Each month we celebrate an emerging Aussie designer. This month we chat with Perth-based Mallory Maduka-Ike from MKO Designs about her inspirations, the launch of her new website and INTERLOCKED collection.
After winning a Curtin University competition Mallory enjoyed a year-long mentorship programme with iconic shoe designer Jimmy Choo. Mallory flew to Malaysia and spent a month with the famous designer, learning everything she could about running a fashion business, both on a professional and personal level.
Tell us about yourself and how you came to be interested in design
I’m half Indian and half Nigerian and moved to Perth, Australia with my family in 1999. We lived with my grandparents, uncles and aunties. My grandma was the first person who inspired me to design as she taught me how to sew. My grandfather from my father’s side who is Nigerian taught me how to braid hair, so inspiration came from both sides of my family. I started making clothes for my dolls when I was little and it developed from there. I still love creating and designing now at 27 years old.
My training’s consisted of 2 years at Challenger TAFE and 3 years at Curtin University. My fashion course had both theory and practical training. I learned my pattern making skills in TAFE and conceptual designing in University. I’m grateful to my lecturers and teachers who taught me the skills I have now: people like Julie Calabrese from both TAFE and University as well as the head of Fashion Anne Farren.
I’ve always been really interested in the universe and astronomy, especially in high school. But due to my love of fashion, creating, knitting and crochet, I decided to pursue a career in fashion. Astronomy is still a love of mine, but at the moment it’s just a hobby.
Who’s your typical MKO woman and what are you aiming to do for her?
I design for women who aren’t afraid of fashion, to be different and who are creative. My MKO woman is in a creative field and might be a photographer, stylist, painter, artist, or individual with a strong mindset and is young at heart like me. I want my designs to add uniqueness to her daily life and to help her express her creativity.
I have always loved the street aesthetic and vibe, it allows us to show our creativity and personality. I love the mixture of hard and soft, symmetry and asymmetry, masculinity and femininity. I design with this contrast in mind. I find it really interesting and beautiful, as they play off each other creating something truly unique for my MKO women.
How do you source your fabrics?
I tend to source my fabrics online, however I do like to go to actual stores and have a feel around and see what fabric is speaking to me. I go to stores like Spotlight and textiles and home craft stores as well as Bunnings because I also make a lot of my accessories with rope. During my fashion studies at Curtin University, I won an award for Innovation for my use of rope in my graduation collection.
We’re really excited about your new website and new collection; we’d love to know more about them.
My website launched in July and is more like a pre-launch to the new collection. The website showcases my previous collections which are now available for purchase. My new collection is called INTERLOCKED which focuses more on my knitwear, mixing that with a street aesthetic. I ‘m using textile manipulations to explore different silhouettes, creating easy and oversized looks for this collection. I wanted to combine different materials like denim, t-shirting, fleece and plastic because I love working with them. This collection is street inspired with an MKO twist. I will be launching the new INTERLOCKED collection at a RAW showcase that I’m doing in September and after the launch it will all be up for grabs on my website so keep a look out.
What are your dreams and future plans for MKO Designs?
My future plans are to grow my label as much as I can, I would like to get MKO Designs to a stable position. I would also love to enter some national and international fashion shows and gain more experience, more customers as well as exposure in different markets. I plant to keep creating and keep the creative juices flowing. As an ultimate goal, New York Fashion Week would be a highlight – if I could get to that point, that would be amazing!
Story: Jacqueline Miholos