It has been a steady rise for Anny Duff’s Good Studios. Since 2012 the eco clothing label has built a loyal following of local, ethically conscious shoppers. Now the word is spreading further afield.
The Adelaide designer has just signed a deal with Birkenstock’s Japanese distributor. This means her line will be stocked in a range of concept stores in Tokyo. The lifestyle stores will focus on Birkenstock’s philosophy of “comfort, durability and sustainability,” Duff says.
The first store opened last month, with seven more expected to open across Japan over the next four years. Duff is also in talks to sell her line in other multi-brand stores across the country. “In terms of cementing my brand overseas, this is certainly a big leap,” she says.
It has been a year of change and growth for the local fashion brand. Formerly B Goods Label, Duff made the switch to Good Studios in May to better reflect the brand’s philosophy. “I always struggled with the name a little bit; I think it was too complex and a little bit too ‘punny’, but the big clincher was that a friend introduced me to a brand in San Francisco that had just launched called B Goods and I thought if ever there was an opportunity to change … I also wanted the name to be as simple and minimal as the concept behind it.”
Taking her cues from the minimalist aesthetics of Japan and Scandinavia, Duff’s designs eschew bright colours and patterns in favour of muted tones (blues, greys, neutrals and blacks) and classic, simple lines. The results are enduring, wearable and timeless staples.
“In the last 18 months Australian fashion has had this real push for the extroverted,” she says. [People think] if you’re paying good money for something it has to be flamboyant and one of a kind, like a sculptural statement piece. To me that’s not sustainable fashion; it’s a trend and something that’s quite of its time.”
Duff attributes her proclivity for timelessness to her background in art direction. The multi-talent has worked on SA-produced films One Eyed Girl and Collision, and music videos for Steering by Stars, Wolf & Cub and Manor. “My design aesthetic has always been really simple and timeless. Whenever I work on a film that’s the feedback I get, that you can’t pick the time of the film I’ve designed, which is such a compliment to me.”
In 2015 the designer moved all manufacturing from Indonesia on-shore to SA. The clothes are made from luxurious hemp linen, hemp organic blends of jersey, muslin and twill, and recycled nylon from China, but Duff hopes to offer a “single-origin product” in the future.
“Legislation prohibits us from growing hemp industrially in South Australia. And the industry here is so small that there’s no way I could create a financially viable brand using just Australian-made hemp, but in the future that’s the idea, to be completely Australian-made from seed to garment.
“We work with a manufacturer [in China] who works very closely with the farms where [the hemp] is grown and they only make natural fibres and sustainable fabrics. They’re doing a lot of experimenting with milk fabric and they’re really interested in using waste and by-products of other fabrics like the husk of the cotton that’s normally thrown away. It’s really exciting to see what’s coming out of there.”
The garments also feature buttons made from pulped recycled hemp and zips made from recycled nylon. The swimwear is made from salvaged fishing nets, sourced from European company Econyl. “They pay fishermen for their old broken nets and pay divers to pull them up from the bottom of the ocean, it’s an amazing initiative,” Duff says. “You’re wearing swimwear, you’re in the ocean and suddenly you’re starting to think about water conservation and what you leave at the beach and all that stuff. There’s that immediate link.”
Duff’s designs will hit the runway this Friday as part of the Adelaide Fashion Festival New Classics showcase. Her new summer collection and swimwear line will feature alongside pieces from Naomi Murrell, Elizabeth V, Sylvy Earl and The Daily Edited.
“It’s really exciting, I think back to four years ago when I first started and I was working at The Mill alongside Naomi who was just doing her jewellery at the time and we were all figuring out what we were doing, and in four years these amazing brands have popped up with really iconic and individual looks,” Duff says.
“It’s great we’ve got a big fashion house like Australian Fashion Labels making a name for South Australian fashion but the independents are really carving their own little rung here. It’s such an honour to be there alongside them.”