated edit of local designers, handmade garments and products, which are ethically made, Slow Fashion, timeless and of high quality. We also run informative style workshop events and will be incorporating other informative and fun sessions in the boutique in the future.
202 Collective came about when Shiva Novinfar (my business partner) found a Renew Adelaide property and asked me if I’d like to have a retail outlet together for our fashion labels. We wanted to place our labels in a space where they could be seen, touched and tried on by shoppers. It was important to us to help other independent fashion designers and affiliated creatives to have a retail presence. We are passionate about presenting a unique experience to the customer by having the workshops, and making it more of a community, interactive space. Our ideas for 202 Collective are continually evolving.
Have you had challenges?
Addison Ash is easy to create and produce. I love it! I have a feeling most designers would feel the same way. The challenging parts have been time management, balancing home and work life, marketing, accounting, “the business parts”.
202 Collective is interesting. Although I’ve worked in caring and communicating with people for years, working in retail has been a bit of a challenge. At this time we’ve only been open for a few months so we’re learning and developing all the time.
Your proudest achievement so far?
Starting 202 Collective with Shiva has been great and it’s another step toward my overall goal! There’s not any one thing I’m most proud of. I just love putting smiles on women’s faces and help them to feel strong, sexy and confident and at their best.
What’s next for Addison Ash and 202 Collective Boutique?
I’m working to change the Addison Ash fabrication to be as sustainable as possible. Sourcing ethically made fabrics is a challenge and it’s going to take a while, but that’s the direction Addison Ash is headed. Also, I’ll be designing more event and evening wear. I even have plans to incorporate menswear a little further down the track.
202 Collective is continuously evolving. Right now we are focusing on building a website for 202 Collective, which will be great for interstate and overseas customers and followers on social media. We are constantly sourcing more local and ethically made labels. As well as fashion and accessories we’ll include giftware and possibly even some local art. We will be hosting more workshops with a variety of businesses. Stay tuned into our social media to find out more. We can’t wait to see all this develop!