Shae Fleming is a burst of energy. This hard-working and passionate designer hails from the laid-back city of Bondi Beach where she gains inspiration for her emerging label, 2Shae. Since having launched in 2010, 2Shae is a stylish affordable women's label which contains beautiful pieces inspired by international trends. As a fashion makeup artist, I have had the pleasure to work with Shae on her Summer 2012 campaign, 'Candyland' as well as create makeup looks for two runway shows. She is not only passionate about the growth of her fabulous label but also believes in supporting others who may be struggling to grow in the fashion industry with her group FASH MOB. Shae is an interesting woman and a fantastic inspiration to women who aspire to achieve their dreams. We managed to find time to chat with her about 2Shae...
Shae, how long have you been designing for and what made you become a designer?
I have been designing and sewing things for as long as I can remember. My passion for designing and creating is innate. I inherited creativity and practicality from my grandmas and parents. My mumʼs an artist and graphic designer and both of my nannas sewed. One was a Singer Sewing Machine seamstress and sewing teacher in the 50ʼs. Creativity is in our blood. My mother always encouraged me to make things from the cupboard full of art and craft supplies, paint, fabrics and notions. Mum taught me to sew on a toy Holly Hobby sewing machine when I was four. Making things, playing dress ups, coordinating outfits, playing with fabric and sewing was what I did for fun as a little girl. Iʼve always had little labels going, I would come up with a label name, design logoʼs to suit and make clothes that suited my age and what I was into at the time. I made patterns, cut and sewed them all myself, and sold pieces to friends and family. Gym wear, t-shirts, beachwear... I even remember selling boob tubes in the late 80's for a few dollars at school! 2Shae was inevitable. The label is only very young (just over two years old) but I knew that one day itʼs what I would be doing. Itʼs my true passion and Iʼve always wanted to do this, itʼs my dream.
As an emerging designer, would you say your design journey has been easy or difficult?
The design process has never been an issue for me, and coming up with ideas is always easy. Trying to narrow down my ideas can be difficult at times. At first I found it difficult to find the resources I needed and reliable cost-effective companies to manufacture my garments. I found it hard to get others in the industry to open up and share their resources and help new designers out. These issues prompted me to start on online group for emerging Australian fashion designers called FASH MOB. Luckily now I am set up and have a great team surrounding me.
This year you formed FASH MOB, a support group for Emerging Australian Fashion Designers. Do you feel the industry fails to support new designers?
I donʼt necessarily think there is a lack of support but I do think itʼs daunting at first to know where to go and who to ask for assistance. Once you are made aware of the avenues and people you need to know it becomes evident that there are ways to gain knowledge and help. There could always be more done to help boost the Australian fashion industry especially by government but there are strong associations designers can get involved with. In saying that though the Australian Fashion Industry can be quite secretive and competitive and I have found it is amongst designers themselves that support is scarce for one another. Our once strong industry isnʼt helped, at all, by government legislation that limits how we are allowed to manufacture here in Australia and with offshore manufacturing more affordable, many designers are lured away which weakens us further. Couple that with the fickle nature of the business and Australiaʼs ʻtall poppy syndromeʼ and we have an industry that sometimes makes it very difficult to break into. Because of this, many designers are secretive and protective of suppliers and manufacturers here in Australia because sharing advice, contacts and expertise can create fear of losing potential sales and customers. I found it very difficult to get advice or leads from more established designers when I was starting out. My label is still very much emerging but along the way I have learnt a lot and often to my companies detriment. I decided I didnʼt want to be so closed off, I wanted to share my contacts and knowledge and thought the best way to do that was with social media so I began the group. In only a few months we have 300 members and Iʼm so glad I have found a wonderful group of creative people in fashion who are also willing to share their contacts for the benefit of the group. My aim is to provide a secure network for like-minded creatives so we can openly discuss manufacturing, marketing and sales tips, contacts and leads. I recently held FASH MOB networking nights that brought together other industry experts. I hope to minimize the difficulties associated with starting a label and together form a reliable and reputable list of local collaborators.
Letʼs talk 2Shae! Who or what inspires you when designing a new collection?
The high expectation of my consumers inspires me first and foremost with every collection. The
aesthetics of course change from season to season, but the underlying aim when creating is always my desire for top quality fabrics, fit and finishes. Being 100% Australian made, means the benefits to our buyers are value for money, durability and point of difference. My collections acknowledge international trends and I like to keep a close watch on off-duty models and particular designer houses that I love, and I interpret these in my own unique way. The 2Shae muse helps me place fabrics and themes. The Australian lifestyle and Bondi's laidback aesthetic flows through my work. Keeping up to date with new and emerging materials, technologies and techniques is also very important. The next 2Shae collection delves into digital and foil printing, and surface treatments that make the collection totally unique.
Love it. You define 2Shae as ʻFashion For The Fickleʼ. Why is that so?
'Fashion for the Fickle' is something I came up with just after choosing the brand name. Fashion has always been known as a fickle industry because styles and trends change so quickly, one minute people like something, the next they donʼt. I think thatʼs why most consumers make cheaper clothing purchases because they just can't commit. With 'Fashion For the Fickle', I suppose what I am saying is even the most fickle of fashion followers will always love and be loyal to this brand. Itʼs pleasing to say when read aloud because it gives a punchy rhythm that makes it easy to remember. Great brand slogans should be easy to remember!
Could you tell us something most people don't know about you?
Iʼm into poetry and creative writing too - thereʼs an exclusive for Spoilt (laughs). I love the way different words sound and feel as you say them.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The creative side of the label is most enjoyable. Selecting fabrics, sketching, and seeing my ideas come to life when sampling is so exciting. The lead up to a runway show is always exhilarating for me too. Letting all my senses go nuts to create one big themed event is awesome. Seeing all my favourite trusted creative support teams come together to create brilliance is so much fun.
In a few words, how would you describe the 2Shae consumer?
Sheʼs a stylish luxury consumer. Sassy, sexy, fashion forward, creative. Sheʼs definitely no wallflower.
What fashion trends do you predict this summer?
Brights are still pinging, which I love, and have had a boost with futuristic neon. Lace teams beautifully with the spring pastel colour palette and girly floaty florals are everywhere. Digi prints are really individualizing fabric choice for designers so surface interest is very modern. Cut-outs and colour panelling are super hot at the moment too - and at 2Shae animal print is never out!
Having worked with you, I know you love to accessorise! Do you believe accessories make an outfit?
Oh they definitely make it. I never leave home without something around my neck and am a total accessory addict. I purchase costume jewellery every time I shop. You can alter the feel and style of any look with accessories. Itʼs more affordable to update your wardrobe with smaller on trend pieces and also accessories allow you to try trends you might not feel comfortable wearing head to toe. Little pops of neon accessories, for instance, on a basic black fitted dress brings it right up to date.
Hot or not: mixing clashing prints together?
Itʼs growing on me. I love it on others, and what Iʼve seen from runway shows, it can really work. On me itʼs just way too busy. Iʼm too short to carry too many changes in direction and line.
Which celebrity would you most love to see wearing 2Shae?
Blake Lively. She loves colour, looks amazingly flawless in every photo and attends all the right
events… sheʼs a walking billboard.
Agreed - we also adore Blake Lively. Finally Shae, what makes you feel Spoilt?
Having my hair and makeup done before an event with a glass of bubbles is always nice.
For more on 2Shae, click here.