In Conversation with Lisa Barron
This is how it went.
It was 1983, I had grown up, gone to school, ridden dirt bikes, water skied, been a punk, a burger flipper and spent two years at Fashion School all in my home city of Perth, WA. I was 21. Fashion school bored me, I was sewing the equivalent of my semesters assignments every weekend in the form of shredded leather garments, with studded details for a local punk shop. Regardless of my boredom, hard work paid off and I was awarded a Fashion Excellence Award. I believe my work ethic stemmed from my upbringing. I was raised by a family who always told me I could do anything and be anything I set my mind to, which ranged from a rockstar to an Olympic horse rider to an undercover drug detective. At this point though, my mind was set on fashion and Melbourne.
So, with $500, a sewing machine and a lot of Oblivyism (I made this word up, it means oblivious optimism) I flew across Australia to the cool, black and white city of Melbourne. The vibe of Melbourne was how I imagined Soho, New York to be in the 60s. It was budding. There were young groups of fashion designers and creatives forming collaborations and organisations to push forwards their thoughts and ideas on how things should look in the 80s. It was fuelled by music, politics and world events. In short, for a 21-year-old Perth girl, it was freaking cool.
What changes have you seen in the Fashion industry since starting out? The good, the bad and the ugly.
So many changes and predominately it is attitude changes. Fashion just cycles through with slight amendments, but it is our response and value system to fashion which changes. We have come from slow fashion of the 40s-60s couturiers who masterfully created garments to be noticed and to last. Fast track through to the 2010s and fashion also got faster and lost its lustre to become the biggest landfill problem in the world.
Thankfully as a society we seem to be rediscovering the value of quality and craftsmanship again. The message is getting through that you cannot be a nature warrior and buy t-shirts for $14.95 by exploited children offshore.
One of the biggest changes in the industry was through the ’80s and ’90s, fashion was becoming global and the birth of the personified supermodel was happening.
At that time I was selling to some of the most iconic fashion retailers in the country and that’s what led to Lisa Barron being asked to participate in all of the major festivals, shows and events, dressing supermodels such as Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Helena Christensen as well as being a part of the first Melbourne Fashion Festival in 1992 and every festival to this day. The only designer in Australia to do so.
How has COVID-19 impacted you and your team and what measures have you put in place during this time?
Well, what can one say, as a retailer and manufacturer it has certainly challenged the way we think and has shifted us off our laurels to re-imagine how we connect with our clients and pre-empt what they could possibly want in their lives from this company. It certainly helps having a brand with a history of over 3 decades because what comes with that is trust and having an audience you can be frank with regarding the COVID difficulties makes the messaging easier. So we have done one online fashion runway launch in March 2020, just after the first lockdown which was a great success. Thinking that would be a one-off situation, we now find ourselves preparing for our Summer launch online runway again on Sept 23rd. You just have to go with the flow.
How do you and you and your team stay relevant in today's ever-changing world?
We stay connected, listen a lot, watch a lot, not of other brands but of the worlds creative goings-on. Collaborating with those outside the fashion world is important to us. In March this year, we launched our first of what was to be many collaborations for 2020 with globally acclaimed tattoo artist Mayonaize. We used his unique calligraphy style brush strokes on fabric and silk scarves. It was a very unlikely match and that is what made it so exciting. We also enjoy a small but diverse team with ages ranging from 20’s to 70’s. That’s how you get perspective.
What would your advice be to someone wanting to become a fashion Designer?
Keep all options open, there are so many rewarding careers in this industry, don’t get stuck on one or you may get stuck with none. Never let opportunities pass you by, learn how to recognise them. However, opportunity is pointless without hard work. Kevin Durant once said, “hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard”.
See more of what Lisa does on her website – www.lisabarron.com.au
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