âIt’s been the toughest months,â Lee Mathews said on a Zoom call from his Sydney studio. The usually optimistic designer has every right to be disappointed: New South Wales only recently emerged from a five-month lockdown. No one has entered or left Australia – except, one way or another, celebrities and the very wealthy – for almost two years. “It’s a bit like Groundhog day,she said. Mathews took advantage of the repetitive Australian days to ask big questions about his brand and fashion in general: “What do you make and why? What’s worth it?”
She started her label after her stint as Vogue Australian editor, where she reworked thrift store pieces into new clothes. In the more than 20 years that Mathews has worked there, she has developed signatures such as baggy cargo pants, voluminous meadow dresses, and masculine overcoats and jackets. She spent 2020 and 2021 perfecting these designs, producing pieces that were simple, charming, and easily wearable. âMy instinct, which you rely on a lot in times when you are isolated, is to surround myself with good people, to take good advice and to trust that advice,â she said.
During the darker days of Victoria’s lockdowns, team members at her Melbourne store were looking for a way to keep busy. So they started posting archival and unique pieces to a new Instagram account and selling them directly through the account to customers. Without any promotion, his followers grew and within three months they had built a significant business. Mathews’ Australian stores will finally reopen this Saturday, but she is determined to continue with this archival project. The potential for someone with such a vibrant fan base and a well-honed point of view seems high. Let’s see what else she has up her sleeve.