Earlier this year, an interviewer asked me to name my greatest achievement to date, as a brand and a designer.
Winning awards, being stocked in major department stores and having flagship boutiques in Brisbane and Sydney's major shopping meccas were came to mind, but didn't strike at the heart of my pride in the label. As I explained to Styling You editor Nikki Parkinson in 2011, stores come and go and awards provide industry validation - but I had come to realise that "I didn’t need to play to the archetypal version of 'success' (ie. stocking in large department stores or internationally); I needed to dance to my own tune and do what made me feel fulfilled as a designer, which meant staying true to my roots, and letting my organic connection with my clients transcend through into what I designed." Maintaining a business model that facilitated this was paramount.
Which came to mind as I sat, staring at that question on my computer screen. Looking back, I can now see that this re-think of my business in the early noughties resulted in my two greatest achievements; being able to maintain Australian-made status (much more difficult than it sounds in the current market), and evolving Tengdahl into an intergenerational label worn across a vast range of age groups.
It's rare to make a living from designing fashion for over 30 years. And to still be there to see the daughters of my first clients coming in to buy the label, means the brand is still relevant and desirable for women of all ages. My design processes are also informed by these relationships with the next generation of luxury shoppers; they challenge me to continue pushing boundaries and seeking new, flexible approaches to design and styling.
The topic came to mind again when I spoke to Brisbane News this month regarding the shopping habits of different generations. Certainly the lines between how generations dress and shop are becoming blurred, with 50% of our e-boutique shoppers falling into the baby boomer and Gen X age groups, and all generations uniting in their desire for a personalised approach to shopping. Bloated and sick of the fast fashion culture that has prevailed for the past decade, their appreciation of styling advice as an organic part of the shopping experience and their desire to invest their hard earned money in clothing that will still be on trend and relevant long past the current season has become a 'must have' for discerning shoppers of all generations.
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