Counting Eilish Gilligan, Stonefield, The Veronicas and Courtney Barnett as client/buddies and having designed furnishings for hip Brunswick bars, co-founder of Melbourne label Vovo Phoebe Taylor says, "Since the inception of our band Bitch Diesel, we have used outrageous costuming to help evoke powerful, confident on-stage personas which aids in overcoming stage fright.
"Over time it has become a bit of a signature characteristic of the band and we are often approached to create something special and unique for other musicians’ performances and even film clips.
"Word travels swiftly in this old town," the newcomer to Melbourne Fashion Week 2019 says.
If you think of Punk music, most of us conjure up a pretty hard-core image, yet Vovo’s designs are tailored and pretty – to this co-founder Ash says, "We are capable of anything," as they sit making patterns from scratch in their studio in Abbotsford, Melbourne, preparing costumes for their own upcoming tour as well as commissioned pieces for clients.
It’s the same ‘jump in the deep end’ approach they have to their music – they learned to play their musical instruments up on stage; trial and error right there in front of the audience.
Hundreds of gigs later and they’ve conquered the instruments and their stage fright.
Ash says, "Vovo is a chance to look outside conformity and really push boundaries and play with wild concepts. The brand has evolved with us over the last couple of years and has morphed and swayed to where it is now.
"This same notion applies to Bitch Diesel. We are lucky in that we can have the freedom to express ourselves in both of these creative ventures."
Phoebe adds, "Everything has a story to be told. I’m so busy that I don’t have time to be sucked into the world of looking at what other brands are doing, what is trending etc. That, in itself, tends to lend itself to fresh ideas that don’t necessarily adhere to the norm."
Vovo follows a slow fashion model - a 'make to order' strategy that largely incorporates the use of remnant or dead-stock fabrics. Buying a Vovo piece is a considered purchase, made to last indefinitely and to not contribute to land fill.
Ash says,"Sustainability is a key concept for us and something that has inevitably become a big talking point based on the current environmental, social and political scene."
Fiercely protective of their intellectual property, their bread-and-butter, Phoebe and Ash see the fashion industry as perhaps lagging a little behind the music industry in terms of legal protection for original works.
The Australian music industry has organisations such as APRA AMCOS and PPCA to protect the rights of music creators and OneMusic Australia (a collab of the two) to issue annual licences to businesses playing music, and more than 140,000 locations have that permission in place.
"When I walk into a bar or a shop and I see that little OneMusic ‘Licensed to Play’ sticker near the till I feel some crazy respect for that venue," Phoebe says.
"APRA AMCOS (the music rights organisation for songwriters which Ash and Phoebe belong to) is super supportive and has helped to retrieve us from several pickles.
"The team are amazing at dealing with dummies feeling their way along the music industry in the dark.
"We receive royalties from them at various stages throughout the year some of that must come from shops and bars who pay a licence fee! We are just waiting until the day we make ‘that hit’ and then we will all be rich!" Phoebe says.
Every retail fashion business in the country playing music in-store or at launch fashion events needs permission from musicians like Phoebe and Ash to switch that music on for customers or staff.
If you don’t have Phoebe and Ash’s number in your contacts to ask their permission (nor Jess Mauboy’s, Sia’s or Troye Sivan’s) you’re better off contacting OneMusic on 1300 162 62 or onemusic.com.au to arrange permission to use virtually any commercially released music from anywhere in the world.
Vovo were invited for the first time to participate in Melbourne Fashion Week’s sustainability runway in early September 2019 ahead of the showcase of their debut collection in Melbourne Spring Fashion Week.
Their pieces are available on Instagram @vovo_thelabel