BEHIND THE BRAND: WE INTERVIEW TARA MCNEELA, DESIGNER OF SWIMWEAR LABEL SETS OF SEVEN
The Dress Collective is proud of its growing Australian made fashion family and our most recent addition is a testament to our ethical fashion ethos. Below, Tara McNeela shares her inspirations, her personal story and her passion for her Australian owned, designed and made swimwear label, Sets of Seven.
Who or what influenced your relationship with fashion growing up?
I was influenced by my mother growing up. She was a dress maker and made a lot of her own clothes as well as clothes and swimwear for my sister and I. We would choose our own prints, colours and designs and mum would whip them up for us and sometimes I would also make some of my own clothes. Being able to design something from scratch that you can wear gives you a different appreciation for fashion elements from different cuts to embellishments, finishes and fabrics.
Did you study fashion or are you self-taught?
I am self-taught. I have many relatives that have been involved in fashion from dress making to tailoring to pattern making, so designing pieces from textiles has evolved naturally for me.
What led you to launching a brand and when did you launch?
I felt the need to creatively express myself through a swimwear brand and fill the gap where there was a lack of unique quality Australian made swimwear. I see swimwear and bikinis as an expression of femininity and I like to stand out rather than blend in at the beach in the same bikini as everyone else.
Describe your brand to our readers?
Unique, wearable, modern, coastal, flirty and feminine.
Where are your garments designed and made?
All of our garments are designed in my home studio in a small coastal town on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and made here on our own shores in Australia.
What challenges do you face as an Australian made brand?
There are many challenges that an Australian made brand faces. Competition from brands who manufacture overseas can impact my business by offering garments a lot cheaper due to the costs of Australian wages being higher. Limited companies offering services in the industry also means no competition among suppliers and therefore supplier costs can be very inflated. Despite this though, we believe offering Australian made garments to our customers gives our brand an unprecedented level of quality, class and superiority – a true reflection of our passion for the Australian fashion industry.
Brand highlights or achievements to date?
A highlight would be winning Young Designer of the Year and Swim Designer of the Year in 2015 only a year after launching my first collection, and showcasing at The Dress Collective Runway in 2016 as part of the VAMFF.
Anything you’d like our readers to know that you haven’t been asked?
I have been very lucky to work with so many fantastic industry professionals from rising models, stylists, outstanding fashion photographers and makeup artists, and I've collaborated with a whole range of other talented creatives since I commenced in 2014. I'm very grateful for our local creative industry, I love it.
Support Australian made labels and shop the full range from Sets of Seven here.