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Meet the Finalists | Westpac Private Bank Emerging Fashion Designer Award 2020

_ Meet the Finalists | Westpac Private Bank Emerging Fashion Designer Award 2020 Westpac Private Bank, in partnership with the Australian Fashion Council (AFC), is pleased to announce labels Commas, Mndatory and Nagnata as the finalists for the Emerging Fashion Designer Award 2020.  COMMAS Richard Jarman Having grown up spending summers in the water of […]

by The AFC

26 February 2020


Meet the Finalists | Westpac Private Bank Emerging Fashion Designer Award 2020

Westpac Private Bank, in partnership with the Australian Fashion Council (AFC), is pleased to announce labels Commas, Mndatory and Nagnata as the finalists for the Emerging Fashion Designer Award 2020. 


Richard Jarman

Having grown up spending summers in the water of Sydney, designer and Commas founder Richard Jarman has always found inspiration in Australia’s unique beachside lifestyle. Whilst studying a masters of Property Economics at Sydney’s UTS, Richard Jarman found himself drawn to the design and architecture tomes in the design library. For two years he researched and collated images and references, consulting business and design mentors, before deciding to create COMMAS, which launched in 2016.

Recognising a gap in his own wardrobe, and therefore the greater menswear industry, Richard recalls: "I wanted to be the same person every day that I was on holidays. And that’s become my goal with each and every piece that COMMAS offers. I aim to reflect that idea in the quality, timelessness and trans-seasonality of all of our pieces, offering a holiday-enriching wardrobe that you will not want to take off once you return.”

Initially a concise swim collection comprising of swim shorts, trunks and linen shirting, Jarman has expanded his design repertoire to a full resort wardrobe for modern men. The latest SS20 collection features 44 pieces spanning swim and ready to wear, inspired by Anthony Minghella’s iconic 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley and its sublime precursor, René Clément’s 1960 classic Plein Soleil.

The name COMMAS implies a purposeful pause, a reminder to catch your breath, to recalibrate, and take pleasure in the moment. The brand serves as a catalyst to find calmness in the spaces between life’s clutter.

Focusing on a clean and direct aesthetic, COMMAS comprises contemporary designs in muted tones for a modern, masculine sensibility. Created using highest-quality fabrics sourced from Europe and Japan, each collection’s cornerstone includes tie-front swim shorts, original print shirting, and the much-coveted Italian linen robe.

Shortly after its launch, COMMAS secured global luxury retailer MATCHESFASHION.COM in 2017, followed by luxury stockists in the Côte d'Azur, France and Canada. In January 2020 COMMAS will be the only Australian brand included in the Mytheresa Men’s international launch.

In August 2019 COMMAS was named the #1 menswear brand to watch by Vogue Paris and has been featured on the covers of Vogue and GQ Australia, Executive Style and Esquire Middle East, as well as in renowned publications ranging from Modern Weekly Style to Buffalo Zine to The Financial Times.


Brian Huynh

Brian Huynh is the founder and creative director of MNDATORY. Born and raised in Melbourne, Brian is a proud first generation Australian; with both parents having arrived to Australia as Vietnamese refugees.

Whilst studying Optometry at the University of Melbourne, Brian realised his true vocation existed in fashion, design and more specifically, menswear. Brian went on to complete a Bachelor of Design, Majoring in Fashion at the Whitehouse Institute of Design (Melbourne campus). During this time, Brian also gained invaluable industry experience working in menswear tailoring; gaining a greater understanding of fit, whilst enhancing his practical skills in cutting and pattern-making. Upon graduating, Brian worked in styling at prominent runway events, most notably at MBFWA for designers such as Toni Maticevski, By Johnny and Watson x Watson.

After recognising a market need for innovative menswear, Brian made the decision to start the MNDATORY label. Drawing inspiration from his own personal life experiences and Louis Kahn’s “Conversation with a Brick”, Brian believes that good design is about honouring materials and understanding that every fabric has its own story to tell. “I always source my fabric first and allow it to inform the design of the garment - it’s fundamentally a process of self-actualisation, not only for the fabric, but for me as a designer.”

Specialising in men’s outerwear and tailoring, MNDATORY releases multiple collections per year via its exclusive “Co-Creation” model. Through decoding its brand DNA, all MNDATORY collections now facilitate a co-creative process; which allows customers the opportunity to customise and personalise any garment from the designer collections.

Since launching in 2016, MNDATORY has twice been named a finalist for the National Designer Award at VAMFF; and in 2019 was a recipient of the St.George Next Gen prize as part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia.


Laura May Gibbs and Hannah Gibbs

NAGNATA is a premium fashion and lifestyle brand designed for modern movement and studio-to-street style. The brand was founded by Australian fashion designer, stylist and creative director Laura May, and later joined by her sister Hannah, a textile artist and photographer. The sister design-duo draw from their backgrounds in fashion, textiles, art, yoga and dance to establish a multi-faceted platform that extends to philanthropic work surrounding the fashion industry.

