Arriving at JASONGRECH in North Melbourne for a one on one interview with this Melbourne designer I am greeted by Jason and his beloved pooch Jaxson, who are sitting down for a quick breakfast prior to my arrival.
Jason is one of 10 siblings, six brothers and four sisters who were brought up in Melbourne’s Western suburbs.
Originally Jason started out working as a chef and began an apprenticeship, but soon realised this wasn’t for him and quickly discovered he had a love for mathematics so then began studying accounting for the next two year’s.
As I chat to Jason, I am constantly being tugged at by Jaxson the toy poodle for attention, when I ignore him he moves his paw onto my hand and moves it to his direction for a pat.
Jason continues to answer my questions with warmth and humour and I feel right at home is his magnificent studio showroom.
After two years of studying accounting Jason faces a relationship breakup and decides to head overseas to mend his broken heart.
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Returning from overseas Jason enrols at Victoria’s ‘Kangan Institute’ to begin his studies in fashion design. His good friend Michael Perri had his own label and it was easy for Jason to see that running your own fashion business was possible. During his high school days Jason excelled at sewing and would always complete his piece before other students had finished, he would end up making up to three of the same pieces in the same time frame.
Once GRECH had completed his studies he then took up a position as a cutter at one of Chapel Street’s high end women’s retailers. From cutter to pattern maker then senior pattern maker, he quickly moved up the ranks to work room manager, but that wasn’t enough to suffice this high achieving graduate designer, his knit wear label was then launched in 2001. Jason learned an enormous amount during his six year stint here and these skills have been carried over into helping him become the creative and innovative designer he is today.
Continuing on with the interview Jaxson the toy poodle is back on my lap wanting a little more attention. I feel so at home in Jason’s studio showroom sitting at his beautiful table in the bar service area which has an array of beverages for your pleasing and is so warm and inviting.
While still working for the Chapel Street women’s label, Jason is asked to create a good friend’s wedding gown, this creates more work and is another step towards realising his ultimate vision. Jason heads off to do a life discovery course which is the turning point in his career and gives him the courage to start his own business and he resigns one month later.
Sipping away at my coffee I can’t wait to find out more……this studio showroom is full of love and passion. Just behind me are the collection’s, Swarovski peals and crystals on beautiful gowns reflect in the Victorian inspired mirror’s……I want to stay the whole day, Jason is so warm and engaging.
Photography by Melbourne My Style
His business name and the brand JASONGRECH are now established and he begins designing ‘party wear’. “I needed a retail store; however commercial real estate agents would not give me a go as I was still very new, so I thought why not wholesale. I had no option to wholesale as I had a collection and I didn’t want to give up on the dream. If I was a risk to commercial real estate agents, I had to pave a way in other areas and I was not going to let that stand in my way”. Jason jumps on a plane to Sydney and his dresses are stocked by six Sydney retailers and soon he expands to Brisbane and Perth.
Next up he is a finalist in the Mercedes Benz start up awards and is soon noticed by Kelly Smythe Chanel 7 Stylist. Kelly is in love with his collection, so she calls Sonia Kruger in to have a look and Sonia wears the brand on television during the entire Spring Racing Carnival.
One thing leading to another I can’t keep up……I am realising that it has taken many steps for Jason to be recognised including being a Mercedes start up finalist, this encounter with Sonia and dressing many celebrities, winning the 2003 Caulfield Cup Designer Award and dressing the 2003 VRC Racing Ambassador. All of this has created the breakthrough that Jason needs to succeed and being consistent is the key to establishing his name and brand.
Jason is then invited to a private room at Melbourne’s Crown Casino and is introduced to the 2003 VRC Racing Ambassador Clare Hawkes. Clare wears JASONGRECH to the Flemington Melbourne Cup Carnival and his design ends up front cover of ‘The Australian’. “The brand went from nothing to something in a short time span, now it’s easy to get a retail store”.
Jason continues to tell me that…. “Fashion is constantly changing you just have to keep up” I tell Jason I can’t keep up, I need a Dictaphone! Jason quickly realised what was working in fashion and what wasn’t and high end couture was in demand.
