Spotlight on Sara Bailes

Quilted bomber jackets, slouchy jumpsuits and floaty midi dresses – Melbourne designer Sara Bailes’ first couple of collections under her new eponymous label seem designed for maximum comfort with a dash of panache. And you can feel good about wearing them, too. Designed in Melbourne and produced in Bali, the range features locally sourced fabrics, in-house prints and a bunch of natural fibres, including cotton blends, linen and 100% bamboo. Sara knows her stuff – she clocked up almost a decade as a fashion designer with Karen Walker and then Gorman before going solo last July. She chose Bali as her manufacturing base after an Indonesian fashion industry friend hooked her up with local indie suppliers skilled in traditional techniques. Her small production team is made up entirely of Balinese women, while printing happens from a small, family-owned factory which uses hand screen printing techniques, hand dyeing and mostly natural dyes and inks. It does mean a lot more toing and froing because, unlike places such as China and India, Bali suppliers aren’t set up to handle all phases of garment making in the one factory. But Sara reckons that’s a plus – “It eliminates sweatshop conditions in which women are forced to repetitively make a single element for days on end. It also means I am personally very involved in the production process and spend a lot of my time visiting small specialty shops in the back streets of Denpasar on my scooter using my best Bahasa – which needs a lot of work – to try and get what I need!” she says. And in good news for the fellas, Sara’s introducing menswear pieces from 2016. Check it all out here.