DSO We’re so excited to be launching Alemais at Mode Sportif! Can you tell us a little bit about your journey in starting your own business?
LJ: I’m so excited to have our pieces available at Mode Sportif! Alemais was born at the onset of COVID-19, I certainly didn’t plan on starting a business during a global pandemic! Most of my friends and colleagues strongly advised against it, however I had a strong intuitive feeling about giving it a go.
The impact of Covid-19 on many brands meant collections were being cancelled and suppliers were being left with abandoned stock and materials. I was seeing widespread stress across the fashion industry. I started receiving calls from the small manufacturers in Sydney and Melbourne as well as from overseas who I had worked with throughout my career. I started brainstorming creative ways I could repurpose the abandoned materials to try and ensure the ongoing wages of the supply chain workers. From there Alemais was born.
DSO: What is your brand ethos?
LJ: Alemais is about creating pieces that transcend time and place. Our pieces are romantic and eclectic, embracing traditional artisan techniques handed down through generations.
There is nothing simple about making a dress and it is our ethos to celebrate the many hands a single garment passes through. From hand sketch, to patternmaker, farmer to the weaver, to cutter and maker, to presser and packer, the QC team, to the logistics team and eventually our customer. Our ethos is to connect our community to the providence of their Alémais pieces. To start a conversation and provide education on the processes and stories behind each garment, creating an emotional connection to our wardrobe and creating a less throw away approach.
DSO: Environmental responsibility is a part of your brand identity. How do you see fashion brands evolving towards a more sustainable future?
LJ: Responsibility is intrinsic to Alémais, it means being considered and thoughtful in all areas of the business to reduce our impact. I’m so inspired by what can be achieved in this space with collaboration, I believe this is the future of sustainability in the fashion industry. Through working closely with our suppliers, helping them to embrace new technologies and with constant review of our practices and consideration on how we can do better. I believe fashion can be a vehicle for positive change.
DSO: Can you tell us a bit about your creative process when approaching a new collection? What inspires you?
LJ: Above all else I am inspired to create a little bit of joy and magic!
It is mostly an intuitive, emotional process and a constant evolution of ideas from one season to the next. I like to stay fluid in the process and at this stage in developing the brand exploring those raw moments of magic that present themselves through a true authentic approach to creativity - uninhibited and experimental. There is inspiration everywhere, I collect old photos, references from my favourite books and vintage textiles I have collected from travels over the years to create mood boards. I usually collaborate with the artisans and suppliers about textile developments, from here I collaborate with the team on artwork and we sit and talk about each style.
Once I feel immersed in the narrative I sketch for days, it's a very explorative process. I draw all the time as ideas pop into my head, on the back of a receipt or napkin at a restaurant, old boarding passes (when we were ‘free’ to fly) post-it notes, my art diary. I usually end up with piles of sketches that I need to edit into different stories. Sometimes it starts with an inspiring artwork or textures from our artisans and sometimes it's about an attitude or a feeling. I am very hands on and love to collaborate with the team and freelance artists and our wonderful patternmaker to tell the stories. We invest in the whole process with heart and soul, there's an emotional reaction at the end that we hope your customers feel too.
DSO: What is your favourite piece from the Mode Edit? How would you style it?
LJ: It’s so hard to pick a favourite! The Rosetta Swirl Dress is definitely a stand out from this collection. I’ll be wearing it with a chunky sandal, layers of gold jewellery and a basket bag as the weather warms up!