Last year, at Austin Fashion Week, I had the great pleasure of meeting and falling in love with autark, and it’s designer/owner Sophia McMahon. From puff sleeve dresses and tops, to the ethical and slow approach, the pieces in each collection of Autark are just dreamy, and make me feel sophisticated and the little girl in me LOVES twirling in them! Sophia is charming, and we both love our cats and “Law and Order”, and I knew that I wanted to share my love of Sophia’s autark with you!
I got the chance to sit with Sophia and learn a bit about her brand, her story, and where she wants to take us with her fashion:
IP: What drew you to fashion design? How did you get started?
I was always interested in design, but a lot more academically focussed while I was at school. After I finished school and went to university, I worked for a couple of years in a completely different career – I enjoyed it but didn’t feel challenged. After taking some time to consider my career direction, I decided to take a leap and pursue the interest I’d always had, but felt a little to afraid to chase after. I enrolled at TAFE here in South Australia, and started autark straight after graduating in 2016.
How would you describe Autark’s mission? Who do you design for?
My mission is quite lofty – it’s to change the way that consumers think about their clothing. Firstly, I want people to think differently about the clothes they buy – what clothes they purchase and how often, how they care for the clothes that they own, and what they do with them at the end of the life of the clothing. My wish for customers is that they don’t feel the pressure of purchasing more often, that they buy well made, beautiful pieces that they can wear much more frequently, but that last for a long time.
Secondly, I want people to know that slow fashion can be fun, light and fashion forward! The aim for my pieces is that they are versatile and classic, yet with a design perspective or point of interest.
I design for women of all ages, who are interested in fashion and design, ethics, and who know their own mind. I absolutely adore seeing customers in autark pieces – it really gives me a buzz like nothing else.
I know that your line is Eco-friendly. What processes do you use to get your line that way?
I am so proud of our progress in the way that we approach limiting our impact in as many different areas of our process as possible.
All of our pieces are still made here in Adelaide, Australia, which is wonderful – it’s fantastic being able to build relationships with our manufacturers and see their beautiful work in real time. We are also really excited that our next collection will be made entirely from deadstock fabric, which is fabric that was not utilised by its previous owner. And of course, all fabric continues to be 100% natural fibres.
For the future we are focussing on further refining our processes particularly in regards to the sustainability of our practices, and will be exploring different ways of processing our fabric offcuts, as well as the kinds of finishings we use for our pieces. It’s something that we work to improve on a continuous basis.
Take us through the Autark process-design, manufacturing, etc.
We are currently producing one collection per year, so throughout the year I collate inspiration and design ideas. I’ll then start sourcing fabrics and try to match fabric and design ideas together. Next comes the sampling, to see how the fabrics work with the designs, which then flows on to production.
There is a lot of problem solving at every step of the way, but it keeps me on my toes!
If someone was to buy just one piece from your line, what would you recommend? What would you say is your signature piece?
That’s a really tricky one to answer! Can I say an outfit? Probably the Puff Sleeve Bodice and High Waisted Pant. I just adore this outfit – to me it epitomises what I am trying to achieve with the label. Two classic pieces that can be put together as one statement outfit, which can then be broken apart to be dressed up or down. I love this outfit with heels, or sneakers, the pant with a t-shirt, and the bodice with jeans. The possibilities are practically endless!
I know the fashion community in Australia is supportive and welcoming. Is there anything you’d love people to know about it?
I’m so proud of our local industry here in Adelaide, and as a greater whole in Australia. There is so much talent here, and in my opinion a really unique, fresh and easy design perspective. The Adelaide community in particular is creative, proactive and energetic, and I feel privileged to be a part of it.
My favorite pieces from Autark are also the puff sleeve pieces! (You can shop the dress and top) I urge to explore all the collections at autark. The collections are so beautiful, classic, and charming! Sophia, autark, and Australia are things I love, and this month a portion of proceeds from Autark will be donated to the wildfire relief in Australia, so we can all feel great about shopping!
I hope that you love Sophia and autark as much as I do, happy shopping!