Melbourne label combines heritage and Hollywood glamour

Secondhand clothes on a rack. Photo: Markus Spiske (CC-CC0 1.0)

Young creatives in Melbourne are producing a new means of expression through the self-creation of fashion labels.

They’re venturing into fashion through social media, with the rise of visual-based apps becoming popular in creating fashion content.

TikTok in particular, has made a space for fashion to be used personally and creatively, with its video-focused features and hashtags.

The hashtag #MelbourneFashion generated more than 16 million views on the app, and continues in popularity, proving the fashion wave is alive and well.

Instagram, another visual-based app, is also commonly used by young creatives, with its photo-focused features.

The outlook for fashion in Melbourne is also expanding through a variety of styles, as people find varied ways to represent themselves.

For youth, it’s in the expression as well as decentralisation.

In the outskirts of Melbourne, goth, streetwear, and vintage are among the styles popularised in recent months.

Melbourne fashion labels have come to produce a strong association to, and for, youth.

HoMie, founded in 2015 by Nick Pearce, Marcus Crook, and Rob Gillies, is a Melbourne-based streetwear brand, that not only functions as a clothing site, but also supports young people in Melbourne experiencing homelessness.

Its vision to support the youth of Melbourne allowed them to have a distinct brand.

Other local brands also have their own means to stand out like Mr Winston which sparked hype among female teens in early 2020.

Ella Davidson, along with her mother, Karen, founded the label in 2017 and it achieved widespread popularity in 2020.

Davidson says she wanted to make garments she couldn’t find, but wanted to buy.

HoMie, and Mr Winston are just few of the Melbourne-based labels created as a form of youth expression.

Elisabeth Cassar, a 21-year-old fashion design student from RMIT University, had a similar vision when she created her own label, Elisabetta.

Her brand draws inspiration from high-end fashion labels such as Vogue, Chanel, and Christian Dior.
Cassar found her forte in fashion from her mother, who often made clothing for her.

She recounts her experiences as a young teen rummaging through Vogue magazines, where her interest grew stronger.

“I become mesmerised by various designers including Chanel, Christian Dior and Dolce and Gabbana,” she says.

“Seeing feminine, classical designs within the pages of Vogue gave me a greater passion for fashion.”

With the advancements of social media, there is no doubt that the youth of Melbourne are on board.
Cassar explains how social media played a major role in launching Elisabetta, and in her studies as a fashion student.

“Social media has been at the forefront of my label as it’s where I’m able to reach my audience,” she says.

“I believe it’s a great tool to have, alongside my fashion label as it enables me to share my creations with the world.”

Cassar uses Instagram as her main source for Elisabetta, and believes its features are perfect for young fashion lovers in Melbourne.

She plans to open a TikTok account, to promote her label further.

In February 2021, a study by eSafety Research found 57% of Australian teens were actively using Instagram, making it one of the top social media service in the country.

Its popularity with young Australians has given creatives access to a wider audience, expanding the fashion market.

In 2020, outbreaks of covid-19 also fuelled a surge in social media usage, which included young people starting their independent clothing labels, as Cassar did the previous year.

Her work delves into familial elements, and her interest in Hollywood glamour fashion.

She wanted these personal aspects about herself to be reflected in Elisabetta.

“It’s heavily inspired by the celebration of the beauty of family heritage, intersected with a contemporary view of classical Hollywood glamour couture fashion,” she says.

Like many other young Melbournians, Cassar indulged in the phenomenon of self-expression, and found a purpose through her label.

Melbourne isn’t known for just its coffee and arts scene but its youth culture in which self-made fashion thrives and where young people use fashion as a means of identity.