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Fashion Q&A: Deborah Symond, founder of Mode Sportif

24th May, 2017

As the founder of Mode Sportif, the online boutique that specialises in luxe athleisure and leisurewear, it seems Deborah Symond was destined to head up a hugely successful business. Given her father is the founder of Aussie Home Loans, John Symond, you could argue business acumen is in her genes. Along with the website, Mode Sportif now has a bricks and mortar store in Sydney’s Paddington and it seems the brand shows no signs of waning. I recently sat down with Symond, to chat all things fashion, business and her essentials for nailing stylish off-duty style.

How would you describe your relationship with your father?

I am very lucky – Dad and I have a great relationship. Maintaining a strong relationship has been important to both of us since I was very young. We speak on the phone every day and have breakfast together once a week (at a minimum). Father/daughter relationship aside, he is my business mentor and a huge support for Mode Sportif. I’m extremely thankful for him guiding me through the bumps and wins that come with owning your own business.

What is the best advice he has ever given you?

The best advice Dad has ever given me is to trust my gut instinct. It’s something I live by both professionally and personally.

What is your own favourite ready-to-wear fashion piece?

How to pick one?! That could be a crime.

What inspired you to create the ultimate luxury leisurewear destination?

I was becoming more and more aware of emerging and exciting brands in the athleisure space and a lack of retailers providing a one-stop shop for designer sneakers, off-duty fashion and luxe activewear. It was upon identifying a gap in the market that the first concept of Mode Sportif was born!

What are your top 5 favourite pieces for ‘off duty dressing’?

Fresh, white kicks – Common Projects sneakers add an athleisure edge to any off-duty look.

A relaxed pant – a designer jogger pant in a luxe fabrication is a timeless staple in your off-duty wardrobe. Wear with sneakers and a t-shirt, or style with heels and a knit for drinks and dinner.

A monochrome tee – A favourite amongst the street style crowd, a graphic t-shirt in monochrome tones is an athleisure essential. The Sandrine Rose t-shirts are amazing quality with subtle, fun details.

 

A cross-body bag – athleisure fashion lends itself to practicality. The ultimate statement accessory for your off-duty look is the black leather cross body by Alexander Wang. The statement silver hardware makes this bag a must-have.

Statement sunglasses – the cherry on top of off duty cool is a pair of statement sunglasses. I personally love a round frame with gold tones to elevate my leisurewear wardrobe. This Chloe pair is everything!

What exotic trends are we seeing in the market?

Across both active and leisure, floral prints are trending. We are seeing brands like 3.1 Phillip Lim, Ganni, Clare V, Iro and The Upside incorporate florals as a key theme in their collections this season.

What are the struggles of owning your own business?

No two days are alike when owning your own business. As much as that keeps me motivated, it can be challenging at times. My biggest struggle is finding a work life balance. An online boutique never sleeps, so no matter what I am doing or where I am Mode Sportif is always on my mind. Everything in life presents struggles, and I wouldn’t change a thing!

What has been your greatest achievement so far? 

Evolving the business to an omni-channel model. Creating a physical presence, and seeing Mode Sportif come to life at The Intersection in Paddington has been incredibly rewarding.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?

Happy, healthy and surrounded by passionate and driven people!

What growth do you think we will see in the activewear/ lifestyle category? 

We are consistently delighted by new and emerging brands coming out of the activewear space such as LNDR and Vaara. Activewear is growing to be equally as fashionable as it is technical and ready-to-wear labels are continuing to be inspired by sport. This sector has surpassed denim and has become a staple in women’s wardrobes.

 

Fashion

Australian Fashion Week 2017 Day Five Wrap Up

18th May, 2017

The Shows: Ten Pieces, Romance Was Born

Where: Onsite at Carriageworks for Romance Was Born; Offsite at Bondi Icebergs for Ten Pieces

My day started… at 8am, getting ready and making way to Bondi Beach where Ten Pieces showcased its collection at Icebergs.

My outfit today… was all about monochrome. I wanted a look that was sleek and sophisticated.

Favourite show… Romance was Born. I loved the theatre of it.

Big trends I saw… relaxed, casual, slouchy and bold styling at Ten Pieces. At Romance Was Born it was about really dramatic looks with a lots of sheer fabrics with exaggerated silhouettes along with pastels mixed with an 80s palette of deep blues and bright green sequins as well as fringing and lots of shimmer.

What I ate/drank… I stopped for lunch with actress Marta Dusseldorp at Cubby’s Kitchen in Surry Hills to interview her for a Date with Kate column. We went for a light meal of salad and assorted dips.

