Melbourne clothing label Ricepaper was born in 2019, with founder Eve Walton-Healey wanting to create timeless womenswear that leans away from the trend cycle.

“I’ve seen some pretty awful things working in the industry,” Walton-Healey tells Broadsheet. “I was most impacted by the fast-fashion movement.”

“I was working for [local designer] Akira at the time his store in the GPO [building] had been shut down because H&M had taken over. All these beautiful Australian labels have been kicked out of what I grew up knowing as a hub for Australian-made. That definitely pushed me down the more ethical pathway to start something that I truly believed in and valued.”

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Walton-Healey – whose industry experience spans stints managing boutiques such as Gorman, Smith Street children’s store Pretty Wild and South Melbourne homewares store Nest – launched Ricepaper’s flagship store on Union Road in Ascot Vale in 2021.

“It is a great little community,” Walton-Healey says. “I’ve lived here for three years – it’s definitely my little shopping strip.” She says the lack of local designers in Melbourne’s west was another driving factor for opening her store in Ascot Vale. “I grew up in the north, so I know that there’s a lot of designers around that area and boutiques and things like this, but on this side of town, there’s not so much.”

The shopfront – built in the late 1800s – is accented by stained-glass window details and inside, Ricepaper’s clothing orbits a table of Aussie-made wares and accessories including April Blossom Co candles and vases; jewellery by Soli Studio, Wim and Studio Evo; and socks and hosiery by Sokken, Le Bon Shoppe and Swedish Stockings.

In a bid to keep waste to a minimum, Ricepaper’s collections are made with deadstock material: rolls of fabric created by big fashion labels that are passed down through the mass-production chain and would otherwise end up in landfill if not taken on by small designers. “We tend to use natural fibres where we can,” Walton-Healey says. “Obviously, with deadstock, we sometimes don't have access to it. It's just what's available then. We only do small runs, so sometimes we might make a style, but we will buy up all the fabric that there is. And then once that style has sold out or gone, we can't recut it … That kind of plays a part in the label being quite exclusive.”

Walton-Healey designs shift dresses, casual tees, oversized jumpers, A-line skirts and more in earthy tones. Jackets and coats are light and made to be worked into your existing wardrobe. The label also has a small range of activewear – yoga pants and shorts in pastel pink and blue.

Garments are also all created within a 15-kilometre radius of the store. Two local makers – one specialising in woven fabrics, the other in knits – are both female-run businesses, something that was important for Walton-Healey when choosing who to work with. “It's all about celebrating women,” she says.

Ricepaper
217 Union Road, Ascot Vale

Hours:
Mon 9.30am–4pm
Tue closed
Wed 9.30am–4pm
Thu & Fri 9.30am–5.30pm
Sat 9.30am–4pm
Sun closed

ricepaperthelabel.com