June 23, 2024


The Fashion Inside

Right on Cue: How to fashion a legacy

10 min read
on manufacturers and it has this sort of a rich historical past. Can you explain to me about how your father, Rod Levis, started off the business enterprise?

Justin Levis, Cue Clothes Co govt director: In the early 1960s, our father went holidaying in England and turned enamoured with the new youth lifestyle spearheaded by Carnaby St, the ‘London Look’, and The Beatles. 

On arriving property and sensing a hole for youth-pushed fashion in the current market, he made a decision to capitalise on that and started printing The Beatles t-shirts for the group’s admirer club in Australia. 

It obtained loads of traction, so he opened his 1st store, called Levis’s, on Elizabeth Avenue in Sydney.

Melanie Levis, Cue Clothing Co executive director: The notion fused music and manner. He even did his have late-evening DJ display in the retail store.

JL: It was all about the loud new music and enjoying rock ‘n’ roll and owning exciting.

ML: At that time, women of all ages were coming into new roles in the workforce, so [work wear] was a area of interest current market. Our father started off developing attire with the exact silhouette but in all distinctive prints. He bought designs designed by persons this kind of as Carla Zampatti and Prue Acton.

JL: Next the success of that first Levis’s retail outlet, Father used his very own trend designer and started making anything vertically. At last, on 28 November 1968, his keep grew to become ‘Cue’. To him, the title states it all: It implies to be on focus on, on the ball, ready for the next issue.

IR: That idea of a model that taps into the zeitgeist even though also offering enjoyment and an expertise is specifically what the retail industry is speaking about correct now. Your father was extremely progressive.

JL: Absolutely. And the continued good results of the business enterprise can be credited to that ahead contemplating. We’re in all probability the longest-standing relatives-owned manner brand. I do not know any some others that continue to offer velocity-to-industry designs like we do. They have both closed, been bought out, or modified ownership.

ML: Dad was generally contemplating unconventionally – innovating. He had the 1st manufacturer with a Myer concession and the first vogue business with an advertisement on the facet of a bus. He was always looking for the upcoming factor. He even established an advertisement that confirmed prior to 1 of the Indiana Jones movies.

JL: It was the very first cinema advert in Australia developed with Dolby encompass audio. 

Also, for the reason that Dad was so included in songs, he finished up heading into a partnership as a significant stakeholder in Triple M radio community. There was always fashion and music in our house. In actuality, framed and hanging on the wall in our office environment is our very first promoting buy with Triple M, which was the first Australian business on an FM radio station.

ML: Cue has been the supply of so many firsts. That mentality proceeds to gas the brand name to this working day.

JL: As an example, we’re now the to start with Australian fashion brand name to give just one-hour shipping and delivery with Uber. We had been also the initial corporation in the entire world to start Afterpay in-retail store.

IR: How did you enter the loved ones enterprise?

JL: I believe our mom carried us in to function when we were toddlers.

ML: Cue is section of our DNA. Justin is ideal, our lives have been ingrained inside the business from beginning. Our moms and dads were often travelling the world, traveling to cloth mills, and we were ‘dragged’ along (with our movie video games). I guess you could say our brains have been infused with the organization.

JL: As young children, we would engage in in the cloth racks, run via the dispatch place with the trolleys, likely leading to chaos and bothersome men and women all through faculty holidays. And the funny matter is, the same dispatch manager, Leone, nonetheless works with us today. She is remarkable.

IR: The business enterprise now features other brand names, this sort of as Veronika Maine and Dion Lee. Can you give me a short overview of how the distinctive makes are likely proper now?

ML: We have a lot of fascinating things on the horizon for Cue and Veronika Maine. The two brand names have just released new wintertime strategies and, really shortly, we will be showcasing Cue at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week for the second 12 months in a row. A large focus for us is creating confident our buyers have an remarkable encounter in-keep and on-line. We are often centered on getting modern, suitable, new, and fresh new. 

That can be viewed in our sustainability courses, which we have been making in excess of the very last few of years. The additional exploration we did for this initiative, the more we realised we were being previously using quite a few sustainable merchandise, so we became additional centered on doing the job with the mills to make guaranteed they get their certifications. We have normally experienced a cyclical way of making our clothes, even prior to sustainability turned these types of a notable term. We really encourage high quality and longevity in excess of quickly toss-absent styles, and we have a retail framework that caters to providing leftover models at reduced rates or donating them to several community and worldwide charities. 

Now sustainability is entrance of intellect throughout the whole year for each Cue and Veronika Maine. It is a massive undertaking to control and it is frequently evolving but we are passionate about finding out and obtaining even better just about every time. We get the job done with fabrics from corporations such as Waste2Wear, Repreve, and Acepora-Eco, which recycle purchaser squander into polyester. We also have Global Recycled Standard-accredited recycled wool and Organic Cotton Normal 100-certified natural cotton. The checklist of certifications is intensive, and we hope to preserve constructing on it every season as our sustainability courses expand. 

JL: We also began a traceable cotton undertaking a lot of many years in the past. We  built garments out of cotton that could be traced proper again to a person distinct paddock. It was exceptionally difficult at the time but now, by the corporation Fantastic Earth Cotton, which has the engineering to trace its fibre source chain, we are tracing [our fabric] the whole way by way of. The initially types from our partnership with Superior Earth Cotton will be unveiled in May perhaps. 

IR: I listen to Dion Lee is attaining consideration overseas and that there is a retail outlet opening in Miami.