Photography and Video: Sophia Athas

Fashion, What I Wore

What I Wore: Australian Fashion Week 2017 Day Five

18th May, 2017

After yesterday’s vibrant look I wanted to dial it right back today and opted for a sleek monochrome ensemble for my last day at Fashion Week. I love a dress in crisp white—it’s just so effortless and classic. This Stella McCartney midi dress seemed perfect for today’s show at Bondi Beach, as it has a light and airy vibe, yet its structured silhouette makes it ideal for an industry event. I wanted to keep my accessories simple so I opted for my Stella McCartney clutch with star motif and the season’s must-have shoe style, the slimline sock boot. Sometimes keeping it simple just works.

Credits: Dress, Stella McCartney (from Belinda); Boots, Balenciaga, Clutch, Stella McCartney; Sunglasses, Dion Lee

Photography: Sophia Athas

Fashion

Australian Fashion Week 2017 Day Four Wrap Up

17th May, 2017

The Shows: Ginger & Smart, We Are Kindred and the Maggie Marilyn launch

Where: On site at Carriageworks for We Are Kindred; Offsite at the Art Gallery of NSW for Ginger & Smart

My day started… early with the first show kicking off at 8.30am for a 9am start for the Ginger & Smart show at the Art Gallery of NSW. I was up at 5am with the kids and out the door by 7.30am to make it to the show in time through peak hour traffic.

My outfit today… was all about colour. I wanted something vibrant and colourful. I opted for a pant and shirt combo to mix it up from my previous looks.

Favourite show… Ginger & Smart.

The one look I fell in love with… the soft pink dress at Ginger & Smart (pictured below) which had such unique detailing and texture.

Parties/events I attended… a lunch for New Zealand designer Maggie Marilyn at The Dolphin at Sydney’s Surry Hills. It was so nice to sit and enjoy lunch with other industry people. I also did a quick photo shoot at Sun Studios in Alexandria between shows. The shoot was with Dion Lee as he is putting together a portrait series to bring to life the Dion Lee [SUIT] collection and pays tribute to the women that have inspired the brand since its inception in 2009. I felt very honoured to be involved.

Big trends I saw… big silhouettes, ruffled textures, bold colours, interesting shapes and structures, sheer tulle, bold prints and organic prints at Ginger & Smart. Meanwhile at We Are Kindred it was ultra feminine with lots of lace, pastels, prints, florals, along with layering of textures and a touch of boho.

Big trends I saw on attendees… there was more suiting on show along with bomber jackets and faux fur in bold colours.

What I ate/drank… at the Maggie Marilyn lunch I enjoyed antipasti followed by roast chicken with wood fired fennel, pizza romana and salad.

Photography and Video: Sophia Athas

Fashion

Australian Fashion Week 2017 Day Three Wrap Up

16th May, 2017

The Shows: Hansen and Gretel, Bec & Bridge, Christopher Esber

Where: On site at Carriageworks for Hansel and Gretel; Offsite at David Jones for Bec & Bridge and The Clothing Store for Christopher Esber

My day started… bright and early at 9am.

My outfit today… was all about pink hues and velvet. I’m loving the velvet trend at the moment so today I literally wore it from head to toe!

Favourite show… Christopher Esber.

The one look I fell in love with… a candy striped top and skirt combination at the Christopher Esber show (pictured below).

Big trends I saw… vintage floral prints, feminine silhouettes, midi skirts and ruffles but with cheeky side of sheer and swimwear at Hansen and Gretel. Meanwhile at Bec & Bridge it was all about structured ruffles, shirting, polka dots, bare shoulders, bright colours (namely bright red and electric blue), silk shifts and short party dresses. Christopher Esber’s show focused on shirting, tailoring, trenches, pops of colour and figure hugging knits.

Big trends I saw on attendees…there has certainly been no shortage of great outfits on show. I’ve been seeing a lot of suits on women, skirt and top combinations, knits with longer skirts, combining casual with luxe and lots of layering.

What I ate/drank… I squeezed in a Date with Kate interview with TV personality Jessica Kahawaty over lunch at Catalina in Rose Bay in between shows. We ate fish and pasta which helped keep my energy levels up!

I stopped at Bambini Trust in the CBD for an afternoon wine with my team to recharge, download pics, edits and catch up on some work. It was so good I went back to there for dinner with Ksenija Lukich, Nadia Fairfax, Rey Vakili and Hoda Waterhouse before heading to the Christopher Esber show.