NAGNATA collections incorporate high-end fashion constructions with contemporary sportswear appeal, offering an unconventional concept to the fashion, lifestyle and activewear markets. Through sustainably focused contemporary fashion lines and artisan collaborations, the brand aims to redefine value and challenge the rampant consumerism engendered by fast fashion. NAGNATA are committed to minimising the waste of raw materials in fashion production and keeping the use of synthetic fibres in their textiles to a minimum. 

NAGNATA launched the brands first RTW fashion collection online in 2017 and presented the  MOVEMENT 001 organic cotton technical-knitwear line to international buyers during New York & London SS'18 Fashion Week. The brand followed through with an Australian Merino Wool core performance seamless knitwear line 'THE SENSUALITY OF SEAMLESS', developed in collaboration with The Woolmark Company. NAGNATA MOVEMENTS feature original textile developments of the brand, merging science and innovation with the properties of organic, natural and renewable fibres.

Net-A-Porter supported the brand from MOVEMENT 001 and leading fashion, lifestyle and department stores soon followed; including Selfridges (London), KITH, Carbon 38, Farfetch, Shop Bop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP and Tracy Anderson studio's in the US. NAGNATA aligned with INCU, Desordre Boutique and sustainable fashion platform Well Made Clothes in Australia, amongst other concept stores worldwide.

NAGNATA were awarded finalists for the Lane Crawford Creative Callout competition in Sydney 2018, winning an exclusive 1 year contract with the leading Asian department store throughout Hong Kong and China. Net-A-Porter launched NET SUSTAIN, a new platform driven by the desire to make fashion more sustainable, and invited NAGNATA to be a part of the small selection of brands to feature on the program. NAGNATA undertook a sustainability auditing process before being accepted onto the program in June 2019.

NAGNATA show regularly in New York and Paris and have recently secured an LA studio space for the brand. NAGNATA's flagship design studio and retail store is based in Byron Bay, Australia.



The finalists were selected from over 45 applications, by an esteemed panel of industry experts. The judges included Edwina McCann (Editorial Director of Vogue Australia, Vogue Living, GQ Australia and Co-Chair of Australian Fashion Council), Marc Freeman (Director of CAMILLA AND MARC), Caterina Scardino (Fashion Stylist) and Melinda Tually (Responsible Sourcing Strategist - Fashion & Retail for Ndless: The New Normal).

Now in its eighth year this award is evolving with the industry and customers’ demands for sustainable fashion. Westpac Private Bank is proud to support Australia’s emerging fashion talent in taking their businesses to the next level and to create enduring success
— Ashley Stewart, General Manager Private Wealth
The Australian Fashion Council is proud to see such a diverse and gifted line up of finalists for 2020. Commas, Mndatory and Nagnata represent the high calibre of local emerging talent and prove that the future of fashion in Australia is something to be excited about
— Leila Naja Hibri, Australian Fashion Council CEO

This year is the first time the award was open to entries from both menswear and womenswear labels. It also marks the second year of a stronger focus on the responsible efforts of the labels involved, with applicants being judged on their sustainability and ethical practice.

The three finalists will present their collections alongside some of Australia’s most successful designers in April, including Bianca Spender, CAMILLA AND MARC, Carla Zampatti, Ginger & Smart, Manning Cartell, Rachel Gilbert, Oroton and Scanlan Theodore. Of the three finalists, one designer will be announced as the winner on the night and will receive a prize valued at over $120,000. This year’s prize includes:

  • A $10,000 (including GST) cash grant provided by Westpac Private Bank

  • 12 months free insurance provided by Westpac 

  • Financial planning services provided by Viridian Advisory for two years

  • Business advisory, strategy, accounting and wealth services for two years provided by Bentleys NSW

  • Legal advice provided by Gilbert + Tobin for two years

  • A Vogue Australia produced and styled look book

  • A Toni & Guy Australia professional hair service package

  • Linda Jefferyes makeup service package

  • Emirates return Business Class flights for two

  • A one-year subscription to Flaunter a digital platform connecting brands & media

  • Two mentoring sessions with two fashion industry icons provided by the Australian Fashion Council.

The initiative was first established in 2013 (under the BT brand) and has since become one of Australia’s most esteemed designer awards. It has fostered the success of a number of Australian designers, as they develop from emerging labels into household names, including; Blair Archibald (2019), Albus Lumen (2018), Kacey Devlin (2017), macgraw (2016), Emma Mulholland (2015), Michael Lo Sordo (2014) and Christopher Esber (2013). 

Westpac Private Bank is proud to support the charity Dress for Success Sydney, whose mission is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and development tools.

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