What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to face with your label and breaking into such a competitive industry?
The biggest challenge for any fashion brand in the current market is to constantly keep the collection interesting, relevant and exciting for both our existing and new customers.  The women that shop with us are intelligent, fashionable and international and expect exceptional design and quality from our brand, which we always deliver.

How do you go about sourcing fabrics for your collections?
We really are less about the high street and disposable fashion and instead about the democratisation of luxury and crafting beautifully tailored, fashion pieces cut from the most luxurious fabrics we can find. Our fabrics are sourced from Italian mills that are also a resource for renowned luxury brands and some of our prints are still worked up in Como, Italy.  We use traditional textures and methods such as our French levers lace that is woven on 100 year old looms.

Where do you manufacture your clothing?
Every piece in our collections is designed, pattern-cut, fitted and finished in our dedicated in-house design studio and Atelier in Shoreditch London. Working in this way, with the design team involved in every stage of the creative process, allows us to engineer an exceptional level of quality into every piece.  

Some garments have up to twelve fittings to ensure that each piece is beautifully tailored and gives a sculpted tailored fit. Once we are happy that a piece is perfect, then it is manufactured for our stores at our factories in Europe and the Far East, we have long-standing relationships with our factories many of which we have worked with for over a decade.

How do you find your inspiration?
I really enjoy visiting my local markets and vintage stores in Hackney and Shoreditch as well as Spitalfields Market.  I am so lucky as they are right on my doorstep!  I am always enjoy people watching in Dalston and the Kingsland Road, looking at how people are putting clothes together to create really individual style statements, this always inspires me.

With the experience you’ve had in the industry, what advice would you give to an emerging Australian designer?
The key to being a success in the fashion industry is that you really have to enjoy what you do.  The key to having a successful fashion business is to primarily focus on your clients and the aim of delivering incredible product and an exceptional brand experience.  It is also crucial to understand your brand and to have a focused and consistent brand vision in order to continue to evolve and innovate with both the product and the retail environment.

Student 101: Adelaide designer Nikeisha Coulter is the founder of ready-to-wear label Tanouk, which she launched last year. Tanouk first emerged on the fashion scene at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia and is completely homegrown from design to Australian-made production.

 This story was first published in the ragtrader May 2014 issue.

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