CEL Masthead Winter 18

CARDIF Collective

Wendy Johnson

At times they sit at opposite ends of the cutting table but Chris Lloyd and David Traylen have a tailored vision for fashion designers that has been stitched up and is now becoming a reality.

The couple will officially open the Canberra and Region Designers in Fashion (CARDIF) in the New Year, providing centrally located, light-filled and inspirational space and support to a group of selected fashion designers to help them realise their aspirations.

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Twelve affordable studios will be set up in a massive 685m² space overlooking Green Square and a ‘hub’ formed enabling designers to feed off one another, share ideas and work in a creative environment.

The story began with Chris who started creating fashion for herself, family and friends as a teenager. It was a passion, but life—with its inevitable twists and turns—led Chris to pursue a professional career in the public service and, more recently, as an independent contractor. The dream to be a designer was shelved and while the sewing machine was tucked away nearly 20 years ago, the urge to create remained. The machine has now been hauled out of storage, dusted off and is about to get working again.

But where would Chris set up operations?

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In looking for space, she met many independent designers who faced the same problem—leased space can be prohibitively expensive and setting up as a solopreneur somewhat isolating and uninspiring. Chris instinctively knew that designers craved a more creative, collaborative environment, a dedicated place to work, be inspired, share, learn and connect.

When Chris and David stumbled across the lost and lonely space on Level 1 of the Cusack Centre in Kingston, which had been vacant for yonks, they took it as a sign. Soon after they had finalised a lease and CARDIF, a not-for-profit, moved from being an idea to a real-life project.

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Old carpet has been hauled out. Floors have been de-nailed, sanded and cleaned up. Walls have been painted, new lights installed and other renovations completed, all adding new life to the tired and unused space.

CARDIF also has a retail arm, called CARDIF Collective. The designers who occupy studios will sell through this central, open-plan area and so too can those who sign up to CARDIF as a member. A retail manager will be on site.

There’s heaps more to do to perfect the space—heaps—but that isn’t stopping the CARDIF Collective from hosting its first pop-up in time for Christmas and as a prelude to the official opening in 2016.

The pop-up will feature the work of close to 30 creatives, mostly local and regional, offering Australian jewellery, fashion, millinery, accessories, homewares and more. It’s on from 12 to 22 December.

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The CARDIF Collective is clear on what it will and won’t sell. It won’t ever offer imported stock, seconds or stock that designers haven’t been able to clear.

CARDIF and its collective is a perfect fit for Kingston given that the area was the first commercial centre established in the capital around 100 years ago.

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Several designers are already signed up for studio space. One has moved in and others will be settled by the New Year. A second call for applications will take place early in 2016 (designers can, however, express interest at any time).

Workspaces range in size from approximately 10 m²  to 28 m². Design studios can be rented by one designer or shared. Rent includes access to a large common area, including two large cutting tables, storage, racking, and kitchen facilities. A pattern maker and machinist will be on site and available to designers on a fee-for-service basis.

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“CARDIF will become a centre of excellence and support fashion designers to grow and develop,” says Chris. “The idea is to provide affordable, long-term creative and retail space for designers, both established and emerging, who have a desire to make their brand commercially accessible and who want to connect direct with customers.”

Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson graduated with a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, a few decades ago. She’s been living in Australia since 1995, having fallen in love with eucalypt trees and kangaroos. Wendy is passionate about Canberra and all the nation’s capital has to offer. She loves to write (about everything and anything) and owns her own pr and advertising business. More about the Author