We’ve stolen 10 minutes of Kara Reardon’s time over a coffee (extra hot latte for Kara) because Melbourne is one of the coffee capitals of the world, and certainly the coffee capital of Australia (sorry Sydneysiders!) Kara is Co-Director of The Make, a Melbourne based boutique wholesale fashion and lifestyle agency, established in 2012. Kara’s worked with iconic Australia brands such as Nicola Finetti, Nicholas and White Suede. Kara established The Make with Co-Founder Catherine Field to bring her expertise to more independent brands. Kara is a passionate advocate of local fashion labels, and thrives on working closely with each of them to find success.
How would you describe Australian style? How does it differ across the country?
Australian style is very similar to our lifestyle, mainly laid back but still very fashion conscious. Australians love well-made clothing and natural fibres ( especially in our warmer states). I think I would best describe Australian style as ‘effortless, that can be dressed up or down’. We love a good beach-to-bar outfit.
I am from Melbourne, Victoria (‘down south’) so our winters are prolonged and cold compared to ‘up north’. I would say Melbourne and Sydney are the most influential cities in terms of fashion in Australia, though there’s a noticeable fashion difference between the two. Sydney, and in particular Bondi is very body-conscious, and Sydneysiders lead very active lifestyles. It makes sense their style reflects this. Activewear or athleisure (as it’s more commonly referred to) has become the norm. Melbourne is colder and can sometimes have four seasons in one day, so we have a more European style of dressing, with a strong focus on outerwear.
What can other countries around the globe take from Australians and apply to their style?
I think other countries can certainly learn a lot from how we adapt trends to accommodate our laid-back lifestyle. Other countries can learn from the way we blur the lines between active wear and day-to-day clothing.
Kara, you lived in the UK for a few years. How do you think living in London influenced your style? What do you like about British style? What other countries’ fashion do you admire, and why?
I did! London massively influenced my style when I was living there. I was so so inspired with London fashion. I believe British fashion is some of the best in the world. I was obsessed with the street style in London. I feel like London really celebrates individuality. It was in London that I began my love affair with leather jackets and good quality coats.
Paris, in France, is also one of my favourite places for fashion. French women are so effortlessly cool, they have such a controlled, well-cultivated look. They know themselves and stick to their signature pieces.
I also really love Scandinavian fashion. Scandinavia is a bit of a melting pot of diverse fashion cultures. I think the Scandinavians also nail the ‘less-is-more’ look, and were at the forefront of the minimalist trend.
Being ‘out of season’ with northern hemisphere fashion – does that see Australia follow trends or create its own trends, or sub-trends?
I actually think a bit of both! We often see trends coming through internationally first, and if it is something that is suitable to our lifestyle then I do think we follow suit. In saying that, Australians also create our own trends and I 100% definitely see sub-trends. We definitely do have our own thing going on here that I don’t see anywhere else.
What shift have you seen in your industry in terms of ethical sourcing and conscious purchasing? How do you think this will continue to evolve?
I have definitely seen a massive shift within the fashion industry towards ethical sourcing and conscious purchasing. I think there is still a long way to go – with fast fashion still a massive player in the industry, but I think once the consumer slowly becomes more educated it will have a domino effect on the brands.
What do you see as emerging trends? Will we move away from loungewear?!
I think the pandemic has impacted greatly on our style, loungewear has become a permanent fixture in our wardrobes and now we are seeing a transition with loungewear being worked back with fashion pieces. A strong trend is tracksuits styled back with structured coats and oversized blazers.
After what was such a hard lockdown, consumers are wanting to have a bit of fun with fashion again so further into SS21 we will see strong pops of colour emerge, in particularly with strong pinks, greens and blues.
We will see lots of oversize man style shirting which will be the new silhouette of the Summer. Whether it's layered over a bikini or paired back with a chic trouser, this style will be one strong trend in SS21.
Do people still want to go into boutiques to view and try on before they buy? Or do you envisage there will continue to be a bigger drive to online?
I know that there has been a huge rise in online shopping due to the pandemic, and consumers that were not so confident in this form of shopping were forced into doing so across this period. I believe consumers are now more confident in this form of purchasing, which will definitely impact ‘in store’ sales. The future is online, however there will always be a percentage of consumers who need to feel and touch the product and enjoy the face-to-face customer service experience.
Which are your favourite Australian brands and what do you love about them?
This is such a tough question. I love so many Australian brands, but here are a few of my go-to’s:
- Friend of Audrey
- Zulu and Zephyr
- Camilla and Marc
We are big fans of those brands too Kara. Zulu and Zephyr, are also a cult Bondi brand. Again, so hard to narrow down but brands we love are Sir, Venroy and Matteau as well. I think there is so much great talent In Australia in terms of designers and brands, and the world is really starting to take notice of them now, it's an exciting time! Thanks for all your insights Kara, really wonderful chatting to you.