My Australian Life: Jason Grech
As told to Ros Reines
From exquisite gowns to cushions and pooch accessories, award-winning Melbourne fashion designer Jason Grech and his toy poodle, Jaxson followed the chic, yellow brick road through the pandemic.
However, at the start, things looked particularly grim. Barely had Grech packed up his glistening collection after showing at `Melbourne Fashion Festival’ (VAMFF) when the city went into the first of its lockdowns. Who would buy his gowns now that a social life was officially off limits?
Grech, who worked and lived in his own warehouse conversion, also felt increasingly isolated and depressed. What to do? Up until this time he’d thought that pivoting was just that little turn that models did on a runway, never dreaming that it would mean finding a new direction for his label.
There was a lot of pain there
We had all these exclusively designed fabrics and I wondered what to do with them. Then the idea came to make cushions and homewares. It was a great to use the fabric the we had in reserve because I wasn’t going to be able to work with it when I released the next collection. You can’t send the same look down the runway twice.
I’d applied to the Victorian Government for a business grant
This helped enormously, as we could purchase sewing machines for our staff to use in their homes, so everyone could keep working and employed. We put the cushions online under the Jason Grech label and it was very successful.
In the second lockdown, I noticed many people out with their dogs when I was with my toy poodle Jaxson.
By this time I’d moved to Sth Yarra, so I could feel more connected and closer to my friends. Soon I was inspired to do Jason Grech Pets, so with our leftover couture fabric, we started doing dog beds, dog leads and dog accessories. This went really well, also on an international scale, which allowed me to be more creative. Now I can offer a mask with a matching dog lead and a dog collar.
I’m still doing my evening wear and bridal
I’m now working on a new evening wear collection but I’m still not sure whether people will be going out or not. So, I’ve created 23 pieces just for fun and for being experimental. This collection is going online in around two weeks.
It’s all made and manufactured in Melbourne
We’ve changed our business structure just a bit to support Melbourne businesses first and Australian businesses second and international businesses third. So that’s what we’re doing and it feels good. Melbourne is still my favourite city in the world. I love bar hopping and cafe hopping and the city’s sense of style.
I was born and bred in this city.
I grew up in St Albans in the Western suburbs where there’s a big Maltese community. My 10 siblings, were all born in our mother country, Malta. I was the only one born here and so there was a lot of pressure on me to do well. One of my first childhood memories was my mum telling me to make her proud. I really hope that I have done that.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books. She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the me