'Soft tailoring' is a phrase that is littered throughout the Australian fashion landscape. Drapery, pleats and silks have become the bread and butter for many local labels, and despite such exorbitant prices, quality isn't always up to scratch. Though only young, renegade Melbourne label DI$COUNT is set to change all of this. Not only is their quality excruciatingly high, but their unique aesthetic is full throttle in its rebellion towards trends and the industry as a whole.
“In Australia design is very often focused on functionality, and whilst we think this is important to some degree, we much prefer to achieve something that challenges people,” explains Cami James, one half of the DI$COUNT design duo. Cami met her now design partner Nadia Napreychikov while studying at RMIT, and while the course allowed the two to develop and explore their similar design aesthetics, the talented pair weren't so convinced by the design template taught to students. “During university we were taught to design in a very conceptual manner. After so long of having to justify the placement of a pocket with some ridiculously convoluted philosophical jargon, that in reality had nothing to do with it. We now design as we feel.”
Put simply, Cami and Nadia design by the motto 'do what you want.' Mixing a broad range of colourful and controversial influences together including punk, fetish, glam rock and camp, DI$COUNT turns their back on formulaic processes that adhere to design philosophies, seasons and commercial customers. Instead they focus on designs that embrace people's fantasies, along with their own.
“Of course we research; learning, growing, evolving is vital to us, but the idea of designing a traditional collection is archaic, especially with the use of blogging. A blog is an uninterrupted stream of images, words and updates, a quick and spontaneous way of disseminating ideas,” say Cami. “Designing in this fluid way is much more appropriate and enjoyable for us.”
The use of their popular blog has not only allowed the two to document their creative process, but has seen them reach a worldwide audience and gain a loyal following. Blogging their trips to Bangkok, personal outfits, photo shoots and musical influences, followers can't seem to get enough of the label's organic design procedure as well as their genuine passion for creating quality and lively pieces from unique sources of inspiration.
Such quality can be seen in their safety pin shirts and studded jackets, that on average can take up to 90 hours to hand stud. Such jackets, which were recently showcased at LMFF and have been worn by Ruby Rose and Britney Spears, also include hand quilted lining featuring a hand-sewn logo. Though the process must be torturously time-consuming, the results are truly inspiring and refreshing considering the industry so heavily relies on off-shore mass production.
These highly coveted jackets and DI$COUNT's more conceptual pieces are obviously not for everyone (or every budget) so the girls have cleverly created four lines to suit all forms of DI$COUNT admirers. ARTI$ANAL comprises of the very time-consuming and conceptual items such as the handmade jackets, TRA$H includes a series of DI$COUNT designed pieces that are either manufactured or made in the studio - depending on their detail, DEAD$TOCK is a selection of vintage items and the MERCH line is only a recent addition to the label.
Along with these four lines the DI$COUNT design duo still manage to find ways to challenge themselves with the recent participation in a Japanese exhibition. The label was invited to design six outfits from six objects. Not one to turn down a chance to explore and develop their craft, Cami and Nadia customised, dismantled and reassembled the received items into garments, videos and images, which were then exhibited in Tokyo, London and Melbourne.
“We really don’t see any limitations on DI$COUNT whatsoever, and definitely don’t expect that it will reside strictly in the fashion realm. We are both complete dreamers and are open to the possibility of absolutely everything,” says Nadia, who attributes DI$COUNT as being an all-encompassing brand which currently includes clothes, jewellery, art, styling, a successful blog and a soon-to-launch online store.
“Working outside of your comfort zone and pushing your work in to uncharted waters can really contribute to the strength of what you produce. One thing we are certain of is that we are extremely excited about the future!”
We can only hope that their enthusiasm and dream-big attitude perseveres through the woes of the fashion industry. It seems Australian fashion could learn a thing or two from these girls.