Congratulations to our latest Peppermint Pitch winner Jodie Hilton from co-working fashion studio The New Garde! Jodie shared the concept of The New Garde with us at our PepTalks event in July and was voted the winner of $300 to put towards the business. The New Garde is a unique fashion co-working space located in Newstead, Brisbane, which provides fashion students and graduate and emerging designers with the support, collaborative workspace and professional contacts needed to develop their brands and succeed in the competitive Australian fashion industry. We caught up with Jodie to learn more about this innovative start-up…
Tell us about The New Garde…
We’re a co-working fashion studio with additional hot desks for creatives. The New Garde is open for business in the heart of Brisbane and enables fashion design graduates and emerging designers to secure their own space in one of the city’s newest co-working fashion studios – a unique space that can take a designer from their imagination to the runway and beyond. The New Garde provides fashion-focused students with internship opportunities, and provides graduates and emerging designers with not just a collaborative work space but a vibrant network of fashion specialists (such as pattern-makers, illustrators and machinists) and fashion partners (such as advertising, marketing, graphic designers and accountants). Designers who have long dreamed of creating garments or a label with honesty and quality – made locally but shipped globally – can be assured they will be surrounded by like-minded designers working their way through the same challenges. A designer or small start-up label can become a member, have a permanent desk, collaborate with other designers and engage the in-house sample maker to develop their collections plus have access to mentors, contacts and suppliers. We have freelancers’ hot desks, and these freelancers inevitably work with designers for set tasks such as PR, marketing, photography, accounting – in fact, anyone who takes up a hot desk at The New Garde is of value to the designers at some point. Interns are paired with a designer or specialist to ensure that they earn valid resume-worthy experience, and in 2017 we aim to invite a resident paid intern to the studio.
What was the inspiration behind starting the business?
The idea for The New Garde came from identifying a problem. I studied to be a fashion designer but was uncertain about which department I wanted to be a part of, so I explored options by interning in various areas of fashion. Through fashion magazines (Vogue) I learned about the process of how the fashion team engages with fashion PR companies and designers to pull together photoshoots, and the preparation that goes into each and every page. Then I went onto KitX where I learned about the process a designer takes to ensure materials are sustainable and how to commercialise that process effectively when it comes to working with department stores. At Marcs I learned so much about colour and print and benefitted from the effect of a great corporate culture.
During my time spent interning in Sydney it was the combination of job hunting and interning where I saw the problem – there are significant barriers of entry into the field of fashion for graduates and emerging designers, whether that be a lack of confidence, lack of skills or network. In hindsight, the internships became my way of doing market research. I met many interns who were being churned through internship after internship and weren’t learning, advancing or finding paid work. It was this that led me to creating The New Garde, so that designers can be assured they will be surrounded by other like-minded creatives working their way through the same challenges.
How does The New Garde help to connect designers, students and graduates?
The New Garde offers designers who feel they have to work from home or their garage a one-stop fashion house that also acts as a communal space. This is so important for those who tire of working independently and require networking, experience and the opportunity to foster industry relationships. Being part of The New Garde fashion house means designers can look forward to working on their own designs independently, yet be supported through the hopes, fears and struggles that come with entering the fashion industry.
What’s been a highlight for you since opening the space?
I’ve seen people who were working from home, unmotivated, over-committed and struggling to afford expenses associated with their label sign up to The New Garde and meet a team of people willing to help them with contacts and collaboration. Watching these designers fall back in love with their dream has been pretty special. I feel blessed to know that I’ve played a part in helping to facilitate those dreams.
How do you hope to see The New Garde impact the Australian design industry?
Designers at The New Garde are firmly focused on two things: the future of local makers and manufacturing, and the expansion of their creative network. We value locally made and want to champion anyone linked to fashion, be it illustration to sewing, costings to product development, PR to e-commerce. We have a responsibility to make sure that designers and manufacturers committed to being in Brisbane have the space, the resources and the regulatory environment to operate here. I hope to see The New Garde known as a vibrant hub for fashion specialists and a place where interns can gain resume-worthy experience. This continuous cycle of support will be a strong foundation for a return to quality in the Australian market and a welcome relief from the fast fashion conglomerates.
What’s next for The New Garde?
We have a few big dreams on the way! Recently The New Garde has started a label of the same name that will see new resident designers each season. The entire team will be made up of local students, designers and specialists who are seeking to flex their design muscles in the industry without the need to commit to their own label straight away while they gain experience. This is a true collaboration and I’m excited to see what is produced each season.
PepTalks photos by Cathy Schusler. The New Garde photos by Kiah Lucy.
Have you got a budding idea for a project, social enterprise or creative business you’d like to bring into the world? The Peppermint Pitch is an opportunity to pitch your idea to the audience members at our PepTalks events for the chance to win $300 and begin turning your idea into reality. To enter, simply purchase a ticket to our next PepTalks event on Tuesday the 20th of September in Brisbane and place your name down for the Peppermint Pitch upon arrival.
Three entries will be drawn during the event and asked to present a one-minute pitch to the audience of their idea. Audience voting will take place during intermission and the winner will be awarded $300 and an online interview to help support their project, social enterprise or creative business!