Nurturing Local Interest in South Australian Design – Lily Lou

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Nurturing Local Interest in  South Australian Design is the driver for Adelaide woman  Lily Lou to stay in Adelaide.  Having worked previously in Melbourne and in Sydney, Adelaide-based Lily Lou’s well aware of the inclination of young South Australians to leave their home state as soon as they’ve finished studying. At the helm of SA Designer Co., a  retail outlet that specializes in South Australian Designers, Lily is firmly focused on the importance of nurturing local talent and she’s made it her mission to make sure South Australian Designers get the recognition and retail sales they deserve. Dimitra Koriozos wanted to find out how this local champion of South Australian fashion got started and where she’s taking her specialist project. Here’s what Lily had to say…

“I’ve lived and breathed fashion from a very young age,” reveals Lily, in what is undoubtedly the least surprising moment of our interview. “I was obsessed with Vogue and FTV back in the day.  A lot of that influence had to do with my mum and my grandmother. The addiction to fashion has generally been right from the get go.”

This natural inclination towards all things fashion paved the way for Lily’s work as a stylist, which in turn led to her to question the lack of support that appeared to permeate certain areas of the industry.

“In recent years working as a stylist, I realised that a bit more support was needed in the industry. I was lucky enough to work with a local Adelaide designer, Hue Le, and she developed an amazing concept that involved putting on runway shows for local designers. After a while we thought it was time to take runway to retail, and Fashion Concept Collective was born.”

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With Hue Le returning to her fashion label Willow & Grace at the end of 2015, Lily decided to take over the retail space, now re-named SA Designer Co., and has since been busy tending to the CBD showroom and lining up exciting collaborative projects.

“The biggest thing I’ve noticed over the last twelve months of trying to keep things here in Adelaide, is that we’re going to continue to increase the growth of our industry. Fashion is so universal and goes across so many fields, so we’re hoping we can give a permanent platform here and create some permanent opportunities.”

Currently stocking 22 South Australian labels, SA Designer Co. is not only committed to supporting local trade, but also fosters community spirit and encourages collaboration within the industry.

It’s not unusual for creatives to flee their hometowns, enticed by the plethora of opportunities available elsewhere. But with rising rent prices in major cities and an increasingly competitive landscape to contend with, this common trajectory might just be losing its appeal. Having worked interstate herself, Lily is familiar with this plight.

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“I’ve worked a lot in Melbourne, a couple of times in Sydney as well. The workflow there is a lot bigger, but what I’ve realised is that if we can collectively create a demand where we are and create a hype where we are then eventually people are going to want to meet that demand and they’re going to want to see that hype.”

“2016 sees some massive additions to the platform. I can’t say too much but there will be more runway shows, fashion related workshops, hype all round! SA fashion is about to go boom.”

Lily’s enthusiasm for the project is catching, and we can hardly wait for what’s next.

You can find out more about SA Designer Co. and the amazing labels they stock by heading to www.sadesignerco.com.

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Story & Photos: Dimitra Koriozos

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