There must be something in the water in the Sunshine State, for yet another young, Brisbane-based emerging fashion designer is making a name for herself both at home and overseas.
Michelle Moore, 27, (pictured) is CEO of accessories label LYLA&BO, via www.lylaandbo.com, which has both celebrity fashion fans here in Australia and has just broken into the highly competitive NY fashion market, securing its first stockist, in Brooklyn.
Her stunning fedoras, in particular, have also proven a hit with both Australian men and women, but Michelle isn’t content there, striving to take her brand global.
A QUT graduate, Michelle was born in England, grew up in Brisbane and recently returned from a two-year stint living in Canada. The designer is also fortunate to travel back to NYC frequently for work and aims to live there soon. Here, she shares her design inspiration with SHESAID readers and why hats and accessories are everything.
Why do you specialise in designing hats and jewellery and not clothes? I have always gravitated towards buying accessories over clothes. For me, accessories are such a simple and effective way to create a fashionable look that doesn’t take hours to put together and won’t break the bank. It’s the smart way of styling! A bag, a statement necklace, cute shoes and, if the occasion calls for it (which it always does for me), an amazing hat. Done!
What’s your background in fashion? I have worked the odd fashion retail job here and there while travelling, but my work background was always business-marketing related, sometimes at the complete opposite end of the spectrum to fashion, like tech start-ups. But, as a child, you would always find me cutting up fabrics, making scrunchies on my sewing machine and creating a skirt or dress here and there. I was always making something and before going to university I was lucky enough to win a few costume design awards which saw me travel overseas. I’m very hands-on, I love making things from scratch and creating something from nothing, I take after my father like that.
Did you studying fashion boost your career? I graduated from QUT in 2012 with a Bachelor of Creative Industries with a major in fashion and business. I knew I always wanted to do something within fashion, but I was fully aware of the struggles in trying to tackle an industry that is so hard to break into. With that in mind, I took a variety of business subjects as a smarter/safer option. Although looking back, I am so happy that I decided to do this. I initially thought my mind was more fashion-orientated, however over the years I have realised that I am definitely as equally interested in the business aspects of what I do. I love building, creating and learning and my degree gave me the tools to be able to look at LYLA&BO with both a fashion and business perspective.
How has the brand evolved? I’m a fairly whimsical person when it comes to my outlook on life. I never thought that two years ago I would be on the path that I am now and yet I am so happy to be exactly where I am. My goal for LYLA&BO is to keep it growing and constantly evolving. When you build something from the ground up and are able to watch it grow, it becomes your baby. Having recently broken into the New York market, my ultimate goal would be to keep expanding on both a local and international scale. There is no greater, more satisfying feeling than seeing people wearing your pieces 14,000kms away from where you started your brand.
How does it feel to have celebrity fans like Jessica Gomes? It’s always such a thrill to see customers wearing one of your designs no matter who they are. Just the fact that someone loves it just as much as I do, is the exact reason I work so hard. But I have to say, seeing people as fashion savvy as Jessica Gomes (pictured below) and [fellow NY-based, Brisbane fashion designer] Juli Grbac (pictured at bottom) wearing your fedoras, is quite surreal and amazing all at the same time. It’s a feeling of gratification and accomplishment that never gets old.
Who would you most like to dress? There are so many people I would love to see styled in LYLA&BO pieces. But, if I had to name a few, I’d say supermodels Miranda Kerr and Gigi Hadid and power blogger Nicole Warne. I’m so in love with the sophisticated, everyday looks that these girls put together and they all look amazing in a fedora.
What are your favourite Australian and international brands? There are so many and for different reasons. Even if it’s not something I would particularly wear, I try to look at labels and their designs with an artistic perspective. I take a lot of inspiration from things I don’t like as much as things I completely adore. I also try to support Australian designers, as I am all too familiar with the struggles of the industry. With that said, some of my favourite labels at the moment are Cameo, The Fifth, Dion Lee and Jaguar. I’m most attracted these labels use of fabrics, prints and textures, especially as it’s coming into summer.
Who is your core customer? When creating the brand, I thought my core customer were fashion-conscious girls around my age, with similar styles. While this is true, as LYLA&BO has grown, so has my market. I now have unisex fedoras that look amazing on both men and women, something I never initially set out to do. Because accessories can be styled differently and with ease, LYLA&BO has such a broad market. The similarity that ties each customer together, however, is the confidence to pull off their look.
What’s your ultimate goal? I have a lot! I believe it’s important to always set yourself goals in life, to ensure you stay motivated and I believe that’s how I’ve managed to get this far. I am my own worst critic and I live by my planner. To survive in such a fast-paced industry means always being ahead of the game. I am constantly looking for new avenues to branch into and my ultimate goal with LYLA&BO is to become the No.1 boutique for all things headwear and accessories. If I can do this successfully on both a local and international scale then I will feel as though I’ve accomplished my ultimate goal.
What’s best and worst about having your own label? There are so many good and bad things about having your own label. It is very stressful at times; I am a complete control freak and I often worry about making the wrong decision, but over the years I have learned to trust my instincts and have managed to do pretty well so far. But to put it quite simply, it’s a juggling act – drawing inspiration for new collections, keeping on trend, maintaining the business aspects, conversing with manufacturers, wholesaling, shipping – I don’t remember the last time I had less than 10 things on my mind at once. However, the gratification you receive from people taking such an interest in something you have created from all of that stress and worry, most definitely outweighs any negatives. And having a million hat samples to choose from everyday is also a pretty amazing plus.
Who or what inspires you? I’m inspired by places just as much as I am people. I have been lucky enough to have travelled quite a bit over the last few years and I often find myself drawing inspiration from beautiful cities, the colour of fall, someone’s hat I saw once in Italy, that kind of thing. I’m inspired by everything I have seen, learned and are still learning. I’d like to think that my designs are a culmination of things I have experienced, along with aspects of past and current trends.
What do you love most about fashion? I love that it’s forever changing. You just never know what is on the cards for the next season and I love being a part of that. I not only love what’s currently happening in fashion, I love the history of it – the way that current trends have evolved from previous ones is so interesting to me. Fashion always comes back around, just with something a little different each time!