As a fashion blogger living in a smaller city like Canberra, you come to know a lot about how the local fashion scene and how it operates. You’ll make friends with designers, meet with the PR leaders for coffee, and you’ll start dropping the names of up-and coming designers and labels and expecting others to know exactly who you’re talking about.
You’ll also come to realise very quickly just how hard it is for designers to get a leg up in the industry, and just how difficult it is to find a space to work and create within a meager to non-existent budget.
As such, I’m thrilled to report that Canberran designers now have help to realise their aspirations in the form of a new not-for-profit providing space and support to fashion designers in the capital. The Canberra and Region Designers in Fashion (CARDIF), founded by Chris Lloyd and David Traylen, occupies a massive 685 m² space overlooking Green Square in Kingston, and promises to be a ‘working hub’ which will enable designers to feed off one another, share ideas and work in a creative environment.
There are 12 studios for rent, four of which have already been snapped up. It’s not hard to understand why when you consider that resident designers will have access to: a large common area, large cutting tables, storage, racking and kitchen facilities. A pattern maker and machinist will be on site and available to designers on a fee-for-service basis.
‘CARDIF will become a centre of excellence and support fashion designers to grow and develop,’ says Chris. ‘It provides affordable, long-term creative and retail space for established and emerging designers who want to make their brand commercially accessible and connect direct with customers.’
CARDIF began when Chris was looking for space to establish her new fashion label, Minimum, which she will launch in 2016. ‘It didn’t take long to realise that leasing space can be expensive,’ says Chris. ‘More importantly, being a “solopreneur” can be lonely, which isn’t good for the creative mind. Most creatives thrive on feeding off one another, sharing ideas and exploring through a collaborative environment.’
It’s fitting that CARDIF is in Kingston, an area which was established more than 100 years ago as one of Canberra’s first commercial centres. The space on Level 1 of the Cusack Centre was untenanted for a long time and required some serious refitting, however when Chris and David stumbled across the space they were attracted to the wall of windows providing natural light for resident designers, and the central location.
CARDIF also has a retail arm, called CARDIF Collective. The designers who occupy studios will sell through the collective and so too can those who sign up to CARDIF as a member. A retail manager will be on site. Designers must be local or regional.
Several designers are already signed up for studio space, with one having moved in already and others planned to settle by the New Year. A second call for applications will take place early in 2016 (designers can, however, express interest at any time).
CARDIF represents a very real opportunity to develop and support the already established fashion industry of Canberra, and I am so looking forward to seeing just how this new space helps out local talent to grown and prosper.