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Beyond the Bale : Apr - May 08
i ñSn'ovOat I on · limited A Australian Wool Innovation Limited WOOLMARK AWl, GPO Box 4177, Sydney NSW 200 I PROFILE Brigid McLaughlin Fashion designer Designer with a passion for 'green' luxury 'From little things big things grow' is a philosophy that has stood Sydney-based fashion designer Brigid McLaughlin in good stead throughout her career. She has enjoyed nurturing fashion labels such as Charlie Brown, Lili, and David Lawrence by developing their style and position in a competitive marketplace through strong wearable designs with an 'edge'. Now Brigid has laid the foundations for her own label, Brigid McLaughlin, which is finding its niche in a fashion world filled with well-resourced competitors with large advertising and promotion budgets. However, she hopes she will be able to find her own competitive edge through her enthusiasm for using wool - which she grew up surrounded by - creatively. Brigid retains strong ties to her family's wool-growing property, 'Merryanbone North', at Nyngan in western NSW - which is today co-managed by her father JA McLaughlin, her brother Jim and his wife Abigail - and this, combined with her knowledge of design and her commitment to Merino wool, has earned her a place on AWl's Next Generation advisory group. Brigid's love of wool and clothing was fostered by her parents from an early age. She recalls her mother taking her to see the history-making Bicentennial Wool Collection event at the Sydney Opera House in I 988. After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts at Sydney University, Brigid followed in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother by studying at East Sydney Technical College, where she majored in fashion design. On graduating she was appointed designer at Charlie Brown and given the opportunity to develop the label and its sister label, Lili, aimed at the younger buyer. Those years of building up labels gave Brigid the background to handle the challenge of creating her own label. Today, doing all her own designing, marketing and business management from a studio in Surry Hills, Brigid creates garments made with natural fibres for women who appreciate good design, garment structure and quality fabrics. "Women who like to look up-to-date without having to chase trends... modern, but timeless, pieces;' Brigid says. "They are clothes people can wear every day and I am very conscious of making sure the ranges work together so something from last year can be worn with something from this year:' The range is sold into boutiques around Australia and internationally, including New Zealand, Indonesia and in the Elizabeth Charles boutiques in New York and San Francisco. While happy to progress steadily, Brigid hopes one day her label will be taken up by a department store, but realises her business would have to change to cope with larger orders and demand for a wider range of garments. In the meantime, she is planning to show at this year's Australian Fashion Week to raise her profile. With most of the garments made in Australia - except the knitwear, which is made in China - Brigid's autumn/winter 2008 collection features Australian Merino wool in coats, jackets, pants and knitwear. The woven fabrics are largely sourced from Japanese and Italian mills, which Brigid says produce a high-quality fabric with a luxurious finish that can be bought in smaller volumes, suiting her production quantities. "The major trend for the last few years has been volume - everything has been big - but this is changing back to structure. It always swings from one to the other;' she says. "Wool is ideal for more structured design, such as fitted tailoring, and this will present a real opportunity for the fibre." There are two other larger consumer trends that will also affect opportunities for wool marketing - the desire for luxury fibres and the environmentally aware consumer. "Wool is a luxury fibre and should be treated as such. With the coming together of Wool mark and AWl hopefully there can be education of the consumer about wool's luxurious properties - how to care for it, how to wear it. If people look after their wool garments they will get years and years of good wear from them, and that also fits with creating a sustainable environment:' Every fashion magazine Brigid picks up talks about organic cotton, and this year she has noticed greater promotion from fabric wholesalers of organic cotton textiles. "I rarely use a synthetic fabric as they are generally not comfortable to wear, especially in the Australian climate, and I firmly believe today's astute consumers are prepared to pay for good quality natural fibres:' From her position within the fashion industry, Brigid is keen to emphasise the opportunities that exist at this point in time to market wool's strong environmental credentials. - KELLIE PENFOLD More information: www.brigidmclaughlin.com. 02 9698 8383 PHOTO: KELLIE PENFOLD Young Australian fashion designer and ambassador for Merino wool Brigid McLaughlin.
Feb - Mar 08
Jun - Jul 08 Supplement