AFC MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
MEET | ARNSDORF
Jade Sarita Arnott
Designer/ Creative Director /Founder
In honour of Melbourne Fashion Week (MFW) we caught up with Melbourne-based fashion designer and AFC Member Jade Sarita Arnott. Jade is the Designer, Creative Director and Founder behind the label ARNSDORF...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR OWN INDUSTRY BACKGROUND AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO ‘FASHION’?
From a young age I always had a strong interest in fashion and knew I wanted to pursue a creative career, however wasn't sure which medium it would take. I grew up in a creative environment, my parents met at Art School- my dad is a photographer and my mother was a painter although they also had other jobs to support their practices. After school I studied a Bachelor of Creative Arts at VCA and then went on to do a Bachelor of Fashion Design at RMIT University, so I have a background in both art and fashion.
HOW DID THE NAME ‘ARNSDORF’ COME TO BE? WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE BRAND?
The name ARNSDORF is actually my original surname lost to me through history. When my grandparents migrated to Australia from Germany, they changed it to Arnott.
The mission for the brand is to create modern archetypal clothing for women of style and purpose. We believe that what you wear has a direct impact on the way you feel and your well being, which has a profound impact on every aspect of your life. Our mission is to continually drive transparency across all levels of the fashion life cycle to help enable women to lead stylish and purposeful lives.
Our vision is to be the leading transparent womenswear brand operating in Australia, championing greater transparency, ethics and purpose in the industry within five years.
We go into more detail on our website here
ARNSDORF OPERATES A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY TO YOUR TYPICAL FASHION MODEL, TELL US ABOUT YOUR DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING PROCESS, AND THE ROLE OF YOUR CUSTOMER?
We have set up our own factory here in Collingwood, Melbourne so that we have total control over the supply chain and working conditions of our machinists/craftspeople. Everything we produce is made in-house with the exception of denim which is made at a denim factory down the road whom we've had a relationship with for over a decade.
We start by sourcing fabrics or developing fabrics by their sustainable properties. We work directly with specialty sustainable fabric mills across the world to source the highest quality lowest impact fibers and fabrics. We also utilise high quality dead-stock fabrics, that have been over produced by international designers.
Design is front and centre to the brand and the key to longevity of the garment. We spend a lot of time, sampling and prototyping and testing our garments so they are refined and perfected, it's a circular process as we work directly with our machinists in-house.
We have an ongoing relationship with our customers too, we offer styling services and have capacity to offer a made-to-measure service, free alterations and free repairs for the lifetime of our garments.
We feel transparency is an integral part of bringing about systemic change within an industry which has been traditionally very opaque in terms of its often times questionable ethical and sustainable practices.
On our website we reveal all the costs that go in to the garments from labor and material to logistics. We also show supply chain information about which mills our fabrics have come from. We are continually incorporating ways to be more sustainable within our practice, from zero waste cutting techniques or incorporating discarded fabric scraps into something new. We are also the process of B Corporation accreditation and ECA accreditation.
WHY WAS AUSTRALIAN MADE AN IMPORTANT FACTOR FOR YOU? WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES IN MAKING LOCALLY?
We believe in supporting the Australian manufacturing industry and at the same time having an intimate relationship with the making of our garments. The challenge is the cost of wages in Australia for manufacturing are high compared with other countries offshore. However, we believe there is a great opportunity to nurture the industry here, the benefits are lead times can be short. So there can be a better response to sell through and recutting a style that is performing well and getting it into store quickly. The alternative system of making large quantities in one order offshore can lead to oversupply and waste, or selling out and not being nimble enough due to distance to meet the demand.
'SUSTAINABILITY' IS A BROAD TERM, WHICH CAN MEAN DIFFERENT THINGS FOR DIFFERENT BUSINESSES, WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ARNSDORF AND YOUR CUSTOMER?
Our brand and business is built upon sustainability as its foundation. We take a multifaceted approach to sustainability, as outlined above. Our customers appreciate our transparency and traceability, they resonate with our vision of a healthier and more wholistic fashion system and our drive to bring greater transparency to the Australian fashion industry.
WHAT’S NEXT? ANY EXCITING PROJECTS ON THE HORIZON?
We have a pop-up concept store at QV until the end of the month, along with our permanent Fitzroy Boutique. We are participating in the MFW runway next month at the Town Hall Runways. We are also planning to pop-up in Sydney in the near future as well as open a permanent Melbourne CBD store when we find the right premises.
WHAT DOES ‘AUSTRALIAN’ FASHION/STYLE/DESIGN MEAN TO YOU?
There’s a freedom in the Australian lifestyle and landscape that lends itself well to a certain paired back relaxed style. There’s this combination of being quite worldly and a multitude of cultural heritages combined with a distance to explore our own voices. I think generally it’s about taking quality, natural materials and using them in intentional, bold ways with elements of tradition but reinterpreting them in a contemporary way. There is such a rich quality of life here in Australia, from the quality of produce and restaurants we have here to the environment around us. Things I now cherish after living in New York for 6 years.
RECOMMEND 5! WHO/WHAT/WHERE ARE YOUR LOCAL TEXTILE & FASHION GO TO’S?
1. Actually Existing - This Melbourne based accessories brand makes beautiful quality ethically sourced and sustainably produced leather prices in their own workshop.
2. Intent Journal is a wonderful online resource for well designed sustainable and ethical brands.
3. ECA - a great resource for finding Ethically Accredited suppliers and makers
4. Wardrobe Crisis Podcast - each week Claire Press delves into the issues facing the planet and the fashion industry.
5. Buttonmania is a small store in the Melbourne suburbs but supplies corozo buttons as well as a limited collection of special vintage buttons.