As fashion-industry veterans, Sophie Barker and Annie Carroll have had people turning to them for insider style advice for years.
“A lot of our friends ask us for advice on where to find a certain item, like the perfect black blazer or a sustainably made pair of pyjamas,” Barker tells Broadsheet. “We realised there was a real gap in the market for a directory that answered these questions in a curated, trusted way – like a friend would.”
The result is Homeroom, a digital compendium of more than 300 Australian brands that allows users to explore labels and pieces based on a range of considerations such as occasion, inclusivity, sustainability and personal style.
Save 20% when you buy two or more Broadsheet books. Order now to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas.SHOP NOW
Founded by the Melbourne-based Barker, a stylist, and communications strategist Carroll, the directory can also be browsed by specific tags such as “made in Australia”, “size 18+”, “responsible”, “First Nations designers”, “modest”, “adaptive clothing” and “emerging designers”. Homeroom’s directory also includes categories such as minimalism, maximalism, pregnancy, work, dinner date and bride, and offers accompanying information on the environmental, ethical and social practices of its featured brands.
“There was a really practical component to the initial idea,” says Barker. “As a stylist I’ve had my own cataloguing system for keeping tabs on all the best Australian fashion labels, and Annie also worked in fashion in the past, so she had a strong sense of the landscape too.”
The pair aims to highlight the depth and breadth of the Australian fashion ecosystem for both industry players and consumers, so nobody needs to feel like a fashion outsider.
“Both of us have had mixed experiences working in the fashion industry, so it was really important to us that we created a platform that felt welcoming to everyone, no matter whether you’re in the know about fashion or a style rookie,” says Carroll. “We want to strip away any feelings of exclusion and intimidation that fashion can bring.”
From emerging names like E Nolan and Kourh to established players such as Country Road and international success stories like Dion Lee, Homeroom allows users to get the lowdown on individual brands, complemented by curated, evolving edits of specific wardrobe items – such as the best flats for winter or a round-up of timeless trench coats.
The platform has been designed to take the hard work out of shopping for fashion, so that when you search, you’ll only see labels that typically offer what you’re looking for.
“The internet is endless, and who has the time,” says Carroll. “We think what people really want and need right now is a trusted, curated place they can go to cut through the clutter. We’re completely grassroots – everything is hand-selected by us because we love it.”
Barker, who has worked with clients including David Jones, Bonds, Dior and Chadstone, says the goal is for Homeroom to become an honest and trusted resource for local buyers.
“Trust isn’t something you can win overnight, which is why we think transparency is super important,” she says. “We’ve dedicated whole sections for every brand on the directory to their social and sustainability initiatives, and we work with the labels on the directory to keep track of these.”
The platform is also aimed at supporting the local fashion industry in the face of international competition.
“As far as we know, there is no platform out there that champions only Australian fashion labels in this way,” says Carroll. “There is so much talent in our local fashion ecosystem and dozens of incredible emerging designers to be discovered. When you realise the depth of homegrown talent, it’s really pretty astonishing, and we feel passionate about supporting that.”