Meet the Maker: Melanie Clements, Designer Le Stripe
Team Buy Aussie Now
This story was written by several Buy Aussie Now team members.
Le Stripe has never set out to slavishly follow the trends and seasons, instead emphasising that good design will endure.
Local fashion label, Le Stripe, never set out to slavishly follow the trends and seasons, instead emphasising that good design will endure.
While producing in Melbourne has meant cult-fashion brand Le Stripe have produced smaller runs of clothing, this has also made it a covetable must-have among Australia’s style with an air of exclusivity as well as supporting and nurturing the local industry of limited and talented pattern makers, machinists, embroiderers, knitters and screen printers.
Designer Melanie Clements is passionate about a rewiring of the fashion industry, pushing for more sustainable and ethical practices as well as advocating for changes to the seasonal fashion calendar and sale cycles.
Tell us a little about your business?
Le Stripe started from a desire to reconnect with the local makers here in Melbourne (after working for big retailers for many years) and to create clothing that is not mass produced but clothing that is beautifully made and tells a story. Le Stripe is mindful in its creation, consciously producing small amounts to avoid the constant cycle of mark downs and landfill, and made by ethically accredited manufacturers mainly here in Melbourne and where possible made using recycled materials and trims.
Le Stripe also aims to be uniquely identifiable through a strong play on colour and print which changes dramatically each season but is always born out of the same sense of fun and spirit and the desire to make the wearer feel fabulous.
How did you start your homegrown business?
Le Stripe started four years ago after I left Country Road (after 10 years as a designer) and having the time to think about what was needed in the marketplace and what sat well with me personally. I still run it from my home office as it gives me the flexibility I want with three children and trying to strike that work/life balance. A lot of time and energy initially went into finding local fabric suppliers and manufacturers whom I could work closely with and whom I trusted to make my clothing to the highest possible quality standard.
What inspires you?
Colour always inspires me. I love change – after all that is what fashion is all about. I also love art and print and patterns. I am constantly inspired by past decades that saw new proportions and fresh ideas enter fashion – in particular the 70s and 80s. I love looking at the iconic designers of these times and being inspired by their glamorous— and often sport-inspired— take on fashion.
What are the benefits of manufacturing locally?
The beauty of manufacturing locally is the ability to change your designs at the last minute or be reactive to new trends and changes in the marketplace. Another thing I love about local manufacturing is meeting with people ‘face to face’ instead of just by email. I love talking with them, getting to know them and feeling like we are all in this together and motivated by the same goal – to keep manufacturing here in Australia alive.
What makes the Australian consumer unique?
The Australian fashion consumer is absolutely spoilt for choice. They are also completely fashion informed and aware. We are often now a ‘season’ ahead of our international competitors and can be the first to wear a new emerging trend. We are also often the first to become completely ‘over a trend’ or ‘saturated’ by a trend. Australian consumers recognise authenticity, and more and more are demanding something unique and consciously made.
What is the best business advice you have ever received?
If you fail, try again – nobody succeeded by not being tenacious.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in business?
Cash flow – it is unfortunately a constant problem getting paid in a timely manner.
What has been your positive takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Customers are more and more aware of local brands and wanting to support them.
Do you keep your vegemite in the fridge or pantry?
One in both – a jar on the go and one in reserve.
Which classic Aussie song would you perform at karaoke?
Anything by the Divinyls
Checkout Le Stripe for unique garments made with love and care in Melbourne, Australia.