Saturday, June 10, 2023

Adelaide Fashion Designers Blazing a Trail

Designer Labels Stand Out

If fashion had a hall of fame for new trailblazers, there are three Adelaide fashion designers who would stand out. Tiffany Besir, Stephanie Chehade, and Natalie Ivanov are three young women who are the heart and soul of their own fashion labels. Each of these Adelaide fashion designers is well-trained, multi-skilled, and personally responsible for every facet of their fashion businesses. Ethical and sustainable Australian production is big on their radar.

There’s a ton of work and many hours to put in to grow your own fashion label from scratch. Each day requires plenty of know-how across a broad skill set with so many demands that it can be hard to know where to start.

The three Adelaide fashion designers all made their start after studying the Advanced Diploma in Fashion Design and Technology at TAFE SA. They say that it equipped them as the “Jills-of-all-Trades” they’ve each become, enabling them to launch and grow their businesses.

Tiffany Besir of Millicent Elizabeth

Adelaide Designer Tiffany Besir

Tiffany Besir, Creative Director behind Millicent Elizabeth, launched her label before she completed her TAFE SA course.

When and how did you make your start?
When I realised in my first fabrics and fibres class what I wanted to achieve. The class was inspirational. It really opened my eyes on what amazing natural fabrics were out there and their amazing properties and how little was available. So I had the idea of my 100% Natural Fibres brand from the first year.

Describe your fashion journey in three words.
Perspiration, Persistence, Elation.

Fashion Label Millicent Elizabeth

In your first year, how many hours a week were you putting in? Now?
In my first year it was a struggle with my course, working part-time and my label. Now I work anywhere from 25 hours up to 50 hours a week depending on the time of year and where we are in the season.

In the beginning, how often if ever, did you fall back on your training? Are there any areas where you still fall back on your training?
TAFE SA was and is essential in helping me succeed in the business of fashion. It helped not only with the creation of garments and collections but also with the business essentials of pricing, marketing, law.  These laid the foundations for me to build from.

Millicent Elizabeth fashion label

What makes Millicent Elizabeth different to other fashion labels in your space?
We are solely a 100% natural fibre brand made in Australia. Millicent Elizabeth focuses on sustainable fibres that are renewable and naturally biodegradable. That means they reduce landfill. There are plenty of organic cotton brands however cotton uses vast quantities of water and is only really a summer weight fabric. Millicent Elizabeth focuses on trans-seasonal fabrics of silk and wool as they are natural insulates so are great for both summer and winter.

You’ve been described as a “Jill-of-all-Trades.” Explain.
Being a small business owner you must be happy to jump in and get stuck in at any level of the business. That is, administration, packing orders, customer service, pattern making, and designing. You must be able to adapt to any situation. To be able to expand your business you also have to be able to teach anyone else the basics.

Adelaide Fashion label Millicent Elizabeth

What do you love about being a Fashion Designer?
I love creating beautiful sustainable Australian made fashion that women love. The following feedback epitomizes the joys of owning my own label. “The gorgeous dress arrived today. It fits perfectly! Thank you for getting the female form and making a beautiful piece that’s ethically and sustainably informed as well as stylish and makes me feel beautiful.”

Greatest Positives in the last 12 months?
Being part of the Australian Fashion Council’s Curated program has been one the best things I have ever done. I’ve meet some amazing businesswomen from around the country who have taught me so much!

Millicent Elizabeth the label

Greatest Success So far?
Although I’ve been in many runway shows including AFF, MFW and VAMFF, I would say my greatest success is seeing customers’ joy, appreciation and their love of my product as much as I do. There is nothing quite like getting an amazing review from a customer.

Favourite Thing About Having Your Own Label?
The breadth of the role you play in the business, the hands-on approach and the continual learning.

Check out more fashion on Millicent Elizabeth, or follow on Instagram.

Stephanie Chehade

Stephanie ChehadeStephanie Chehade launched her self-named label in 2014, three years after graduating.

Describe your fashion journey in three words.
Perseverance, Passion, Commitment.

 In your first year, how many hours a week were you putting in?  Now?
In the beginning it was more of a hobby or creative outlet so I didn’t consider what I was doing as work. When I first started, I was the one designing, patternmaking, sewing and so on. Now, I outsource some of those roles to allow me to focus on other areas of the business. It’s not a 9-5 job though, especially with social media playing such an important role.

In the beginning, how often if ever, did you fall back on your training? Are there any areas where you still fall back on your training?
The training I received from TAFE SA was very valuable, in particular patternmaking and garment construction. Even if I am not physically putting that into practice every day, having that understanding is crucial in the early design and sample making process.

