We chatted with Jodie Hilton from The New Garde, a fashion studio that supports start-up labels and growing brands.
Describe your company in a few words.
We are a vibrant bunch of designers and makers from diverse backgrounds who have come together to produce products and execute brands and marketing for fashion-based clients.
Tell us about your business
We predominantly work with 3 kinds of clients. People changing careers and have the capital to invest in their business. Start-up labels that have been running for a couple of years and feel “stuck”. And lastly, larger companies who need a small team to assist in all areas of their business across product development and tech packs to rebranding and marketing.
What motivated you to start The New Garde?
I observed graduates ahead of me trying to into the industry, who were not able to get a job (despite their skills). This was a result of a limited number of local jobs, seeing them move for work, then returning broke and having no confidence. Then as a default “starting their own thing” only to waste more money trying to get a label off the ground. It seemed a shame to try to navigate a highly competitive industry on your own, then as a default goes into the business when you have no contacts. This was a problem I could easily solve.
I learned a great deal from my experience with Marcs, KitX, Vogue Magazine and Sacha Drake. I identified my areas of strength and then developed skills that could transfer across the industry.
How do you help start-up labels and growing brands?
I assess what they have been doing and look at how we can help. For start-ups, we identify a customer base and discover their place in the market and research competitors then cross reference with trends.
In the early stages, we develop budgets and determine how they are going to make money and afford to pay themselves. This could mean assessing their sales strategy and pricing model to define how to gain a greater profit margin.
For growing brands – It could be that a company wishes to move to offshore production or a brand that wishes to re-shore production. We explore options to engage their target market and explore how to scale their business to meet milestones or prepare for investor readiness.
What’s your most popular service?
Right now, it’s the 1:1 Masterclass for fashion start-ups. Where aspiring fashion business owners are able to invest 1 day of their lives to determine if their venture is feasible and what that may look like in the long term. We get down to the kernel of their ideas, quote on style development and develop a marketing strategy to set them in good stead.
What do you think will be the next trend in the fashion industry?
Fashion trends come and go in a heartbeat. Currently, we’re swarmed with “nostalgia” – vintage revival and boho themes. Vintage band T-shirts and revived Levi’s will stay strong for the vast majority but I see things turning to “Utility.” Trench coats, structured uniformity offset with pastels – I believe this is influenced by women moving into positions of power politically and the revolt against the Trumps of the world.
What are your predictions for the fashion industry?
A great divide between Fashion Tech and Sustainability. I believe one-day fashion start-ups won’t be allowed to proceed unless they meet criteria for not clogging up the planet. Owning a fashion label will mean that you stand for a purpose beyond sales, shows, and influencers. That if you own a fashion label you are responsible for people’s lives and the interests of the environment while you build a community beyond the product.
What is the biggest misconception about working in the fashion industry?
Sustainability and defining what “Sustainability” is to the masses. Right now, we’re hearing new terms like “Organic Fraud” and brands that are “greenwashing”. – even labels that call themselves “Slow fashion” and ethical labels may not be paying themselves a living wage.
While we celebrate the small wins when it comes to brands putting their best foot forward, we’re often seeing that the biggest companies in the world that have a sustainability focus are often also the biggest polluters and drive mass consumerism.
Tell us about the most important business lesson you’ve learned so far?
Due diligence always pays off. Vet new people, travel to that factory, ask for references. Check that the place your about to lease has good internet, understand the needs of your customer and your team. With ideas: Knowing when to stick (through the rough times) and when to quit (toxic behaviour or people) in order to focus on what’s crucial for the business and the people that work in it.
Who or what inspires you?
I’m curious about journeys. I’m a people watcher and design nerd. I am hungry to know what motivates people to choose a colour, cut their hair the way they do, or listen to certain music. I want to know the story behind an artwork and how that relates to the world at that time.
Do you have any plans for the future?
We’ve just launched a swag of in-house labels and I’m excited to announce Maison Garde: A brand created by a vibrant network of fashion specialists who are passionate about seeking new ways of dressing in an increasingly homogenized world. Each style is ethically made with high-end existing materials, accessories created and crafted by hand by artisans at The New Garde in Brisbane, Australia.
Each season Maison Garde will produce and showcase collaborative collections from Australia’s best-emerging tastemakers under the creative direction of myself (Jodie Hilton) while presenting the customer with a unique interaction and insight into collaborators, collections, and shopping to fulfil all of their fashion needs. Maison Garde shows in an intimate setting to a select group of editors and clients as an exclusive fashion house for the brave and bold. Never Basic.
Where can people find out more about your business?
Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_new_garde/
Subscribe to our newsletter via www.thenewgarde.co
In person, anyone can visit us at our new location at 709 Ann St where we will have an open studio (open to the public) and from the month on June – A retail front with each and every label featured (alongside of Maison Garde)