Fashfest 2017 is not far off now and the talent coming to the runway this year looks like it will knock our (very stylish) socks off. Fashfest goes from strength to strength every year and I can't wait to see what is in store this time round!
One of the talented designers who will be gracing the catwalk with her sure to be incredible collection is Gehrich. I was lucky enough to borrow a few minutes of time from the designer to find out more about this stunning label...
What is the story behind Gehrich?
Gehrich really came about because of my love of pattern making and sewing.
I found it so challenging to find a job when I first moved to Melbourne where I wasn’t sitting in front of a computer all day, where I could draft a pattern, sew a sleeve, do photoshoots, source fabrics and the like. I couldn’t find that perfect job anywhere. I was frustrated so I thought that if the industry couldn’t provide me with the experience I wanted then I would go out and get the experience for myself. Famous last words.
I found a job in retail (and still work there while we get Gehrich up and running to be able to sustain a full time wage) and I was making bits and pieces every weekend and most nights after work and giving them to family and friends. One day, out of the blue, I received an email from a little gallery in Hobart that had heard of me. They asked if I was interested in getting some coats to them. That’s when Gehrich became more serious than a side hobby.
When I met my business partner Chris four years ago we nutted out what Gehrich stood for and what we wanted it to be. We started meticulously putting the ground work in place in terms of branding, brand identity and trademarking Gehrich so we would have everything in place to grow the brand.
We’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way but have learned so much about the industry and myself as a designer. I’m my own worst critic and it’s hard for me to put a price on my garments. I would give them all away if I could (Chris would cringe when reading this) I love seeing people excited about wearing something I’ve made.
What is your design process for your collections?
My design process has changed in the last year. It’s reverted back to what it was before I studied. I start with sourcing fabrics, which isn’t how a lot of labels work. This collection for FASHFEST really drove that home for me. I spent so many days scribbling designs on blank sheets of paper for the sake of ‘designing first and sourcing second’ but it was uninspiring. Two weeks later I said ‘Enough!’
I then searched for fabrics first and dealt with designs later. I sourced all of my fabrics in one afternoon and the collection was designed by noon the next day. I can see garments in the fabrics. Show me a fabric and I can give you pages of ideas. Tell me to design a dress with no fabric and I’ll sit there all day going over ideas and not drawing anything cohesive.
It sounds simple, but it’s taken me a while to work this out.
Once I have my collection sketched out I allocate fabric to each design and start pattern making and toiling and the process evolves from there. Usually about 50% of the garments end up looking 100% like the sketches. The other half are tweaked, such as by moving seam lines or lengthening skirts, depending on the cut and fabric.
Everything for a show always comes together at the 11th hour.
What excites you most about being part of the Australian fashion industry?
The opportunities in the industry. It’s challenging but it’s time to be more creative because we don’t have the huge amount of resources in Australia they do overseas. But you have to look at this in an optimistic way and work with what you have and build on it.
I’m excited that sustainability is something that is being talked about more and that labels and the industry are slowly focusing on it more. We try our best at Gehrich but we have a long way to go. We’ll keep learning and improving in this area.
This is your first time at FASHFEST, what made you apply?
I first heard of FASHFEST in its debut year but Gehrich wasn’t able to apply since we were finding our feet as a label. It’s only been this year that we’ve thought we could do a runway and FASHFEST came on to our radar again in March.
Gehrich was a part of an off site runway—Lush Terrain for VAMFF—and I was lucky enough to meet two other amazing and inspiring designers, Alice Sutton of EDITION and Cadia Belante, both of whom had participated in FASHFEST. It was after speaking to them and hearing their feedback on what a great experience it was and how well organised and curated FASHFEST was that I thought I should apply.
FASHFEST is an experience that no other fashion festival in Australia offers. It has such a wide variety of designers and creative from different disciplines and curates it all together in such a sophisticated way. We’re excited to be a part of the 2017 runway.
What can we expect to see when your designs hit the runway at FASHFEST?
Ooh, this collection is about colour blocking and earth tones. You will see pared back, clean silhouettes and a ‘few’ ruffles thrown in for good grace.
Describe the Gehrich aesthetic in five words…
Feminine, refined, elegant, understated, fun.
Where do you aim to take your label in the future?
I would love to one day have a studio/shop/café space with all manufacturing done in house (it currently is but I’d love it on a much larger scale) where people can come and see how a label works and have a coffee at the same time. That’s our little dream. First our own shop then build from there.
I would also loved to be able to follow our wool fibres from paddock to hanger and work with one of the last mills, Waverly Woolen mills in Launceston (I grew up in Tassie so being one day in a position to be able to grow an industry down there would be amazing) to develop and manufacture fabrics for us. Our heart is in growing the local industry in Australia and being able to do that in a sustainable and ethical way.
Don't miss out on witnessing this incredible label hit the runway along with plenty of other talented designers. Grab your Fashfest tickets here!