Monday, 6 August 2012

Designer Spotlight: Mettle

One of my favourite things is when I discover labels that have a fabulous and inspiring story, that really sets them a part from the crowd. I think it's particularly important to be innovative in a period of economic downturn, and do something different that excites consumers.... and that's exactly what Mettle has done! Mettle is the brain child of Melbourne-based designer, Brianna Hallihan, and the most amazing thing about Mettle is that each piece is fair-trade accredited and hand made from bomb shell metal from the Khmer Rouge and recycled Lucite. Brianna works exclusively with co-ops and communities within Cambodia and Indonesia to create these luxe, unique and socially and environmentally conscious pieces. I am obsessed with each and every piece; they look amazing, the quality is phenomenal, but it's the thought and love that goes into its creation that makes Mettle truly remarkable!  

Make sure you check out the rest of the collection, as well as hear from Brianna herself, as she talks about Mettle, its future and her inspirations, after the jump! 

How would you describe your personal style?
Comfort driven; since starting the label I tend to live in jeans and a t-shirt, on occasion you may even find me working in my PJ`s! On the occasion when I have to grace the outside world I would say it`s an eclectic mix of vintage/high end/street depending on my mood and the occasion.

Where are your favourite shopping destinations?
I like scouting out the vintage stores on the Windsor end of Chapel st Melbourne, the last couple of years I`ve been lucky as I get to travel to the USA and I spend a considerable amount of time trawling the vintage stores of San Francisco. I mix this with my fav local labels from Melbourne boutiques like Alice Euphemia and maybe a little Top Shop action for my fast fashion fixes.

Who is your style crush?
Cate Blanchette had me at Valentino, Agyness Deyn still has me for her chameleon ways. Completely different styles – but they both have this self assured sense of what works for them.

What can't you live without in summer?

What inspired you to start Mettle?
I went through an education system which built social awareness and responsibility, so working in the world of fashion I was always at odds with this. I love the visionary aspects to the industry and the ability to merge creativity with an end purpose. This was a chance for me to marry the two concepts in a way that would benefit all involved, not just those at the top of the food chain.

Was it difficult to establish relationships with those you work with in Cambodia and Indonesia?
It can be difficult in the first stages for everyone to understand what is expected of each other and of the standards. I started with one Co-op in the beginning and have grown to three and from experience I can see they all seem to take a similar path of growth.

Why is using recycled materials so important to you? 
We live in a throw away society and I can sense a need to change the way we consume. So it seems timely to put what would otherwise be discarded waste to a new use.

Who is the person you design for?
She knows what`s up. She`s already developed her personal style, is directional in her aesthetic and educated on the trends but not a slave to them.  She knows the difference between fast fashion and a quality make.

What differentiates Mettle from any other accessories label?
I`m aware that I can`t compete with fast fashion brands, so I try to offer a directional range of unique pieces. I think the biggest difference between Mettle and other designer brands is the heart that gets put into every piece. Everything is fair trade accredited, hand crafted and made from recycled materials within a small, not for profit, income generating and training project owned by it`s members. Our whole ethos though is to create coveted pieces that would sell on there own merit, above and beyond the production methods we use.

What is the most rewarding thing about having your own label?
Getting the chance to feel creatively fulfilled whilst contributing to a social cause, and working in my PJ`s!

What has been your proudest moment since your launch?
Winning the Melbourne Design Awards first season out was pretty cool, but the proudest moment is when I get to see the concept working enough to grow it into other co-ops and communities.

How do you find inspiration for your collections? 
I`m always looking at what`s going on around me, everything starts with a concept for me and through research into the idea and the materials it grows from there. The Spring/Summer 2012/13 range, was based on Luc Besson`s 1997 film ‘The Fifth Element’. The collection was influenced by themes surrounding the survival of humanity and the human form. I created pieces using body casting techniques set against rigid geometric forms to symbolise the evolution of our past and the science of our future.

What is your favourite piece from the collection? Why?
It changes when new styling pictures come out and I see different ways of looking at the item. The Square Bone Cuff and Saturn Metal Tube Belt (above) are favourites; they sit well with current season trends in clothing. I would have to say their deceptive simplicity makes them a favourite of mine.

Where do you see Mettle in 5 years?
This coming year we`re looking into starting a creative hub in Melbourne, this ties together a few concepts we`ve been nutting out under the ‘mettle – fair trade’ banner. We`ll hopefully continue to grow our customer base and therefore grow our support of the co-op`s we work with. I may venture back into clothing design under the same premise. We just want to maintain sustainable growth and see where it takes us from there.

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