In the lead up to the fabulous event An Old Scholar Fashion Affair I'd like to introduce you to Chiquita Searle, and her brand Chi The Label which is one of the few coveted brands showcasing at the event on 13 April 2012....
How long ago was Chi The Label launched?
It’s always been something that I knew I would do at some stage and
about 15 months ago I reassessed where I was personally and professionally and
it seemed like a good time to put the wheels into motion. I have been working
on it steadily since about October 2010 and it’s now starting to gain traction
which is fabulous.
What inspired you to create your own
I have loved clothes from a very early age. My first pay check from my
first job when I was 14 was spent on an outfit from Sportsgirl. It was too big
at the time but that didn’t stop me from buying it. Even when I went to uni,
Mum and Dad would give me money for textbooks and I’d spend it on clothes. They
fed my soul more than any amount of knowledge or education could ever do. Then
around exam time I’d be ringing my sister to ask her to buy my textbooks for me
so I could study for the exams! My
love for designing clothes, helping women feel sexy and confident and generally
just creating something that I think is beautiful inspires me and continues to
do so every day. It’s my favourite part.
Chi The Label is instantly recognised for
it’s corporate wearability, is there a specific reason you decided to
specialise in work wear?
I have spent the last 10 years in corporate
HR and Recruitment roles and I have always enjoyed making an effort to look
stylish for the office. We don’t have many options
in Australia when it comes to fashionable attire for the corporate woman so I
decided to fulfil this much neglected gap in the market. So now when I design,
I focus on providing unconventional yet classy garments professional women can
wear to the office which will easily transition to after works drinks.
Your label also offers corporate styling
sessions, what are the main things that participants can take away from the
I recently completed a survey of the
shopping trends of corporate women in Australia and the overwhelming result was
that professional women are frustrated in not being able to style their own corporate
outfits to look their impeccable best each morning. Which is essentially why I decided to launch
the Chi Corporate Styling Session. The main learning that women take away from
these styling sessions is the understanding of how and what to wear to work
which will flatter their body shape while still remaining individual and true
to their own sense of style. Clothes are all about making an individual feel
good and that’s what I aim to achieve with each new design.
Are the styling sessions an effective
marketing/sales technique? Would you recommend this unique approach to other up
and coming designers?
I decided to launch the Chi Corporate Styling Sessions
mainly to provide simple yet effective tips to my clients on how they can look
fabulous for the office each day and it has evolved into an opportunity for
them to try on the Chi label and the label has become more popular as a result.
Those who try something on generally buy it as they like the way it fits and
makes them feel. The survey results also indicated that women are dissatisfied
with the options available to them in terms of corporate wear and they don’t
have time for shopping which is why again the styling sessions are great
because it’s fulfilling two needs at once.
Your work utilizes a lot of imported
fabrics, how important is quality fabric when creating corporate wear?
The fabric is of the utmost importance.
I’ve used Lace imported from France, Satin Duchesse from Switzerland, Lambskin
Leather from Japan. Fabric is something I don’t compromise on. I am very
particular and only select those which are of the highest quality because even
the most beautiful design is nothing without quality fabric.
You create an amazing 6-8 new pieces every
month, where do you gain your inspiration?
To be honest, the design aspect is the
easiest part for me. I literally think about new designs ALL the time. I sleep
with a pencil and pad next to me at night and I’ll wake up in the middle of the
night to quickly capture a new design or idea. I can sit down for 30 minutes
and have 6 new designs ready to go. I’m a visual person so the visual image I
see of a new design is very strong in my mind and then it’s just a matter of
putting pencil to paper.
The Happy Birthday Alice collection is a
departure from corporate wear, is this an avenue you are looking to explore
further in the future?
The Happy Birthday Alice Collection was my
first collection which was a tribute to a beautiful friend of mine Alice for
her 30th birthday. It represents her personality which is quirky,
mischievous and a little bit naughty. The Corporate wear is my true passion and
it’s the direction my label will follow for the future.
What have been some highlights so far?
There have been so many but I’d have to say
studying at the Paris Fashion Institute last year was a stand out. I met some
amazing people who I am still in touch with and learned so much from some
fabulous lecturers who have been in the industry in Europe for many many years.
What’s next for Chi The Label?
Pop Up Shop in the Valley! I’ll be at Level 2, 6 Marshall Street in the Valley
(behind the Family) for the month of April and will also be showcasing at An
Old Scholar Fashion Affair on 13th April. Then I’m thinking, total
domination of corporate attire for professional women in Australia!
To purchase your tickets now to the amazing event click here
Questions by Akahsha Edwards
Labels: 28 Black Australia, An Old Scholar Fashion Affair, Chi The Label, No Name Style, Oh Hello, Runway Express Experience