Adelaide Fashion Label Stephanie Chehade

What makes STEPHANIE CHEHADE different to other fashion labels in your space?
I design luxe wardrobe essentials for the contemporary woman, all made here in Australia. The focus is on quality not quantity. My capsule collections are made up of pieces that are unique and timeless but still current. The idea is that each collection builds on from the previous one and the aim is for my customers to create their own unique STEPHANIE CHEHADE Wardrobe.

 You’ve been described as a “Jill-of-all-Trades”. Explain.
My current roles within the brand include designing, fabric sourcing, fittings at the sampling stage and overseeing manufacturing here in Australia. I also take care of the day-to-day aspects of the business, such as website design & maintenance, fulfilment of online orders, ordering of all packaging supplies, creating social media content and responding to any customer queries.

Stephanie Chehade's fashion label is one of 3 stand out Adelaide Fashion Designers

What do you love about being a Fashion Designer?
I design clothes that I want to wear. I have always had a great interest in fashion and have my own unique style. Seeing other women appreciate that style makes it even more enjoyable and worthwhile.

Greatest Positives in the last 12 months?
2019 started with a bang. I opened my first Pop Up store in Brisbane followed by another in Adelaide and travelled to Austin, Texas for their Fashion Week, all in a matter of 6 weeks.

Stephanie Chehade is one of 3 stand out Adelaide fashion designers
Greatest Success So far?
I have had many proud moments over the years, but if I had to choose one, it would be showcasing my first Ready-to-Wear collection in New York Fashion Week. That was something that I thought would only ever be a dream, but to see that dream become a reality was a very gratifying experience and one I will never forget!

Favourite Thing About Having Your Own Label?
Having the opportunity to express myself creatively and fulfil a childhood dream.

Check out more of Stephanie’s designs on her website, or follow on Instagram.

Natalie Ivanov of Re-Swim Club

Natalie Ivanov is not only the creative behind slow fashion label RE-Swim Club, but is also one of the Adelaide fashion designers behind Adelaide’s SLOW Fashion Festival and movement and now also lectures in fashion design at TAFE SA. She describes Re-Swim Club as her side project and part of her mission to reduce waste in the fashion industry.

Natalie Ivanov's label - Re-Swim Club

Describe your fashion journey in three words.
Can’t Please Everyone.

In your first year, how many hours a week were you putting in?  Now?
Re-Swim Club is a side project. At the start yes, I was putting in quite a few hours.  I had stock to sell and I had to cut and sew each piece. Nothing I do is outsourced. Right now, I have ceased production until my current pieces are bought.  I have made this decision because I do not want to contribute to what I see is the problem with the fashion industry right now.

Natalie Ivanov's slow fashion label Re-Swim Club What makes Re-Swim Club different to other fashion labels in your space?
My label is all hand cut and hand sewn by me. Each piece is unique based on the fabric I have at the time.  It is made entirely from off-cuts, remnants, deadstock meaning that I have not created any new textiles.  On the rare occasion that I do purchase a new fabric, I only use Econyl, a recycled fabric.

What do you love about what you do?
I love getting hands-on and teaching people new skills and little tricks of the trade.  I have received such incredibly positive feedback from the students.  I’m teaching them something that they may have not done before.  Many of them have never used a sewing machine or an industrial sewing machine. I show them how to thread it and use the machine, how to sew and control the machines. We are also teaching them pattern making.

Stand Out Adelaide Fashion Designers is Re-Swim Club

You’ve been described as a “Jill-of-all-Trades”. Explain.
I have skills as a cutter and machinist, I am a pattern and sample maker. Extremely confident in what I do, I am good at (it)… and I love sharing my skills with people and teaching others how to sew.

Greatest Positives in the last 12 months?
Getting a job at TAFE SA teaching in the Fashion Department.  I hope that this will allow me to share my interest in sustainable, ethical, environmentally conscious fashion.

One of the Adelaide fashion desginers behind SLOW fashion, Re-Swim Club

Greatest Success So far?
SLOW Fashion Festival 19 has been one of our greatest successes so far.  I also find successes in my day to day activities. Working in a sewing workroom, I have become so aware of the waste that the fashion industry produces. I make it my mission to reduce that waste stream and come up with techniques and ways to do things differently at work.

Favourite Thing About Having Your Own Label?
My favourite thing about having my own label is sharing it with my friends.   I also like that my label is all made from off cuts and deadstock so I am not creating new textile recourses from the environment.

Check out Re-Swim Club on Instagram right here.


To see more trailblazing Adelaide fashion designers, check out The Rising Stars of Fashion.




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