You won’t find many others as passionate about the Australian fashion industry than our next Style Stories subject, Jade Cosgrove. That doesn’t mean she won’t share some hard truths about the state of the Aussie scene either. We sit down with Jade to chat about the brilliant talent within our local industry and the fight to keep it alive.
Can you tell us about your background and how you came to love fashion and launch your company, Label Ministry?
I’ve run Label Ministry for coming up to 7 years. I’m an ex-retailer and I sold predominantly Australian labels, which I grew to love. In loving them, I became very interested in the quest for their expansion. But sadly, in those days, they weren’t expanding, they were shrinking. It was around the same time as when Kit Willow had lost her label, and that highlighted my interest in watching label’s growth. Or in many cases, their lack of growth and working out why that was. So my interest piqued and I closed my store.
Before closing though, I had become well known as a stylist, building wardrobes for people and helping them to better understand how to style themselves. So I wrote a course called Body Architecture, that I still deliver sometimes, which explores the proportions of the body and helps people understand how to dress their particular figure. I wrote the course almost 20 years ago but it all rings true today and the last time I delivered the course was only last year.
But about 7 years ago, Label Ministry was born. It was developed as an advocacy and reporting platform of Australian fashion and how we need to support Australian fashion and designers. It’s grown into a platform for creative people to show how hard we work in order to keep the industry afloat. And how hard these people work to make sure the industry will survive because there are moments when I question whether or not it will survive.
What sorts of things does Label Ministry do to help promote Australian fashion?
I cover major fashion events like Australian fashion week and in a weeks time I will go to New Zealand and cover that platform. I am going to that particular show with an Australian swimwear group. And to my knowledge, it’s the first time an Australian swimwear label has shown in New Zealand which is an interesting event. And I’ve just been able to confirm Imogen Anthony will be walking in that show also.
Do you feel it’s important to have Australian faces representing Australian brands?
Yes, I think we have such a unique fashion aesthetic here in Australia. We really are on our own there. And I don’t think there is anywhere in the world who can trump what we do. That’s confirmed by the fact that any time a creative team goes anywhere in the world, we’re asked to go back. We are really good at what we do. And in light of all that, it would be a real shame to allow our local labels to shrink. It could lead to no industry at all.
What are your views on manufacturing overseas?
I think it’s tragic. Although I understand why they do it economically, I think it’s tragic. I wish it wasn’t that way for them and I hope one day that our local manufacturing industry will be restored. In the meantime, I do understand it’s a necessary evil, but I do think it is an evil. From that perspective, we’re rotting from the inside out.
What are the highlights for Label Ministry in the 7 years since it began?
The collaboration with Universal Brand Development for the launch of Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom. In April, I produced a runway show that was totally inspired by the Jurrasic movie. There were 7 Australian designers who put out a total of 88 looks that were all Jurrasic-inspired. Some were licensed product for sale others were inspired by Jurassic, but it was all approved by the Speilberg group to make sure it was in line with the authentic Jurassic inspiration.
How did that come about?
It came about because I am looking for change. I want to see how we can do things differently. I believe that collaborations are a way of the future and when you start talking to people about interesting ideas, magic happens. I believe that when you have a dream like that and you work hard enough it culminates in something incredible.
We’re interested to see what the future holds for Label Ministry and the effect it can have on the Australian fashion scene. We wish Jade the best of luck – with a cheerleader like Jade on the sidelines we’re excited to see the waves she can make.
Read more style stories with Lynne McGranger and Nicky Buckley.