Meet Laura Morgan and Annabelle Van Amerongen, the fashion designers behind Staple the Label, an effortlessly relaxed Australian brand that drops bi-monthly looks featuring chic tailoring and beautiful basics. The nature of Staple’s simplicity is that while it looks easy and relaxed, there’s an awful lot of work that goes into the end feeling of effortlessness. Here’s how the two designers manage to keep it simple – in style and in feel.
Laura (Senior Designer): Our first focus is on what our girl wants at the time we drop in-store, what will be her core uniform for this time of year, where is she going? Then we work a range plan around this. Then it’s mood board after mood board, and then probably another mood board! We work collaboratively with sales and management to get the concept right before we sketch.
Annabelle (Junior Designer): Laura and I set aside time to research the new fashion shows, blogs, art and magazines we love and we create beautiful pin boards that we use throughout the design process of that range to reference. From this we pin-point the key shapes, colours and trends we will draw into for the range.
What’s your approach to trends: do you follow trend spotters or go with your gut?
Laura: We definitely are aware of what is happening, but you can’t jump on all trends. You need to find your voice and stick to that, so your customer stays loyal. Forecasting is that constant discussion of ‘what do I want to wear next’, and mostly that comes from trusting your gut!
Once you’ve locked in the design concept, what’s next?
Laura: I am definitely the good old pencil and paper girl. I have a large Wacom tablet and pen to use with the computer, and this definitely speeds up the process. But I don’t think this compares to the real thing. I am obsessed with black Artline pens. It’s the only pen I use. We go through tonnes of them at work, and I always have them in my handbag too!
Annabelle: I will draw up my sketches on InDesign if I feel it needs more detail to communicate the design. We archive each range’s fabrics that we use – but during the design process the fabrics are always at hand on our desk for constant reference and inspiration.
When you’re suffering from ‘designer’s block’ where do you go to get your inspiration?
Laura: For me it’s important to switch off, and take time out from the constant influx of imagery.
I am on my computer all day, on my phone whilst walking to work or out and about. Finding time away from fashion – traveling, going to parks, working out or at a gallery is where I find the space for my best ideas.
How long does the entire design process take, from idea to garment?
Laura: The process for our brand is quite fast. I think that with the rise of social media, fashion and the needs of the customer have really sped up! The average girl can see a runway show in Paris in real time, and start to digest the trends, almost as we are in the design team! We are constantly adding product to ranges to keep it fresh and stock can land in the shops just a few months after we work on it.
What aspects of production are you directly involved in?
Annabelle: Laura and I are involved in the full lifecycle of a product. We will receive samples and always evaluate the design and consider how it could be better; if it could be improved by using a different fabric or colour, or if it might tie in more fluently within a different range. We work with our production team to track the status of our designs.
Laura: We go through extensive fittings on the range, in development stage and then once we sell, even up to the delivery. You have to check every stage so carefully as someone is going to live in what you design!
What’s the most satisfying element of your job?
Laura: Seeing your pieces out and about on fabulous women is pretty great. A sample arriving better than you had imagined. And being surrounded with a great team of creative, smart people, who have a laugh and get the job done is pretty great!
Annabelle: Seeing your black and white sketch turn into a tangible garment and watching it move and wear during a photoshoot. When our visions of the range come together in a final lookbook is definitely a satisfying moment. As designers we also receive a lot of consumer feedback and when we hear we’ve designed a winner that needs to be recut, or a customer wants more in a new fabric – that’s also really satisfying.
What important lessons have you learnt from working so closely with each other?
Laura: How important working collaboratively is. It’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off and evolve them further. Belle is such a hard worker, and I think we push each other to get the job done!
Annabelle: To work cohesively and compliment each other’s design approach! Additionally, Laura always pushes me to be a better designer so I’m always learning a new way of approaching an old technique.