Her bright and colourful pieces are as quintessentially Australian as the sunny beaches we’re famous for and despite the obvious popularity in the local market, fashion brand Alice McCall has succeeded where other designers have faltered by successfully taking her iconic creations to China. Defying both the language and cultural barrier, the Australian designer opened up her first international store in the popular shopping district of Dalian earlier this year.
While it’s an impressive feat in itself, China is just the first stop in Alice’s quest for global expansion.
“I want to continue growing the brand’s presence internationally, be this among media, buyers and, of course, consumers,” Alice tells us. “In five years’ time I definitely hope to have another international boutique on the cards.”
Indeed, fresh from shooting her Cruise ‘16 campaign in the States featuring model of the moment Lindsey Wixson (a Lagerfeld muse, no less), McCall has been busy showcasing her AW17 collection during New York Fashion Week. Which, considering the subtle differences between the Australian and American market, is no straightforward task.
“I feel that the Australian market is willing to take a few risks by trying new cuts, colours and fabrications,” says the designer, who began her career in fashion as a stylist to the stars. “The US market is a bit more commercial, they always pick the cult playsuits that are sought after by consumers.”
Accompanying her designs wherever they go is paramount, as the opportunity to meet media and potential buyers face-to-face during NYFW is an integral part of forming international brand recognition, confirms Alice.
“We have agents overseas who manage this each season, however I think it is important that I attend to establish and maintain these key relationships. We are continually aiming to expand our outreach of wholesale clients and our presence among leading department stores.”
While her designs lend themselves beautifully to the Chinese market (“the Chinese customer is much more playful, they love colour and print and this is something that is present in every collection I design”), catering for consumers in the Northern hemisphere is an altogether different beast.
“One of my biggest challenges is designing a collection that is relevant and consistent for both Southern and Northern Hemispheres,” says the London-born Australian, who believes she is able to entice international buyers due to the fact that she doesn’t design exclusively according to trends.
“It is so important that our Southern spring collection has injections of knitwear and warmer pieces as we sell this in the Northern hemisphere as a winter collection. Colour palette is also so important in this design process and finding a balance is key in ensuring the collection sells well globally.”
It may seem straightforward, but for a designer to undertake a global expansion without betraying the enduring ethos of the brand does not come without its challenges.
“It can be easy to get caught in a trap of tailoring your designs for the foreign market,” Alice, who has been busy expanding her brand on home soil too, with two new Australian stores slated to open this year, admits. “One of the most important things I have learned is to stay true to myself and my designs as a designer.”
Which, as she points out, is precisely why buyers and stockists picked up the brand in the first place.