Byron-Bay based Alexandra Wright and Brittany Chadwick met a decade ago and “just clicked”. They often co-ordinated business trips to the US or Bali where Wright would source vintage denim for her Xandra Vintage online store, and Chadwick (a silversmith) would work on her jewellery label, Azura.
With a complementary skill set between them (Wright also worked as a freelance graphic designer and Chadwick a sales and marketing executive), the two always planned to join forces when the right opportunity came along.
The two sold their businesses in January last year and have been busy building their fashion label Seiyo. Born out of a desire to reinvent sleepwear as streetwear, their line of hand-embroidered silk separates is inspired by “the louche look of Coco Chanel in the 1920s”. The debut Lolita collection is named after Vladimir Nabokov’s novel. It’s evocative of the kind of attire you would wear scampering around a dreamy Parisian boudoir – flouncy, silky two-piece sets “one could be lazy in, but still look en pointe”, designed to be worn day or night.
The range will launch on July 1 but the label’s Instagram account has already amassed more than 8000 followers, even though nothing has yet been available to buy. A community of fans waits patiently for the founders to finish fussing over the final stitches.
The Caspar Kimono ($699) is inspired by a vintage Gucci robe. It’s made in a small family-run factory in Shanghai and has a premium 19-momme thread count, which is about as good as it gets where silk is concerned. The refined look and relaxed feel of the fabric was the designers’ muse. “Silk is our ethos,” says Wright. “Beyond the aesthetics we really like the way silk plays into the idea of ‘self love’,” she continues before explaining the naturally occurring amino acids found in the material, combined with the tight weave, are optimum for maximising hydration and overall skin health – creating what she calls “a second skin”.
Opting for charmeuse (a lightweight fabric, in this case silk, woven with satin) for the first collection, Wright says they chose this “classic sheeny silk” to mirror the line’s sensual negligee style. The Peter set is a loose blazer ($210) and culottes ($260), and Steve is a Chinese pajama-esque dress ($299).
“As a graphic designer by trade I’ve always been drawn to comic books, even though I never read them. There is something bold and irreverent about the aesthetic that I just love,” says Wright. This fascination is referenced in the collection through quirky embroidered motifs, from sushi rolls to noughts and crosses, and playful one-liners like “just roll with it” and “keep your enemies close”, which are positioned in discrete spots like on cuffs and the inner lining so wearers have the option to flaunt or conceal the embroidery and “keep the secrets to themselves”.
Seiyo will launch on July 1 for pre-sale with a 20-piece collection that blends sleep and street.