My Day 3 wrap video, interviewing the designers behind Macgraw and We are Kindred.
Beth and Tessa Macgraw first launched their label in 2012 and since then their brand has amassed a celeb following that includes Lorda, Coco Rocha and Karlie Kloss. They’ve won prestigious awards including The Tiffany & Co. National Designer Award, The BT Award, The Regional International Woolmark Prize and The Australian Fashion Laureate for Best Emerging Designer. Macgraw is now available worldwide via online retailers such as Farfetch and Moda Operandi, and department stores David Jones and Lane Crawford. I caught up with Beth and Tessa ahead of their show about how they got into fashion, what it’s like to work with a sibling and the challenges they’ve faced to get where they are.
Congratulations on this amazing collection. How has Fashion Week been for you?
Tessa: Well, actually I think we’re quite calm this year. It’s always got its challenges and issues, but I think we’re handling them pretty well so far.
Beth: We’re having a different approach.
Tessa: We’re trying a different approach,
Beth: Yeah. It’s fashion, it doesn’t need to be stressful, it should be fun. I mean we like all our models to smile and be in a good mood on the runway.
That’s something you don’t always see. Is that something you focus on?
Tessa: We do. Yeah, we cast a smile. Which is kind of tricky. It’s challenging.
The collection is absolutely stunning. Can you tell us a little bit about the it?
Beth: So, we showed our collection at a beautiful gothic revival match in Cold Swiss in Darling Point. And as soon as we saw the architecture of the building we were quite inspired and knew we wanted to entwine that and work that into our collection. So, we kind of created a collection around the woman who would have resided there in its heyday. So, she’s pretty fab. She likes to-
Tessa: There’s an opium room in there, in the house. She’s a bit naughty I guess.
What is your favourite thing about Fashion Week?
Beth: I really love how it brings everyone together and builds, like there’s a lot of pre-events and then we go to our friends’ showing. So we go to their shows and they get to come to ours. The other time we get to see each other is in Paris.
Tessa: I think there’s an energy, I think it’s nice that everyone comes together. It’s an exciting week.
How did you both get into fashion in the first place?
Tessa: I studied fashion design way back when. We’ve grown up loving fashion.
Was that always a plan, to be designers?
Tessa: Pretty much, and to work together. Some people think we’re mad.
As sisters, what is it like to work with family?
Beth: It’s both, I mean, we’re very much on each other’s wavelength, we have a lot of non-verbal communication.
Tessa: I mean we get along, we do like each other. It helps, it does help, and I don’t think we’d be doing it if we didn’t.
Beth: It’s very important, though, that we have the same aesthetic and we gravitate to the same fabrics and if we didn’t, because we are quite honest and verbal about it, it probably wouldn’t work. So you need the personality mix to be right as well.
It must be so nice working together.
Tessa: I trust her and that’s pretty important I think in this industry.
Beth: We get to do it together, like we’re constantly pinching ourselves. And we get to go to Paris and we’re on the plane together and we’re in the shows together and-
Tessa: It’s a lot of time together, it is.
You only started the label five years ago and already you’ve had such huge success in that short time frame. What has been your secret?
Beth: Same focus I think, not growing too quickly for us,… You make a lot of mistakes. and you don’t want to make them in the best store or on the biggest celebrity, and it’s good to just learn and, what are your strengths and what’s her aesthetic, it takes a few years to work that out I think.
Tessa: I think it’s hard work as well, you’ve gotta commit to work till late at night and just all the time, you know, you’ve gotta be passionate. You just gotta love it.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in the Australian fashion industry?
Beth: We make in Australia, it can be challenging, I won’t lie, but it’s, for us, really important to be mainly made in Australia. And we make some things in Italy and some fabrics in Switzerland and different places but, I think it’s nice and I think a lot of our stores preach it that it’s made in Australia, definitely.
Tessa: The challenge, I think in the Australian industry is that we’re sort of getting a bit smaller in production so making in Australia I think is probably a challenge sometimes.
Beth: Probably the other thing is, I mean, they’re all kind of Australia-focused answers for me, like the fact that we’re so far away, has its benefits but it also can be quite hard for the distance. If you’re from the U.K. and you have to go on the train over to Paris Fashion Week, it’s a much bigger effort for us when we’re outside of the business. And breaking in can be a little bit harder but Instagram and the internet definitely has helped as well.
We have noticed that that’s a huge impact.
Tessa: Absolutely. We’ve had stylists reaching out to us through direct Instagram. If they see us around then they will help.
You’ve dressed some pretty amazing people. What has been the biggest pinch-me moment?
Tessa: Julianne Moore I think we both agree? That was pretty cool. I just loved that.
How does that happen?
Beth: Organic. They actually held an event for us in London and the InStyle editor walked in and she was like, “I’m shooting Julianne tomorrow. I’m going to put that on her.”
You’ve also teamed up with Vittoria Coffee again to create these beautiful Fashion Series cups. Tell me a bit about the story behind these and your inspiration.
Beth: We were inspired by love and love letters.
Beth: Tess draws out all of our sketches, all the love hearts are all sketched out. They’re a little sinister, they’re black love hearts these ones. This one has a little loyal sash and he flies in love. And we love colours as well.
You’ve teamed up with them for a few years now. Why is that so important to you?
Tessa: I think it’s a nice alignment they have the Fashion Series and we do prints in-house and as I said we draw them. I think it just, it’s a nice fit really.
Beth: And they’re a family run business. They’re a lovely team the Vittoria family.
I saw the beautiful campaign. It was shot by fashion photographer Sonny Vandevelde. Tell me a little about that.
Beth: We love Sonny. He’s backstage at every one of our shows. He’s kind of part of the family as well. Yes I hear they’re going to be life size light boxes of us.
Beth: It will be down at Carriageworks for Fashion Week. And then Vittoria also did a really cool art installation which took a few of our items like our shoes, and love letters and created a beautiful piece of art. That was cool.
Tessa: It’s really pretty what they’ve done this year.
Where do you see Macgraw in five years time?
Beth: Good question. Well I think we’ll be probably in here. Maybe we’ll be in a different studio in this space.
Tessa: Maybe a bigger space, yeah? We’ll probably have a couple more staff members I hope. Yeah I mean we want to grow overseas a bit more don’t we?
Beth: Europe and the US are in our sights at the moment. We’re already in a few stores but just a bit more focus there.
Videography: Ash Larden
Video brought to you by Vittoria Coffee.