Over the weekend, Beyoncé posted several photos of herself during a night out at the theatre, wearing a top by Adelaide label Acler. The superstar never reveals what designers she’s wearing in her outfit posts on Instagram, but that didn’t stop her fans and style watchers from sniffing out the exact details.
The top in question – Acler’s Fyffe Bodice from the current spring/summer collection – is a belted off-the-shoulder piece that retails for $250. Naturally it sold out soon after it was spotted on the star. “We’re shocked and happy she’s worn our clothes,” says Julia Ritorto, who co-designs the label with Kathryn Forth. “It’s really boosted our global exposure.” The pair have since arranged a re-cut of the top, which is available for pre-order online. It’s already “selling like hotcakes,” Ritorto says.
Acler’s public outing is thanks to its PR team in the US, which has a relationship with one of Beyoncé’s stylists. “Our lookbook was sent to her and she selected a few things,” Ritorto says. “Then we sent some pieces to her from Adelaide with a hand-written note and hoped for the best.”
The label launched in 2015 with the ambition to fill a gap for high-end products at a competitive price. Ritorto and Forth had both worked as designers and product managers in commercial fast fashion before coming together on their own label (Ritorto had been the industry for close to 15 years and Forth for nearly eight). “We wanted to slow things down, put thought and consideration into each garment designed,” Ritorto says.
Acler’s offering is predominantly event wear – sculptural, contemporary dresses and separates that turn heads for their dramatic detailing, whether that be via a cascade of ruffles or delicate appliqué. Materials are a big source of inspiration for the duo, who work with fabric mills to design materials to their specifications.
Disagreements in the design process are almost non-existent. “We’re both really open to what each other presents, and we end up feeling that we’ve designed 50:50 each. Both of our handwriting is all over each piece,” Ritorto says.
The designers were keen to establish Acler as an international brand from the start, launching straight into the US market in its debut year. The pair now have one eye on China and Hong Kong ¬– with the label’s production already based in China, future ventures into the country’s growing market make perfect sense.
Their designs will next be seen on the Adelaide Fashion Festival runway in October. Acler is part of the Street VS Contemporary South Australian showcase, alongside labels The Daily Edited, Naomi Murrell, Julie White, Millicent Elizabeth and Good Studios.
Currently, Acler’s sale revenue is split evenly between Australia and the US. The goal, though, is to truly “crack the US market”. Getting your clothes on Beyoncé isn’t a bad start.
AFF Runway 1 – Contemporary v Street: A South Australian Showcase is on Thursday October 12 at 6pm at the Torrens Parade Ground. Tickets start at $65 and are available online. Adelaide Fashion Festival is on October 11-15.