The búl SS21 collection transports us to the wild and untamed landscapes of South Gippsland, creating a seasonal story with voluminous shapes, connecting palettes, natural pigments and fabrics, and organic detailing.
The label’s lead designer and founder Virginia Martin was inspired by her second home in South Gippsland, where her family’s beach house is located. Virginia routinely takes inspiration from Australian landscapes and travels, but due to this year’s pandemic, her vision for this season came from a little closer to home. Virginia shares “this season we reflect and reconnect new horizons with a collection close to our home where a timeless beauty and delicate nature quietly come into bloom.”
The brand’s vision is to create thoughtful Australian designs that are sustainable and ethical. In a studio situated in Fitzroy, Melbourne, the tightknit all female teamwork together under Virginia’s lead, creating high quality, timeless garments that encourage customers to embrace sustainable slow fashion. The team works alongside small family-owned manufacturers to ensure they produce garments as ethically and responsibly as possible; building upon the long-standing relationships that are held up through a dedication to ethical partnerships.
In the brand’s latest collection, you will find versatile separates and voluminous shapes created from natural fibres such as breathable cotton and lightweight linen in connecting pallets of crimson rosella and buttery wattle.
We caught up with Virginia to learn more about this season’s collection, and how the pandemic has impacted the fashion industry, we also discussed how fashion is moving forward through these challenging times. Read on below and view the inspired collection in búl’s ethereal digital show for Melbourne Fashion week available now and on-demand here.
How is fashion moving forward despite the current climate with the global pandemic?
Fashion has finally started to slow down which is extremely exciting as we look toward a more sustainable future with smaller collections, seasonless design, and reduced waste to create a wider and more diverse scope. It’s wonderful to see this shift unfold as I have always strived to have a thoughtful approach to our collections. The global pandemic has allowed everyone to take a pause and reflect. With reflection comes greater and more insightful decision making for all. Our customers often look towards quality over quantity, high-quality craftsmanship, and a strong focus on natural fabrications, so it’s great to see the world shifting to an aligned focus on these outlooks too.
Has the creative process and the development of this collection changed given these uncertain times and not knowing when the lockdown would ease?
There’s no doubt it has changed and has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone. Large or small, everyone has been affected in one way or another. We have focused on keeping up with our customer’s wants and needs alongside continuing to keep our integrity and alignment to our ethos. Due to lockdowns and the unknown of when restrictions will ease, there has been a greater focus on not so dressy pieces. Our woolen items and oversized styles have been well received this Australian winter due to many of us working from home and outside time-restricted. Comfortability and ease of wear has been the focal point for the majority of our customers throughout this time. However, we have seen the want to ‘dress up to stay in’, including those who have worn dresses and heels to sit in their backyards or put on bright suits to walk to the supermarket, which I have absolutely loved seeing.
Do you believe you have been able to present your digital runway as well as a live runway?
I am very thankful to M/FW for providing us with this unique opportunity to showcase our S21 South Gippsland collection. Of course, the energy of a live runway is hard to beat and I always enjoy watching the show, however the digital runway has been a surprisingly welcomed platform. Usually, our runways are ticketed events, but now it is free to watch and on-demand. Everyone and anyone can attend and watch in their own time and within their own space. Being online, our runway is now open to not only Melbourne but also worldwide which has been great to be able to reach our international customers too. Live runways are always high energy and a buzzing atmosphere, however, this time you can physically pause and take in each item in detail. In a way, it aligns with the shift throughout this year where we can all take our time to focus and reflect.
How can we keep fashion exciting in terms of dressing daily?
I believe dressing should always be exciting and you don’t necessarily need a specific occasion to dress up. Our moods change daily so why not allow this expression through the clothing you wear as an extension of you. It’s incredible how a bright colour, playful print, subtle texture, or specific silhouette can adjust to a different feeling. Melbourne is known for always wearing black, but I think this is far from the truth; every day is an opportunity to get creative.
How has your label adapted to a more sustainable future?
As we hold strong value in our relationship to the environment, we are always looking toward a more sustainable future. Natural fabrications and biodegradable textiles over-ride man-made fibers as we focus on a lot of natural linen, cotton, and woolen blends as well as various plant-based innovations. Limited quantity runs help pave way to conscious ordering practices, not only for us but for our customers also, with each item thoughtfully designed to last beyond the season and grow and age with you.
Packaging takes a considered approach across all aspects too; from large to small it’s about the details including our swing tags crafted from wooden offcuts, which make for lovely nature-made variations in wood grain. We also keep an honest relationship with our makers and craftspeople; these family-owned and operating businesses have aligned with our vision for over a decade now and continue to share our outlook on ensuring a lasting and sustainable future for the label.
What is your view on static fashion installations? How can we make these exciting and beautiful to the viewer?
People love going to galleries and museums so this shouldn’t be viewed as different, if anything it should be further embraced with a greater focus on the outdoors and use of the surrounding natural space. Much like our digital runway, it will be innovative and create ideas that keep the viewer excited and intrigued. With restrictions easing in Victoria, many can now travel to the city and stroll the streets to engage with the installations rather than being confined to their local area. The pandemic has allowed our minds to collectively shift to enjoy the small things in life and I believe static fashion installations have potential to hold an audience who now wish to take their time, take in the detail, reflect upon what they see, and interact with the creative space that surrounds them.
What are your staple pieces as we head into Summer?
From the South Gippsland collection, a favourite piece of mine is the ‘Agnes Dress’, an easy-wear midi style that is crafted in lovely lightweight cotton. It comes in light blue or buttery yellow with fun organic detailing and contrasting white buttons that cascade down the sides. It can be easily layered with a top underneath making it a versatile piece in the wardrobe and will be great for those warmer days ahead.
How has this collection inspired you personally?
With each collection, I pull from a personal travelled experience to create a seasonal story however due to new horizons I chose to reflect upon and find inspiration from somewhere close to home. The South Gippsland collection is inspired by a special place to me as I’ve spent a lot of time down there with my family beach house situated within this beautifully rugged part of Australia, I call it my second home. The wild and untamed landscapes inspired voluminous shapes, versatile silhouettes, natural fabrications, and organic detailing. Colour palettes reflect native flora and fauna from ‘Crimson Rosella’ to buttery ‘Wattle’ and prints explored checkered patterns of tessellated rock to playful polka dots of the ‘Spotted Pardalote’ bird often seen high in the eucalypt canopies. From shape and form to colour and fabric when I look at this collection it takes me back to my wonderful moments throughout South Gippsland. It was a welcomed shift to reflect on a place close to my home as not only has it paved way to vast inspiration for this Spring/Summer collection, South Gippsland will forever be a place close to my heart and good for my soul.
On a more personal note, what has this year brought to you in a positive way?
Being able to slow down this year has opened greater opportunities to do the things I love and to also focus on appreciating the small things. I have kept my mind, body, and soul-inspired by filling the time with various creative outlets from watercolour painting to roller skating and learning the guitar. I have also been getting my camera out to take photos of my family doing everyday things throughout isolation, which will be an interesting documentation to look back upon when this time eventually passes. It has been a long Australian Winter in more ways than one, but I am feeling positive, reflective, and reconnected and looking forward to brighter outlooks for us all this Spring Summer.
By Cloe Johnston
Editor in Chief Melinda Sullivan