The Fashion Innovators | Panel Discussion

The Fashion Innovators | Panel Discussion


As part of the Small Business Festival Victoria 2016, The Council of Textile & Fashion are bringing together a panel of fashion's leading local innovators to discuss strategies for business success in our ever evolving industry. Learn from those who have overcome the challenges of growing a successful fashion business.

The event will provide the opportunity to ask questions and hear from active members of the local fashion community. From branding to growth strategies, learn how these industry innovators built their businesses and overcame their own hurdles.

Whether you are in the process of establishing your brand, considering a future in the industry or ready for some fresh insights, this event is for you!

WHEN | August 8, 3.30 pm - 5.00 pm

WHERE | Donkey Wheel House, 673 Bourke Street, Melbourne vic 3000

TICKETS | On Sale Friday June 3 Via Eventbrite HERE

This year we have representatives from across the local supply chain to provide you with insights applicable within your own business. The Council of Textile & Fashion’s CEO David Giles-Kaye will host the panel discussion which is set to include: John Condilis from Nobody Denim, designer and consultant Sarah Conners, Jenny Layton, and Cassandra Wheat & Louise Pannell of Chorus.

Small Business Festival Victoria is an annual program that takes place from 1-31 August. It offers aspiring and existing small businesses a high quality business events program to help start, operate and grow their business. The Victoria Government coordinates the festival through Small Business Victoria and collaborates with industry groups, private organisations and all levels of Government to design and deliver the events and activities.



John Condilis | Nobody Denim

John Condilis, Managing director of Nobody Denim and TFIA Board President, is passionate about growing & reestablishing the clothing manufacturing industry in Australia.

The Nobody story began with a small, family-built denim laundry in the backstreets of Melbourne, Australia in 1999. Founded on the belief that making jeans could be imbued with integrity and creativity, Nobody Denim has continued to go from strength to strength.

"You could say that we know denim. We are denim. It’s this kind of focus that gives us our drive and constantly pushes us to succeed". From fabric sourcing to fit and finish, the Nobody team show a dedication to their craft, a commitment to quality and a genuine understanding of their customers needs.

John is committed to maintaining an ethical and sustainable operational facility, with transparency at the core of Nobody's business activities. The label are accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia, ensuring everyone involved in making their designs receive fair wages and are provided with safe working conditions.


Cassandra Wheat & Louise Pannell | CHORUS

Meet Cassandra Wheat and Louise Pannell, the talented duo behind Melbourne based label Chorus, who are approaching the Fashion retail landscape in a slightly different way.

Chorus’ aim is to provide a considered wardrobe for the contemporary woman. Their design process is collaborative, drawing on diverse disciplines and focusing on small-scale, local production.

Chorus' 'Monthly Editions' see the periodic release of capsule outfits, made to order, here in Melbourne. The process allows for an intimate attention to the details, fit and quality of the garments, that are designed to last.

Cassandra, currently undertaking a PhD in fashion, graduated from RMIT with a Bachelor of Design – Fashion, (Honours) going on to work for both niche and high street labels across men’s and women’s wear. Cassandra also undertook a Masters of Fashion Design at Domus Academy in Milan, later moving to Amsterdam to design for her long time hero’s Viktor & Rolf.

Louise studied Visual Merchandising at RMIT and has worked for over 13 years in retail visual merchandising both in Australia and the UK; most recently as Visual Merchandising Manager for Mimco and working in various consulting roles for brands such as Viktoria and Woods and Mecca Cosmetica.


Sarah Conners | SARAH CONNERS

Since 2001, Sarah Conners has been a design driven leather goods professional with the ability to combine design aesthetic with business acumen and management skills.

Realising a passion for handmade leather goods and accessories through her own brand SARAH CONNERS, Sarah has been able to build a brand that is true to her aesthetics and attracts a loyal and passionate following. Along with the online store, SARAH CONNERS has recently opened a retail store in Hawthorn, Melbourne, and manufactures branded product for other Australian labels.

Sarah also has experience working with small businesses through her work with the TFIA Fashion and Textile Hub and the Industry Capability Network. With a love of sharing skills and knowledge within the fashion industry, Sarah now works with new and upcoming bag and accessory brands and designers as they begin their fashion journey. Working with them to realise their designs and navigate through the process of making samples and product manufacture.


Jenny Layton

Jenny and her business partner Christine Metcalfe started The Ark more or less by accident. They simply started making clothes that they loved wearing. At the time, they were both young mums juggling babies and life. They were craving clothing that you could quickly slip on, that made you feel good and you didn’t have to think about.

After launching the label at the well known Flinders Market, 26 years later, they have shifted from two at the kitchen table to a team of 90 staff in an open plan warehouse in Melbourne. The Ark is an ethically accredited vertical womens fashion company with flourishing retail, wholesale and online operations.

Jenny and Christine believe a fashion brand is about more than just being successful. It’s an ethos encouraging a warm and supportive workplace culture. A collaborative community where you are treated with integrity . This is paramount to being able to successfully move an expanding company in the fast world of fashion but maintain a fluid approach to new ideas and allow creativity to flourish.

The Ark also embraces the opportunity to work with like minded social enterprise projects and supporting interns from Australia and overseas in gaining real experience working in a hands on fashion company. So important to maintaining the viability of the fashion industry and all the offshoot industry relying on its success.

April 2016 saw the pair say goodbye to The Ark, selling to their GM Lyn McPherson and her husband David. Under this new stewardship The Ark will continue to grow and embrace future trends in the business of fashion.

Jenny remains on the TFIA Board and is currently involved in an industry project working toward supporting Australia’s emerging design talent . As well, Jenny has established the Earthed Foundation, partly due to experiences and relationships built during her time at Ark, focussing on connecting people, knowledge and passion on projects based locally and around the globe .


A big thank you to the Small Business Festival Victoria team! Be sure to check out the other events that will be taking place as part of this year's festival program HERE!

Places are limited and set to fill up fast - so make sure you get in quick! On Sale Friday June 3rd Via Eventbrite HERE

Thanks for Reading!