JL: Dion did a show in New York before this year, which was the to start with bodily display we have finished in a couple of years, because of to Covid-19. It was a massive good results, with a big amount of money of push. Much of what Dion does on the runway is distinctly progressive, he likes to challenge the boundaries.

Due to the fact that effective demonstrate, wholesale orders have just been booming. In fewer than two years, Dion Lee’s wholesale orders have tripled. These kinds of powerful functionality has given us the self-assurance to acquire on a lease in Miami. It was nerve wracking remaining in Australia and signing a lease when we experienced not observed the internet site nevertheless. Dion was onsite in Miami sharing video clips of the shop, and we talked about the lease at length. The web site looked fabulous. We are hopeful that it is heading to be a fantastic foray into the States for the brand.  

We are also seeking at opening in New York and we are even considering Los Angeles. But we are psyched to have Miami verified as a commencing level. We hope to have it open in September or October this 12 months.

IR: Returning to the Australian market, Cue is the most significant community company of manner in the place. What has that been like in latest several years?

JL: There are normally pros and disadvantages to nearby producing. All through the pandemic it has been a double-edged sword. At the beginning, there have been issues in China, which affected some of our offshore styles but we experienced our operation here in Australia to rely on. Then we experienced the lockdowns in some sections of Sydney, which halted our community production. 

ML: Because most of our area makers are found in the places that had been in lockdown. Almost everything stopped. 

JL: In the direct up to Xmas, very little was remaining created. 

IR: What are some of the most significant problems for you at the instant, in terms of preserving producing below?

JL: Producing in Australia is hugely unionised and very complicated. Most individuals just decide that it is as well tough and go offshore. Luckily for us, we have been performing with incredible people for far more than 30 decades. One of the finest advantages to producing regionally is ‘speed to market’. If we need to have to test top quality control, the design and style can conveniently be introduced into our Surry Hills studio and sent back for alterations in the very same working day, and then be in a marketing and advertising campaign in a make any difference of weeks. That being claimed, it is completely a lot more expensive to make garments locally. We operate intently with the union and we are on the committee of Ethical Clothing Australia, which advocates for the defense of workers’ legal rights, making certain area manufacturing is previously mentioned board and that folks are not exploited. 

ML: Also, the full business is suffering from a drop in the range of machinists. Sadly, the community industry has changed over the yrs, and the desire for expert machinists is higher than ever. But, there is new know-how on the horizon, and a genuine possibility to produce regional production techniques.

JL: To be truthful, China anxieties me, with what is occurring in world politics. We seized the latest international change as an prospect to diversify our manufacturing foundation additional throughout the earth, which we have now carried out. That has helped with some offer-chain difficulties, but the pandemic affects all people in international trade. A ship could be coming from somewhere and if it will get held up in Singapore and they lose our product or service, we do not know the place it is. 

ML: There have been shipping and delivery difficulties everywhere and delivery price ranges have had a steep incline, which tends to make it tough to get trims. 

JL: Then you have the petrol charges and oil rates, which are spiralling up. It is risk-free to say there are a lot of cost pressures in the earth at the moment.

IR: If you had to give guidance to other brand names that are on the lookout to manufacture domestically, what would it be? 

JL: It is really hard get the job done. You have to do your investigation appropriately. You need to have to use the positive aspects of getting a higher value base – speed to current market and, in quite a few circumstances, high-quality. You need to have a issue of variation. Know why your products is distinct from anything that is replicable and normally produced extra affordably abroad.

IR: Cue has accomplished some good function on the net recently, from the new 1-hour shipping by using Uber to launching on The Iconic. What are your feelings on bricks-and-mortar and its future?

JL: I am enthusiastic about our Uber and Shippit partnership, particularly soon after just coming again from the States, where they are forward of most other spots in terms of opening up after Covid-19. I think clients are heading to want to come into merchants for a VIP experience. We are all tired of getting cooped up. You just want to see something new.

So with that in mind, we are planning new store refurbishments. I want to transform the way we seem. There is a put up-pandemic mentality now and I truly feel that it is time to make a change. We are ready to transfer on from the pandemic. And I imagine we have to have to convey that feeling to our clients. I truly feel we can do that at every manufacturer touchpoint. The images or the web-site can adjust, as a aspect of this effort, but I think the very best way to achieve it is to generate a fully immersive actual physical room. 

It is interesting. We are operating with new interior designers to build new retailer concepts for Cue and Veronika Maine. And we have a new retail store designer for Dion Lee, too. So all 3 manufacturers are launching new keep styles. We want buyers to say: “Wow, I have not witnessed this in advance of! Is this Cue? Wow, this is new. I appreciate this!”

IR: It seems like a major transformation is on the horizon.

JL: Yes. Even with our upcoming collections, we are encouraging clients to be a bit much more playful and evoke that experience of enjoyment in trend. Enable us wipe the slate thoroughly clean from that pandemic frame of mind and get back to possessing pleasurable.

IR: When do you see this retailer transformation coming out?

JL: Conclude of this calendar year. We have new shop refurbishments prepared in Victoria and Western Australia from this September. But there are nonetheless leases that are not 100 for every cent finalised and we certainly want to get the job done with our landlords.

I think leasing has been hard for every person all over the pandemic. Most of our landlords were being very good to us, but it was hard likely. 

We experienced to depart a couple centres all through the pandemic, but we are frequently wondering about where by we can reopen. Now it is about commencing new leases and opening manufacturer-new retail outlet suit-outs. We’re psyched to initiate transform. 

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