Tell us the journey of Chief Studio.
Chief Studio was born out of frustration and longing for a label that didn’t compromise on sustainability and ethics in fashion. I felt like most brands who were already working towards this catered to creating beautiful basics (t-shirts, underwear, jeans), so for someone like me who dresses in loud prints and bright colours, I couldn’t find a sustainable brand that filled that void. I hope that through Chief Studio I inspire women, and give them the tools to fully express their individuality, letting their distinct points of view shine through.
The name Chief Studio is inspired by my grandmother who was a leader in her Rarotongan community. The stories of her strength and confidence, as well as those of my mother and the women who surround me are what propelled me forward in creating this label. In many ways, I feel like I work in dedication to these women.
What is unique about the fashion industry in Australia and New Zealand in your opinion?
We are small industry and far away from the big players and influencers, which allows us to craft our own unique point of view, one that is very unmistakable on the world stage.
It also means that we must be innovative in the way that we do business and I think it means we must operate in a very forward-thinking, collaborative and practical manner. It is super exciting to be a part of the fashion industry down here for these reasons.
What does slow fashion mean to you and how do you engage in this movement?
Slow fashion means creating less and creating better. For myself, as a designer, it means always keeping the Chief woman in mind, and putting something into this world that will bring her lasting joy, not creating something for my own selfish vision or because I feel pressured to by trends.
The first collection that I am releasing, is comprised of only seven pieces; one shirt, one pant, one skirt, one jacket, one top and two dresses; these styles can be mixed-and-matched and have been carefully considered so that you can use them repeatedly - and have them still feel like new and exciting outfits.
Why is ethical fashion so important?
Buying an item of clothing that is produced in an ethical or sustainable way is like dropping a small stone in to a calm lake; it has a seismic ripple effect that is felt throughout the supply chain and in the global environment.
This is because by buying that item of clothing you are driving demand for innovation, for doing business in a 21st century way and providing a financial justification to better, more accountable and more respectful business practices.
How is Chief Studio engaged in responsible production?
At Chief Studio we aim to be as responsible as possible, so all parts of the design and manufacturing process are undertaken with the utmost consideration and research.
All of the fabrics we have selected are organic cotton or organic cotton blend. All of our prints are created using a completely waterless printing process and biodegradable inks. The factory we produce with is family-owned and run, and meets the strictest WRAP and SA8000 ethical certifications, which verify that workers are treated in a fair and respectful way.
When the collections reach our office in Sydney and are ready for dispatch, we make sure that all pieces are packaged using recycled and biodegradable materials, and choose to purchase from stationery and packaging suppliers that work with the same values as we do.
What inspires you?
I am deeply inspired by exploring my own culture and heritage and the women that tell me these stories - this is where I draw my strength from. My mother, my sister, my aunts and my cousins; the Australian, the Kiwi, the Rarotongan and the British; it is an unlikely, but I think very modern story of colonisation, exploration and love.
I am also in love with designers that broke new ground in the 20th century and heralded women’s suiting in a very feminine way; Yves Saint Laurent, Versace and Donna Karan to name a few.
Who is the Chief Studio women?
She is above all bold, some may even call her brazen. But those are the people who are envious because the sun shines from within her even on the most miserable of days. She uses her voice on behalf of those who cannot use theirs. She does what she feels is right, and acts on what gives her pleasure – not on what is expected of her. She is an eccentric, a hopeless romantic and a woman that will give you a run for your money.