Revolutionary of the Month
Fashion Designer Daphne Wong
We first spotted D-tribe garments being worn in Sydney at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. On a recent trip to Perth, we got to know designer Daphne Wong a little more. After arriving in Perth to study fashion at Curtin University, where she received the X-Press Fashion Award in 2015 for her graduate collection, she decided to stay and launch her own label with sister Denise.
Here’s our Q and A.
When & how did your design journey start?
A Fengshui master visited my house when I was 7. He told my parents that I would be on a creative journey and he recommended that my parents display creative decorations in my bedroom. My parents then sent me to drawing classes, but I didn’t enjoy them. There were rules to follow in how to draw a tree! So I ended up asking my parents to send me to an arts and handcraft class and that’s really where I started to fall in love with art.
We created a lot of amazing artwork in that course and that’s where I designed my first garment. It was for my barbie doll. My parents then started buying me lots of Barbie dolls, not because I loved playing with dolls, but because they were my mannequins.
Since then, I’ve known that I wanted to pursue fashion design and it has never changed.
Describe the D-Tribe aesthetic.
The D in D-Tribe stands for the two sisters behind our label, Denise and Daphne, and for Design.
D-Tribe is not just about fashion. We are a creative hub in that we design and balance between classic and creative looks, so the clothing we produce is neither boring or over-dramatic.
We believe that fashion is a trend but design is timeless. Our designs are inspired by the era, capture the present and embrace the future. There’s no end to creation, but only evolution.
Describe the people who are in D-tribe’s Tribe.
D-Tribe ladies love to dress up! They’re aged between 22 and 65, from all different professional backgrounds like Uni students, lawyers, retail managers, business directors, teachers, property managers and more.
What do you love best about having your own fashion label?
Too much to mention! The whole process of creating a collection, sourcing and choosing fabrics and materials and communicating with our sewers. But the best moment would be when my clients put on my new designs. I love feedback and when they tell me how much they love my new design, it’s very rewarding.
Throw back to 2015 and my fashion graduate runway when all our family and friends came to watch our final show. After the show ends family and friends get to go backstage.
My mum was incredibly excited and my Dad’s eyes were red. My sister told me that the emotion was because I had won one of the awards! All I had seen was my face on a digital screen. After all this time, I can still remember the look on the parents’ faces. It may not be my biggest achievement or even my proudest moment, but it is definitely the most memorable!
What are the biggest influences and inspirations for your designs?
There are too many designs that I like to create and I don’t really want to restrict my designs to a specific style. The inspirations come from everywhere. They can come from an object I’ve seen, a person I met, a building, or even a story I’ve heard. it can be an object I recently saw, a person who I met, a building where I went or a story which I heard.
How many collections a year?
At the moment, it’s two full collections a year for our brand’s ready to wear range. But we also do collaborations with other labels and design uniforms for corporates and sports clubs. We’re currently working with an upcoming street wear label, The Grey Zone.
We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs in sourcing materials and finding manufacturers to work with. I managed to setup our own sewing team back in our hometown in Malaysia and that’s where our garments are made.
The good thing is that we have control over our stock quality and we produce in a very sustainable way, cutting and using materials with the least wastage. That also helps to lower our production costs too. On top of that we also manufacture for other designers in our other business De Haus Manufacture.
What works best for D-Tribe – online or in store?
Both online and bricks-and-mortar stores have worked for D-Tribe at different stages. We started our business with a showroom in North Perth. As a new business that’s not well known, it’s a lot easier to attract people to come try on our designs when there is a space for them to visit. We learned a lot from our customers! We learnt more about our market by communicating directly with our customers. What works and what doesn’t work in our business.
This year we moved out of the showroom and into a private studio. The studio is a space for us to create our designs and meet customers by appointment. At the same time, we are starting to focus on our online store with a better understanding of our business after two years experience.
Describe your latest collection and what makes it so distinctive.
Our latest collection is Up Town Girl. It’s nothing to do with the song from Billy Joel. It’s more about my personal perspective towards how apparel influences your life. Up Town Girl is about the female temperament and the confidence that comes when you dress up for everyday life.
One of our significant designs in this collection is our Versatile Sleeves. These sleeves are separate pieces and removable. They are the best styling item to pair with dresses, tops and jumpsuits in your wardrobe. The sleeve lengths can be adjusted too.