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Canberra and Melbourne have a lot in common, and it’s more than each having a Lonsdale Street. Both cities experience short bursts of intense heat in summer and prolonged bouts of cold in winter. The climate similarities mean many Canberrans undertake seasonal shopping pilgrimages to Melbourne to stock up. So it’s no surprise that a Melbourne fashion initiative, StageLabel, has links to Canberra and its democratic foundations.
StageLabel connects emerging designers with fashionistas through online crowd sourcing. Designs are posted on StageLabel’s website for votes from registered participants. In return, these voting constituents can pre-order from the limited run of custom-made designs.
In reality TV terms, it’s like getting a home performance by voting for your favourite The Voice performer.
The brainchild of Canberra-raised designer, Rohit Bhargava, StageLabel allows up and coming designers to simultaneously build a customer base and market test what works best in their collection. So rather than sinking investment into an entire collection that sits on racks and don’t sell, designers have exact number for their most popular pieces.
“We help them gain design validation for individual items from their collection, so that they can make better investment decisions with their limited capital,” Rohit explains from backstage at a special Melbourne Spring Fashion Week runway event last week.
The event is a preview of the top voted designers that are available for order. The night saw models sashaying through the audience, giving everyone a chance to take in every details of the designs up close. I spoke to designer Samantha Lentini whose elegant cotton designs feature distinctive hand-drawn prints.
“Drawing by hand is therapeutic,” she says. “Fashion for me is all about comfort, it should look and feel beautiful, which is why I work in cotton.”
“I work in the back of my house and being part of StageLabel means I can concentrate on what the public wants rather than guessing.”
Designs available for production can be ordered now from the StageLabel website. Here you will see everything from well fitting shirts, both maxi and above knee skirts, velvet jackets and even a fresh spring hat design. Prices vary from under $100 up to $2000 for a sophisticated silk and velvet evening coat.
Each design has been produced for a limited print run, so you’re unlikely to see someone else in Canberra wearing the same piece. Online orders can be placed up to the first week of October.
But if those designs don’t take your fancy you can still vote on other designers’ concepts and help bring them to production stage. All that’s left now Canberra is to click, vote and shop!