Lockdowns proved difficult for Melbourne retailers last year, but 2020 was especially difficult for Oscar Hunt – an in-person, made-to-measure suiting business that relies on a healthy wedding industry and office workers regularly updating their wardrobes.
“Last year was interesting,” says Amanda Crawford, the business’s strategic project manager. “It was certainly challenging for retail as a whole, but I think also such a great opportunity to be innovative. We took online consultations from people still eager to look forward to something – weddings, events.”
Although much of Oscar Hunt’s focus last year was keeping in contact with its existing customers to offer planning and support, there was something else that kept its attention diverted from rolling lockdowns: the development of a new made-to-measure womenswear service.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Crawford says. “We’ve had enquiries about womenswear for so many years, but we wanted to make sure that we did it right; that it was designed for women, not just a kind of last minute tag-on to the existing business.”
There’s certainly an appetite among women for the kind of bespoke tailoring service Oscar Hunt has long offered men at its chic Hardware Lane space, complete with a bar for delightfully boozy consultations.
Most women’s suiting is ready-to-wear, and typical high street retailers are particularly constrained when it comes to catering for women’s diverse sizes and shapes. Hence recent trend forecasts heralding the rise of casual suiting and a comeback for women’s tailoring – albeit in a more relaxed fit, and colours that look beyond the traditional grey, navy and black.
Imagery for this debut campaign is focused on pale blue, pale yellow and olive suits, but Oscar Hunt’s catalogue includes 3500 fabric choices sourced from Italy and the UK. There are three different trouser fits (slim, straight and wide), two different jacket options and 15 sizes available in every design, from size 0 up to 20 and beyond.
“[It’s] really inclusive, which I’m really excited about,” Crawford says. “We will never encounter a problem with that – it was really important to me that that was known.”
For a made-to-measure service, the suits are well priced too. Two-piece wool suits start at $950, and linens and cottons start at $750. In the coming year Oscar Hunt also plans to add a broader range for women, from shirting to formal wear, overcoats and even a small collection of ready-to-wear garments.
“It’s about creating a really clean, classic, timeless wardrobe,” Crawford says. “I think that’s where suiting really comes into play for both men and women. It provides those basic elements to a fundamental wardrobe – and the beauty of custom-made is that you can tweak things to make them your own, whether it’s that fun fabric, or something oversize, or something beautifully tailored. You’ve got the perfect blank canvas in a suit to make it yours.”
3/43 Hardware Lane, Melbourne
(03) 9670 6303
Tue to Fri 8.30am–6pm