Bucking industry trends
Melbourne tailor Aki Economou believes Australians will come back to home-grown quality
Melburnian tailor Athinodoros "Aki" Economou has been in the rag trade for 30 years.
His company; shirting manufacturer Texas Lake, may just be one of the last quality, local makers left.
Over the years Economou has made garments for Country Road, Jag, Satch, Gripp, Saba, and currently his clients include boutique brands such as Scanlon&Theodore, Laura Ashley, Nobody, Griffin and Roy.
However, most of the brands, which once produced their garments on Aussie soil have since shifted offshore, Economou says.
"It's extremely difficult for local manufacturers," he says. "I made for Country Road in the 80s then they moved overseas, I made for Saba before they went overseas; everything's made overseas now." Economou once produced all the racing car gear for the touring cars and some of the Grand Prix cars, as well as all the AFL uniforms and merchandise, all of which is now made overseas.
Independent manufacturers can't compete with overseas rivals and their lower production costs, Economou insists. "You've just got to try and get little bits and pieces from smaller boutiques and things like that," he says.
Economou was born into a family of tailors with his parents opening the family business two days before he was born. Economou's father has been in the business for 45 years, and while he passed it over to his son in 1991, he still comes in and remains involved. It was inevitable that fashion would be Economou's future.
"I followed my parent's footsteps. I didn't go to fashion school, I learnt it all from my parents. When you've got the best people around you, you don't need to go to school," he said.
While admitting the art of tailoring is dying out in Australia, Economou insists that overseas it's flying high. "It'll pick up here," he says.
Economou imports most of his fabrics from Italy, though some locally as well as some cottons from Egypt and linens from Ireland.
He says buying at boutiques means investing in quality. "If you want to spend a bit more and buy something that will be really good and last a long time: go to a boutique," he says. Spending less on garments from chain stores, and not even much less, Economou is quick to point out, generally just means poorer quality and that the company is making higher profit. "They get products for $9 or $10 and sell them for $200 or $250," he says.
"When you go into [my] store you'll buy a shirt or blouse and it'll last you six, seven, eight years. If you buy one from Myers that's imported it'll last you just a season; you're not going to wear it again next year. I've had complaints from people that the shirts I make never wear out and the customers keep coming back wearing the same shirts!"
While shoppers are happy to make one-season purchases on trend items, Economou says consumers want longevity when it comes to wardrobe staples. "When you buy a business shirt you want it for a long time, not just one season," he says.
Economou's company Texas Lake specialises in mens and ladies business and casual shirts. The labels he produces for come to him for better quality and a quicker turnaround, Economou says. "With me they can get their garments quicker, they can change their minds, it's very easy to walk in here and say what you want, they have a lot of freedom in that respect, whereas if you're producing overseas usually you have to make thousands of them and generally the makers will tell you it's not going to look like this, it's going to look the way we decide."
In a trend forecast for next season, Economou says consumers will be spoilt for choice. "You've got just about everything, you've got checks, stripes, things with detailing, pockets, roll up sleeves, there's a lot of prints, and then other things that are completely plain. There's a bit of everything".
Texas Lake, based in Abbotsford, in Melbourne's Eastern suburbs, also produce garments for labels in Britain and Quebec. "We do just about everybody," Economou says. "We've been very, very busy for the last 12, 13 years and this year has just died because they've all gone overseas to save money".
Many local manufacturers have gotten out of the business or sent their sewing machines overseas, Economou says, however, he is confident that the tide will turn.
"The reports I've heard are that the shirts are no good; people will come back to quality".
Texas Lake opens up its studio doors to the public every Saturday for clothing sales and traditional Greek souvlakis cooked on site.
So wander down and peruse the hand-made wares and sample the home-made delicacies.
Located at 76-78 Nicholson St, Abbotsford, from 10am-5pm each Saturday.
- Register Now
- Modern Greek tragedy
- Court orders Greek broadcaster ERT back on air
- Community condemns ERT closure
- Abusive crackdown on migrants
- Outstanding Greek Australians honoured
- Memories of an Egyptian multicultural society
- Xenophon warns of data sweep danger
- The thief strikes back
- ERT's demise impacts SBS
- Pandazopoulos gets marching orders
- 28 May 2013 | 17 Votes
- 10 Jun 2013 | 17 Votes
- 22 May 2013 | 16 Votes
- 30 May 2013 | 12 Votes
- 7 Jun 2013 | 7 Votes
- 11 Jun 2013 | 7 Votes
More from this Section
- The thief strikes back
- The model effect
- Daydream believer
- Stylish and ecological
- Katrantzou fashion walks in Melbourne
- Tiffany & Co find inspiration in ancient Greece
- A new lease on life
- Greek Australian designer front row at US fashion week
- The ghostly designs of Strateas.Carlucci
- H & M set to open in Melbourne
Expectations are high for the first NSL derby of the season, with South Melbourne hosting Melbourne Knights
Award-winning pastry chef Anna Polyviou will be taking over as the new executive pastry chef at Sydney's Shangri-La Hotel
It's make or break for the Socceroos, with favourites Japan just needing a draw to qualify
Will the decision to close ERT bring down the Samaras government in Greece?
The Round Eight of VPL brings the exciting encounter of the top two on the ladder, when unbeatable Northcote City hosts a confident Bentleigh Greens
Latest figures show five-fold increase in Greeks studying in Australia
Star of The Hangover trilogy Zach Galifianakis has announced he wants to make a movie about the Battle of Crete
Year 11 student Maria Anamourlis has been elected as a Youth Parliamentarian in the Greek Parliament.
Greek canoeing champion Andreas Kiligkardis died last Wednesday after losing his battle against leukemia.
Labor MPs furious over Premier's response to ambos delay
Dora Kitinas-Gogos finds out the food secrets - and lifestyle choices - of a long life on the island of Ikaria
On the occasion of the Commemoration of 72nd Anniversary of the Battle of Crete, the Deputy Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (HNDGS)
Civil service sackings among outstanding issues as troika returns to Greece for review
The second of four HACCI Business Forums for 2013, with the topic Clean Energy Future - The Carbon Price and what it means for Small Business, will be held
Over 60 students and teachers were the recipients of Excellence Awards for their contribution in the ongoing education of Greek language history and culture
The Greek festival is of great cultural and economic importance to the city of Sydney, says Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
A political row over how to tackle a rise in racist attacks intensified this week after the two junior partners in the coalition, PASOK and Democratic Left (DIMAR)
But the goalkeeper won't join the A-League anytime soon