Lust-have labels with a conscience: meet the Village’s new store selling style with substance.
Words: Georgia Rickard
Stepping into The Designer Edit is a little like slipping into a lovely, warm bath. Accessorised with pretty, tasteful flower arrangements, and fabrics as light and airy as bubbles, this beautifully lit space hints at the same sense of comfort you get from a nice, long soak – except here, you might just snag a bargain.
Stocking luxury brands such as Brax, Visage, M.E.L and Luxe Deluxe, this brand-new addition to the St Ives Shopping Village is already proving a hit. But the idea for the store came about in a rather different environment.
“Two and a half years ago I took a trip to Cambodia,” says the storeowner. “We drove past a crowd of young adults and I asked our tour guide, ‘is there a university around here?’”
Unfortunately, it turned out the young group was not full of privileged university students but factory workers, who spend their days creating clothing for some of the world’s largest fashion brands in appalling conditions.
“These young people get paid US$130 a month to work twelve hours a day, six days a week, making clothing for brands we all know and wear, in tin sheds we wouldn’t store animals in. When they rallied for a $30 pay raise three years ago, some of them were shot. It was incredibly distressing to see.”
The Designer Edit was created as an ethical alternative to such fast fashion. “Just like the slow food movement, we believe in slow fashion. That means believing in beautiful quality, in buying less items and keep them for longer, in sustainable fabrics and in ethical production. For this reason, most of our brands have their production based in New Zealand or Australia.”
Store manager Jennifer Berry is equally as passionate about the store’s offering. “We offer lots of natural fibres in mainly neutral colours,” she says. “That’s where the store name came from – we really edit designer collections. You’ll only find the pieces that we believe will enhance your life, and then you’ll look good and feel better. And who doesn’t want a bit of cheering up?”
Admittedly, it’s hard not to feel good when you walk into this store. “Our average customer is a youthful baby boomer – she’s travelling, she’s interested in fashion, she’s got a great sense of humour and she’s fairly confident,” says Berry.
You’d want to be confident when you’re purchasing clothes here, she adds. “Our primary brand is Paula Ryan, who is known for her beautiful micro modal jersey separates. You can buy jersey and it will pill in five minutes, but not when you buy Paula Ryan. So I always tell our customers, ‘you better love it – because it’s going to be in your wardrobe for a very long time!’”
Berry’s top five tips for looking well-dressed
- “Invest in great shoes – they’re comfortable and set off an entire outfit.”
- “Consider the 70/20/10 rule for your colour combinations: 70 per cent of your outfit should be one shade, 20 per cent another, and the final 10 should be a splash of colour in a scarf or handbag.”
- “Wear shades that compliment your natural colouring. If you’re dark, darker shades will look better, if you’re blond, lighter shades look better. Any colour that reflects the colour of your eyes will always look fantastic, too.”
- “Wear clothes that fit properly. Anything too tight makes you look like you’ve put on weight and don’t know it, while clothes that are too big make you seem larger than you are.”
- “Never ever shop for ‘this will fit me when I lose weight’. Be happy with how you look now!”