Photography and Video: Sophia Athas

Fashion

Australian Fashion Week 2017 Day Two Wrap Up

16th May, 2017

The Shows: Alice McCall, Bianca Spender, Albus Lumen

Where: On site at Carriageworks for Alice McCall and Bianca Spender; Offsite at La Porte Space for Albus Lumen which was a great site to showcase a beautiful collection.

My day started… at 9am and I hit the ground running and straight to Carriageworks for a 10am show. First up was Alice McCall and it was a gorgeous way to start the morning.

My outfit today… was all about colour! I wanted something bright and feminine for the first full day at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. I wore a Camilla and Marc top and skirt and loved how it was flowy and soft. I teamed it with Gucci heels and bag and Saint Laurent sunnies to add a bit of fun!

Favourite show… I loved Albus Lumen at La Porte Space—being able to showcase a collection in a unique space really has an impact. It really complemented the beach, minimalist vibe of the show. 

The one look I fell in love with…A yellow dress at Albus Lumen (pictured). I also loved the jewellery in Bianca Spender which was designed by Dinosaur Designs and the 90s Chanel vibe of Alice McCall.

Big trends I saw… 90s Chanel, beautiful tailoring, bright colour palettes.

What I ate/drank…my photographer and I stopped at Bread and Circus for lunch and refueled on salads and soup as we downloaded pics and caught up on work and emails before heading to the Albus Lumen show.

Photography and Video: Sophia Athas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wG1bnpbEB0

 

Fashion, What I Wore

What I Wore: Australian Fashion Week 2017 Day Two

15th May, 2017

I can’t resist a beautiful print so it’s no surprise that I fell in love with this beautiful Camilla and Marc top and skirt the moment I saw it. The pale mint hue of both pieces is so fresh and is a classic, feminine look that can I can see working for everything from a work event to a special dinner. When it comes to skirts I’m a big fan of the midi length as it always looks polished. Choosing my accessories today I was in the mood for something bold so I opted for my gold Gucci heels (the metallic shade is also a match made in heaven with green) and I couldn’t resist a touch more Gucci and decided to wear my chain strap Dionysus bag from the label. Sunglasses are a must when running from show to show so I made sure to bring my new Saint Laurent frames.

Credits: Top and skirt (in Cinzia print, coming soon), Camilla and Marc; Heels and (similar) bag, Gucci, Sunglasses, Saint Laurent

Photography: Sophia Athas

Fashion

How I’m getting ready for Fashion Week

12th May, 2017

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia is one of the biggest events in the fashion calendar in this country and with a hectic week ahead of me I’ve got to make sure that my wardrobe is organised and ready for the next few days ahead—this is one of those times when I can’t afford a morning outfit crisis!

I’m quite decisive when it comes to my outfits and know that I want to wear something the moment I see it. That said, when I’m prepping my looks I make sure to consider all aspects of my outfit from head to toe; it all has to gel. As Fashion Week is mostly a daytime event I don’t like to look too dressy but I do make sure that whatever I’m wearing is stylish and polished yet not too overdone. It’s also a great time to be able to roadtest new trends that I’m loving and most importantly to have fun with my wardrobe (it is Fashion Week after all).

I almost always incorporate colour into my looks and also have a jacket or coat with me at all times as the weather can sometimes get cool. As I like to have everything look cohesive, I always make sure that my jacket or coat is considered and not just a last minute afterthought to throw on over what I’m wearing as this can end up looking a bit haphazard. One thing I don’t mind leaving to the last minute is my accessories. As I have my entire outfit planned ahead of time it’s not too stressful selecting what I’ll be accessorising my outfit with on the day as I like to choose it depending on the vibe I’m feeling that day.

It’s always a great time to support some of my favourite Australian designers so this year I’ll be wearing Bec & Bridge, Christopher Esber, Tome and Dion Lee. They’re always guaranteed to have pieces that I love and are very “me” in their aesthetic. As I mentioned I like to experiment and play with new trends, but one in particular that I’m loving at the moment is velvet so you’ll definitely see me incorporating it into my looks for the week (watch this space to see how I end up styling it into my outfits).

There are so many designers that I love who are showing this year but I’m especially excited about attending Dion Lee, Bec & Bridge, Romance Was Born and Ten Pieces. I’m sure that they won’t disappoint. It’s always an insanely busy week for me but I really enjoy Fashion Week as it’s a great time to get some fashion inspiration and also to see what I’ll be wearing in a few months time. I can’t wait for it all to kick off this Sunday!

P.S Don’t forget to check in on the blog, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter throughout the week for all my Fashion Week coverage.

