Anthea Crawford was once a little girl who made clothes with her mother. Now, she’s a household fashion name and the Design Director of her self-titled label, employing 130 Australian-based staff.

A leader in the fashion industry for over 40 years, Anthea’s aesthetic is classic and feminine, and her pieces are made to last – a rarity in today’s fast fashion society. She designs with integrity, reflecting her brand image through each unique garment, and despite industry pressure to produce quick, disposable clothing, the slow fashion model is the only Anthea is interested in.

“Fast fashion has changed the industry and the way people shop; they are always adding pieces to their wardrobe instead of buying seasonally. Fast fashion is a challenge for traditional retail businesses and regular department stores. We do things differently; we design garments using sustainable fabrications, providing years of wear. We know for a fact that our customers have garments from 20 years ago that are still relevant to their wardrobe today, and they don’t want to part with them.”

The high level of craftsmanship of a handmade Anthea Crawford piece is one of the many reasons why the label has been in the business for over 40 years. While the fashion industry’s perception of quality has changed over the last four decades, Anthea’s ideal haven’t, and she has survived with meticulous preplanning and organisation.

“All designs start with a hand sketch, followed by fabric selection. A lot of our styles are engineered around the fabric; whether it is a digital print or a delicate lace. We then drape the style, and if it works, it’s processed into a sample.”

In an industry that expects a new capsule collection each week, Anthea’s methods aren’t without setbacks, but only the best pieces make their way from samples to shop floor. It’s a slow process that generates small collections, but it ensures integrity, and each piece serves a wearable purpose in the everyday woman’s wardrobe.

“Retail is a very challenging environment for local and international designers, but we’re proud of the brand’s heritage, and of the fact that we’re still relevant to an established but younger clientele. We’re holding our place within the Australian retail market.”

Anthea’s strong business ethics have something to do with this stronghold too; 41 years on from her Melbourne beginnings, she is still designing and producing 98% of her collection in Australia, and local manufacturing is a commitment she isn’t willing to waiver on.

“We were accredited in 2013 as ethical manufacturers by Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA), which means our entire supply chain has been audited, finding that all of our garments are sourced and made under ethical conditions. We are passionate about the people who are involved in creating our products, and we want to ensure this skill set doesn’t get pushed out of Australia and lost forever. Supporting local and sustainable manufacturers is crucial. Most Australian brands produce offshore which is taking away jobs and a unique skill set from Australia, but we’re staying true to our clients and the Australian marketplace.”

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