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Emerging Exposure: 100 Squared

Every so often a retail experience comes around that endeavours to transcend mere moneymaking for something with a little more purpose behind it. This is exactly the case with the new city Westfield’s 100 Squared, a fixed marketplace for today’s emerging designers. Providing them with a flagship-type retail space in an area that boasts huge traffic, 100 Squared gives said designers a means to transgress the flurry of stockists and agents and sell direct to the public. The designers rotate every six months, giving plenty of fresh ideas a chance to take part in the concept.

100 Squared was founded by Sydney entrepreneur Justin Levy, who explains that the concept's measure of success is “to have an emerging designer come to us and leave us as an established designer.” By scouring the city’s markets, studios, fashion runways, and schools, Justin eventually sources fresh talent and asks them to submit their range or plans for the space. “The final selection is based on uniqueness, quality, commerciality and their future business goals,” he says. Benefiting from Westfield’s huge consumer market and exposure is an obvious bonus, but Justin stresses that it is the knowledge that the designers gain through the experience that benefits them the most, such as how to communicate on a daily basis with a large customer base, how to retail in a fast paced environment and develop staff.” As for where 100 Squared fits in with the world of retail, Justin puts it simply: “we offer customers a more intimate experience with direct access to the makers of the garments they are buying, as compared to the young sales assistants that are just trying to meet there sales targets in traditional retail stores. Most importantly, we maintain the discovery essence of a market where a piece of fashion you buy now could be from a designer that may just be the next big thing…”


We profile three of these “next biggest things”, who you can purchase over at 100 Squared today.


Christopher Dobosz


How long has your label been going for?
After graduating from East Sydney TAFE in 2009, I was selected as one of four students to showcase my graduate collection at the Rosemount Australian Fashion Week Innovators Show 2010. After debuting with a portfolio range, I went on to be named Mercedes Benz Australian fashion graduate of the year. In late 2010, I formed a partnership with Prea Jeffriess – still trading under the Christopher Dobosz name – and this has proved to be a vital mix of business and concept.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
Christopher Dobosz is an Australian womenswear label, inspired simply by the idea that we are able to create. Taking inspiration from literature, art, nature and culture past and present, we fuse innovative fabrics and traditional tailoring techniques to create a unique Antipodean signature.

Who is your customer?
Women looking for tailored, installation pieces, cut from different materials. We strive to design garments that speak to the wearer’s creative side and work to emphasise it.

How has being involved with 100 Squared benefited you?
Immensely! We wouldn’t be showcasing our first commercial collection at the New Gen show during RAFW without the sponsorship and support of 100 Squared.
Alongside that, it’s our first time retailing - actually our first commercial collection - so we’re learning all about the production process... at a very rapid rate!


Mok Theorem


How long has your label been going for?
We [sisters Gloria and Grace Mok] launched the Mok Theorem label at Bondi Markets in 2007. At the time, we were working in the corporate world by day, sewing by night and selling on the weekends. At the end of 2009, we both quit our jobs to pursue our label full time. 2010 saw us hold our first fashion show at the prestigious four-level Audi Centre Sydney showroom alongside a number of luxurious brands that were sponsoring the event.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
The essence of the brand is experimental and unpredictable, and our unique vision and eye for beauty has led to collections with quirky twists and bold detailing that is rapidly becoming our signature look.
Our garments stand for the elegance of simplicity coupled with a vibrant imagination. We aim to stand apart, and help the wearer of our garments do the same. They are designed not only to be a source of inspiration but also to modernise classic wardrobe must-haves.

Who is your customer?
A sophisticated, modern woman who is happy to let her creative instincts determine her own unique style, and who has the freedom to express herself through beautiful fabrics and textiles. We target women who - like us - believe that fashion is a trend, but style is timeless.

How has being involved with 100 Squared benefited you?
It’s given us the chance to be part of a prestigious shopping centre and gain incredible exposure in such a prominent area. The daily interaction we have with customers has been priceless - we’ve learnt a lot from a consumer’s perspective, such as what they look for and buy in a garment. It’s also helped us on a more practical, business level – such as setting budgets, timelines and delivery schedules for future collections. It’s been a great learning curve for us.


RECREATIONAL


How and why did your label start?
I (Emma Swann) studied textile design at Central St Martin’s college of Art & Design in London. After making one-off pieces of jewellery in my spare time, the commissions soon began rolling in. So much so that in 2008 I established the RECREATIONAL brand and began trading at the Fringe and Bondi markets.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
Inspired by today’s pop culture – whether graffiti art, music or technology – the pieces are reflective of my ironic sense of humour and are approached with a cheeky irreverence, ensuring the brand is “keepin’ it real” for its mass cool audience.

Who is your customer?
RECREATIONAL uses a range of different metals to suit all styles, genders, budgets and ages. The ‘pieces’ are aimed at cool discerning Men and Women who appreciate great design and who want to make a style statement. RECREATIONAL is the jewellery brand that reflects their lifestyle by being authentic and culturally relevant. We target the Gen Y mindset – those people that are living life to the full and are looking to mark each moment.

How has being involved with 100 Squared benefited you?
It’s helped to teach me how to operate a business and label. Things you don’t think about – for example, staffing – are big issues. Trying to find loyal and reliable people has been a challenge. But we’ve also met some great people who are incredibly inspiring. It’s also been great to reach a wider and more varied audience and get daily feedback on the products. Everything gets taken on board and into consideration for upcoming designs.


words: Seema Duggal

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