Australian Bridal Expo
Now an entrepreneur Jason is inducted into the Kangan Batman T.A.F.E fashion hall of fame, where he is now part of the alumnus. He continues on to win the Lord Mayor’s Innovation Award in Melbourne.
In 2008 Jason moves into his Studio Showroom a heritage listed building in North Melbourne, and his Melbourne retail store closes. I continue on to ask Jason who works with him and his eyes light up as he tells me about his P.A Anie, “she’s my best friend and a great support”.
Melbourne Fashion Week
Recently Jason has dressed Sam Frost from Home and Away in her acting debut, Dannii Minogue for her recent film clip, Rachel Mkhawaja who recently married Australian Cricketer Usman Khawaja and converted to Muslim. Brooke Meredith for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, Goldie Hawn, Western Bulldogs player Katie Brennan, Georgia Love from the Bachelorette and one of his all-time favourites was dressing Brit Davis for the Brownlow, where Brit was named best dressed.
Dannii Minogue, Stylist Nick Lord
Jessica Marais, Stylist Rachel Dennis
Delta Goodrem, Stylist Leticia Dare
Nadia Bartel, Stylist Lana Wilkinson
Natalie Bassingthwaighte AMPR
Jason goes on to show me a video with multinational tech company IBM and their new cognitive system named Watson.
Cognitive Couture Collection Collaboration with IBM Watson
IBM Watson has been developed to change the world of fashion as we know it. Jason was asked to craft a ‘Cognitive Collection’ as part of a collaboration with the IBM giant.
Jason Grech is inspired by his great love of architecture and for this presentation the cognitive system digitally analysed photographs of architecture as seen below in the patterns and lines on the roofing of Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station, they were then transformed into fashion design.
Andrew Maccoll Photography
Bernard Gueit Photography
Watson also presented colour data that was presented with a palette of pastels for Jason’s collaborative collection. This was the first time he had worked with colours of this nature and these designs and colour choices ended up becoming Jason’s most successful collection to date.
As our consumer habits change and evolve artificial intelligence such is IBM’s Watson will further enable to transform and simplify the process of fashion design.
“This system can predict both future trends and seasonal colours with more accuracy”
Bayu Suharso Photography
VAMFF Runway 4 2018
Jason is now recognised as one of Australia’s most recognised couture designers he produces both Wedding and Red Carpet Gowns. For this Vamff collection a total of six new designs were created putting in up to 20 hour days to be runway ready.
“I’m so thankful to VAMFF for this opportunity, to be put on a platform amongst my peers is a true highlight of my career thus far and since showcasing my collection my business has grown dramatically”
“It’s not been an easy road, breakdowns have created incredible breakthroughs. I am thankful for the people that support my business, my customers who allow me to do the work that I do and put their trust in me”
Carly Ravenhall Photography
VAMFF Lucas Dawson Photography
What’s next for JASONGRECH
“I am off to Malta Fashion Week to showcase 30 new designs including both red carpet and bridal. My good friends at ‘The Valentina Group’ are putting this whole production together, I am very thankful I have wonderful supportive strong women in my life who inspire me daily”
“I asked my mum what’s the one thing you’d like to see me do that I haven’t so far”. “To show your designs in your motherland of Malta”.
Melbourne Fashion Week
Jason is very close to his family and is taking his mum with him to Malta as a surprise for her 86th birthday, he will then fly on to Paris and Italy to source materials and network amongst other fashion enthusiasts and finish off with a final two weeks holiday back in Malta.
“I am thankful to the media outlets that help us reach new audiences”
2017 Brownlow Adelle Boglis
“I am extremely thankful to the City of Melbourne who has supported me and my business for many, many, years. They understand what it takes to keep fashion business in business and are extremely supportive of it”
Thank you so much to Jason for allowing me to conduct such an inspirational interview from a man that has worked hard for all his achievements and accolades.
I can’t wait to see what’s next!