Fashion

What’s on my shopping list this month

11th May, 2017

Prepping for Fashion Week next week has been downright dangerous for my bank account given how many amazing things I’ve seen in the process. There are just way too many beautiful things this season and as a result my wishlist has never been so lengthy! No doubt attending all the shows will see it grow even more but in the meantime here’s what’s got me wanting to hit double tap…

Camilla & Marc Zoey ankle boot

A slim ankle boot is a must during the cooler months and I can see myself wearing this with everything from pants to jeans and skirts.

Camilla & Marc Burke top

The pared back style of this top makes it quite versatile and therefore I know I am guaranteed to have it on high rotation. Well worth the investment.

Nicholas leather zip biker jacket

A leather jacket is something I can’t live without and this fitted, moto-inspired style is definitely love at first sight.

Alison Lou Love U enamel cuff

I love simple, unfussy jewellery and this is cuff is understated and elegant. The heart is beyond adorable.

Kuboraum round sunglasses

As you know I love nothing more than a great pair of sunglasses. These tortoiseshell 60s style frames are the perfect finishing touch to an outfit.

Zimmermann Divinity midi dress

Virtually any dress by Zimmermann I’m guaranteed to fall in love with so it was no surprise that this particular style ticked all the right boxes. The combination of sheer silk, ruffles and embroidery is downright dreamy.

Gucci twill mini dress

Can Gucci do no wrong? This dress would be ideal for a long lunch with the girls. I especially love the signature striped waistband.

Alexandre Birman Lipman suede sandals

All things pink is very much on trend at the moment so it’s hard to resist these heels, with its ultra feminine finishes and oh-so pretty hue.

Tabitha Simmons Leticia suede sandals

I’ve been after a dressy shoe that’s also comfy and this pair with its block heel and pink rick rack finish definitely fits the bill.

Saint Laurent monogram shoulder bag

A classic bag that will stand the test of time. This shoulder bag is definitely a wardrobe addition that would get plenty of wear.

Gucci ‘Princetown’ jacquard mules

I’ve got a similar pair in black and love the style so when I saw this particular incarnation in such a bold, striking print it definitely had me hooked.

Theatre Products stitched trimmed belt

Don’t underestimate the power of a statement belt. This particular style would work well with myriad outfits and add an understated pop of colour.

Cosabella Never Say Never Sweetie soft bra

The right lingerie can really make or break an outfit and this soft bra is comfy, sexy and stylish all rolled up in one pretty lace package.

Thurley Valencia midi dress

The floral lace is a showstopper and I love the cutout shoulders and asymmetrical hem.

Oscar de la Renta Sun Star clip on earrings

A bold pair of ear candy is always a great way to bring an outfit to life. This pair by Oscar de la Renta with its starburst style and pearl centre would really elevate a look.

Mugler strapless sweetheart jumpsuit

A great way to mix up evening wear is to opt for a jumpsuit. I could see this being worked back with a great pair of stilettos and statement jewellery.

 

 

 

Fashion

From activewear to loungewear: One shoe. Two ways.

9th May, 2017

I’ve always been about making sure that everything in my wardrobe works in multiple ways. Versatility is key after all to making sure that you get more bang for your fashion buck. This is why it’s been important to me to ensure that my footwear can work in myriad ways. Whilst I love a white sneaker I’ve also been wanting to break out of my trainer rut into something a little bit different which is why I’ve really jumped on the new Nike Air Max Zero. I’ve been on the hunt for sneaker that I can wear during a work out and a casual weekend look without ever missing a beat and now that I’ve finally found it I could kiss my Airs! The style was created by legendary streetwear designer Hiroshi Fujiwara and is a great mix of classic style and modern comfort and is in keeping with my aesthetic for neutral pieces whilst being on trend.

The one thing I really love about the blurring of the lines between activewear and loungewear is that I’ve essentially doubled the use of a lot of items in my wardrobe without having to really do much (or spend much) at all. In this instance these Air Max can now stand in place of my usual go-to white sneaker in that I can wear it with a top and skirt and a cosy cardi, team it with on trend pieces such as a black backpack and round sunglasses and it looks quite relaxed but still pulled together. It can also work equally as well with a dress or cropped jeans which extends its wear even more. And when I do want to wear these sneakers to work out I can dress up my look a bit by keeping my ensemble in a monochrome palette and adding accessories such as tortoiseshell sunglasses and a leather monogram backpack to elevate it from being just a regular gym outfit. The bonus is that regardless of which look I opt for style is definitely not compromised for comfort – and both are definitely a must for juggling a busy work/mum schedule like mine.

My loungewear look

My activewear look

Pick your own pair:

Photography: Sophia Athas

This post was created in collaboration with Nike