In spite of the crisis, the fashion industry in Greece has seen significant development over the years, with many up and coming designers gaining both national and international recognition.
Greece’s creatives are making waves, presenting the fashion world with original and sometimes innovative ideas, making use of the country’s rich cultural heritage and materials. Athens especially has a wide range of popular homegrown brands to present, as well as a variety of different styles.
A newly opened boutique in the heart of Hughesdale promises to acquaint Melbournian fashionistas to statement labels dominating the Greek market.
Owner Joanna Kouskousis, 48, who was born in Thessaloniki and raised in Australia gave up a successful career in the construction industry to embrace her love for Greek fashion by opening her own store.
“I love Greek fashion,” she tells Neos Kosmos.
“I travel to Greece every year.
“I was a contract manager working predominantly on building sites and I used to easily work 12 to 16 hours a day, six days a week. At some point I thought to myself ‘if I’m going to be working like this, why not do it for me; do something I’m really into?’. And here I am.”
The name Miss Ble Blue is inspired by the colour of the Greek flag and it is a combination of Anglo and Greek cultures. Joanna has always been inspired by the way Greek women dress and express themselves through fashion.
“There is a large Greek population in Melbourne and we pretty much have everything here. The food, the music . . . just not the fashion,” she explains.
“Women in Greece are exposed to more trends, brands, and designers being in Europe. Even amidst the turmoil and financial crisis, they find ways to look good; be creative with accessorising and daring extreme, fierce looks without looking kitsch.”
What Joanna found especially interesting following the latest season trends in Greece was the Hellenic-inspired bohemian looks and the digital Katrantzou-style prints.
“Designers and fashionistas there are more conditioned to include polymorphism. We think we should all look similar here, based on what ‘group’ we want to be part of. Most women, especially my age think they should just wear basic pieces and mainly black.
“In Greece there is so much variety. If a woman has style, she’s hardly ever boring and can switch from minimal to extravagant without fuss. I’m impressed by the sophisticated style of the elegant creations by Greek designers,” she says.
The brands Joanna chose to bring to Melbourne all sport the same special attention to detail, presenting buyers with quality garments at a reasonable price. BSB, Toi Moi, Ale and Attrativo are some of the main household names she selected as a parallel importer, while she is focusing on more up-and-coming smaller brands like Peace & Chaos.
“The fabrics, just the way the prints are placed on a dress; they’re meant to flatter a woman’s body. Some designs are a little bit risque, but it’s a well know brand in Greece and gaining fame overseas, too.
“Peace & Chaos are my best selling label at the moment and it goes to show how much women need that ‘something different’ in their lives. I will go back to Greece in August to bring jeans, bags and shoes as my goal is to give customers more options and showcase economical fashion.”
Even though Miss Ble Blue has only been open for a week, the sales have been steadily increasing with customers of both Greek and non-Greek heritage flooding the boutique to check out and buy the hot pieces.
“Leaving a well-paying job to jump into the fashion world is definitely a risk for me but the support and feedback I have received is encouraging,” Joanna muses.
“I don’t bring in a lot of stock as this is all at an early stage. I am testing the market with selective designs and I have a feeling there is definitely a market for Greek fashion in Melbourne.”
There hasn’t been a day without young women from Greece or Greek Australian girls familiar with Hellenic brands walking into the store, asking for specific styles. Before opening Miss Ble Blue, this would only happen when she or her friends would travel to Greece and come back with a suitcase packed full of clothes and accessories that are not available outside Greece.
“The idea is for me to bring a little bit of Greece here,” she enthuses promising to keep the momentum and merchandise interesting.
“What excites me the most is seeing people of all backgrounds fall in love with these unique designs and through fashion, seeing them become fascinated with Greek culture and style.”
Miss Ble Blue is located at 147 Poath Road, Hughesdale, VIC. For more information, visit facebook.com/MissBleBlu/