The work of 24 charismatic Greek clothes and accessories designers offered Australian buyers their first material feel of Hellenic style
In mid-October, The Greek Style Council, a novel initiative developed by Greek Australian Helen Tirekides to showcase the designs of emerging and established Greek designers, gathered the crème de la crème of Australia’s fashion glitterati at La Porte Space in Sydney, to present a pop-up venture of Made In Greece garments and accessories for the first time. “The buyers were taken aback by the craftsmanship, sheer volume of talent and innovation presented by the designs,” says Tirekidis, who has worked in the marketing management and communications departments of leading luxury brands like Giorgio Armani, Chanel, Issey Miyake and Jean Paul Gaultier for over 20 years. “I was also reminding them that there are many, many more which were not in the showroom.”
The route to making it all happen was somewhat arduous for Tirekidis, especially on the financial level: “I was pushing upwards with no funds to do right for these designers,” she says, yet it was well worth it, not only for the results the event yielded – with media showing great enthusiasm and calling her daily to shoot featured designs and bloggers like Romy Freedman and Margaret Zhang already wearing some of the designers, like Liana Camba – but because it made for the positive start of something she intends to continue.
Established Greek designers like Liana Camba, Parthenis, Elena Makri, Angelos Bratis, Zeus + Dione, and Yiorgos Eleftheriades, emerging designers like Christina Economou and Ioanna Kourbella and brands like Gaffer & Fluf and The Artians, bags by Salty Bag and Lommer and Grace Atelier De Luxe and shoes (mainly sandals) by Valia Gabriel were amongst those featured, all selected by Tirekidis according to their craftsmanship and intent to market themselves internationally. The local fashion press have been quick to jump on all the brands,” says Tirekidis, “and Australian stores like The Iconic, Mr & Mrs Smith, Becker & Minty, Hunt Leather, Husk and more want to feature Greek brands among their collections.”
Tirekidis’s mission is not just about adding another dimension to fashion in Australia, it is also very much of a personal mission to honour the hard work and talents of her fellow Greeks. She has said that she wants to show through The Greek Style Council “all that is going right in Greece” and the Greek designers were willing to join this project as it was created purely to help them build a new market. In a recent interview she said “I was always a little frustrated that not many Australian people knew about what was going right in Greece… I want people to know that despite the dire economic circumstances, Greece is prevailing and pushing through and creating more and more. It’s almost like the crisis has fuelled a design revolution. The fact that they are producing amazing pieces to an international standard – given their limited economic support and resources – makes them true heroes to me.”
So what’s next? “There are limitless possibilities,” she says, “and we are now working on Phase 2 of the project. It’s time to get those brands to the public online. We are already working with bloggers and fashion stylists to have Greek brands showcased. Retailing is a tough game around the world… it takes time to build. This is an Australian PR exercise for Greek labels… And now Australian fashion press and retailers know who they all are.”