It is hard to know what lies ahead in the current climate. How do you plan ahead when conditions and regulations are changing at a fast pace. Neos Kosmos is approaching people of influence in their fields to understand from them how things will play out. The uncertainty is everywhere but people are working hard and finding ways through the new Covid-19 landscape that may help others.
“From where I stand, I don’t know where I stand,” laughs fashion designer and illustrator Estelle Michaelides. But she is making a plan and she is seeing a way to hold on.
Ms Michaelides says she has been fortunate in that her clothing is made locally and her product sells online. She is able to work from her Fitzroy studio. Most of her work, including her fashion label Mickey in the Van, has sold online so that her sales have been steady through this crisis.
Twenty years experience on her own and growing up under her father have given her a strong grounding in the ways of the fashion world and that is a firm platform for the murky waters we are in.
“I have had to be savvy and up my game. I had a good look and changed my business model to suit the surroundings. Like a chameleon,” she said.
Her approach to fashion has always been dictated not so much by the fashion season as by the dictates of her own vision.
“The industry has been consumed by mass production and the big companies. Mine is “slow fashion” based on instinct and that has earned the respect of my clients. I do not follow trends.
“I draw my inspiration from all my surroundings, I can draw it from a tree that I see or from a conversation I will have had with someone. I do not go online to see what other designers are doing.”
And online is where her business has been flourishing. For all the obstacles that Covid-19 has forced on us and how we work, Ms Michaelides has been able to keep going.
“Most of my sales are through Instagram,” she says. Right now the high-end fashion products are not doing well. But what is doing well is her leisure wear range.
“With people working from home, they want to get dressed up in leisure wear, it is more reasonably priced (than high-end fashion).”
“So I am more focused towards casual and leisure wear but it is high quality and it is locally made. It is working and in a strange twist, business is okay,” she said.
The one benefit of the current situation she says that people are becoming more interested in locally made products and is a very good thing that bodes well for the future beyond Covid-19. Ms Michaelides has long been a champion of local manufacturing.
“I choose to look at brighter days ahead, rather than the rush. This is a time to be creative. I will challenge this and beat it.
“I have to look at this and change. Thank goodness we were mostly working online already. My pattern maker works from home and we have been smart in our approach in how to deal with all this.”
She also relied on her mailing list and was constantly keeping in touch with her clientele through regular mail outs.
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When this is over I am planning to have social gatherings with clients, soirees that will bring people back. It will be a time to celebrate.
“I want to work with other designers and artisans so that we can be a stronger force. I design my own fabrics and may even bring out my own bags,” she says. The current situation has taught her that collaborating with others may be the way in future.