TOILÉ STUDIOS' NEW MODULAR "NOMAD" COLLECTION IS CHANGING OUR PERCEPTIONS ABOUT WORKWEAR

Melbourn based brand Toile Studios just released ‘NOMAD’ TRANSITIONAL A/W21

TOILÉ STUDIOS is an independent brand based in Melbourne, Australia that focus on the modern women’s workwear. As a fashion practice, TOILÉ STUDIOS acts as an ongoing exploration of what workwear means, where the definition is constantly evolving in the current social~individual setting of our customers. Through constant exploration; the area of empowerment, comfort, and ease-of-movement are often the revolutionising & defining aspects of women’s workwear within the different time periods— the past, the present, and the future. We met with designer Nadya Kusumo to learn more about the story behind TOILÉ STUDIOS and get all hot news around the latest "Nomad" Collection straight from the source.

YUGEN: Hello Nadya it's pleasure to meet you and we are honoured to be the first platform to feature your "Nomad" Collection. Taking a step back could you tell us more about your experience starting TOILÉ STUDIOS?

Nadya: TOILÉ STUDIOS started out being my ‘imaginary’ brand from my honours year in RMIT University. In the course, we have to do a lot of experiment in the form of toile (which means prototypes) before making the final garments. Hence the name ‘TOILÉ STUDIOS’ started off being kind of a comedic play of word from that experience. But as I progress, I decided to keep the name because i feel that it actually embodies my fashion practice as a constant experiment & work in progress— a series of garment that is always originating from the previous one, constantly modifying and moulding itself to a better version. My graduate collection which was featured in Melbourne Fashion Week 2019 gained some interest and people around me started inquiring about placing orders which I am super thankful for. Graduating in conjunction with the start of the pandemic, I decided to gradually start taking custom orders during Melbourne’s lockdown in 2020. The brand organically grow from there and voila! The ‘real’ TOILÉ STUDIOS is born.

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YUGEN: What is the essence of the brand in a few words?

Nadya: I like to call it an ‘Innovative Wardrobe Solutions’ for one of those days where you just can’t seem to find anything in your wardrobe. Most of our pieces are reversible, detachable and can be worn a couple of different ways, we constantly find new ways to wear the pieces so you’ll never get bored of it! They are thoughtfully designed to consider the customer’s wardrobe, imagining how they will fit be layered into their wardrobe, the previous collection and also other pieces from the current collection.

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YUGEN: What was the concept and inspiration behind your new NOMAD collection?

Nadya: I grew up quite multi-culturally as a Chinese ethnic born and raised in Indonesia, and then went on to move to Australia. I often question how my cultural roots in the East and then exposure to the West affect the way I see things. In this sense I feel like the pieces that I produce are a melting pot of my experience to date, creating a nomadic identity. I also experimented with the identity of a clothing piece and then reimagining it for a different context. What makes a sweater a sweater? What makes a scarf a scarf? Every type of garment have an ‘identity’ through its construction, finish and cut. For example, if someone use a sweater draped over their shoulder with the sleeves covering the neck , does it then become a scarf? Because a scarf is defined as “a length of fabric worn around the neck or head”. Based on this fact, does it then become a jacket and also a scarf? In this way, I see the piece of clothing as having a nomadic identity as well, a melting pot of their experience around the body.

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YUGEN: What does your creative process look like?

Nadya: I feel like my collection is always an homage of the previous collections. I always try to consider the need of the wearer— updating the collection with more functional and comfortable pieces, while still holding on to the idea of a transformable and multiway garment. I will often sit in front of a busy street and just observe how people utilise their garments & how their gestures can change the garments. I liked subverting and playing with the function of classic archetypes which enable me to create a new ‘identity’ for the garment. Through doing a recontextualisation of clothing objects, the pieces are always designed with modularity in mind— For example the Cypher top, is it a sleeve? A glove? Or a scarf? It’s all of them in one. Or the Heartbreak top, is it a corset? A tank top? Or a cardigan? You know the answer!

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YUGEN: Sustainability in fashion is a very important topic and nowadays goes hand in hand with the storytelling and creativity behind the brand. How do you think about sustainability and your impact with TOILÉ STUDIOS?

Nadya: I like to think that modularity and multifunction garments is my way to address over-consumption. In this way, my customer could consume less clothing but get more wear out of it. They can be worn backwards, with detachable sleeves, can be layered separately, and can be worn in multiple directions. Every piece can serve multiple purpose, dressed up and down. Material-wise, I often opt for natural, renewable, and bio-degradable fabrics such as cotton and wool while where we have to use synthetics, we source low- impact recycled polyester or nylon with guaranteed ethical/transparent supply chain from our reliable local manufacturers. In the ‘NOMAD’ collection, 80% of the collection is made from 100% ethically & locally sourced Merino Wool while the rest that need extra performance such as the Suffix Pants and Syntax Skirt are made from Nuyarn Merino which uses 15% nylon core for extra stretch— this fabric uses 25% less overall energy consumption compared to other blended material. Our pieces are slowly and locally produced in Melbourne by myself and a small- run manufacturer. TOILÉ STUDIOS also operates on a made-to-order business model to eliminate excess stock and only manufacture orders when they come in.

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YUGEN: What do you want people to take away from this collection?

Nadya: I want people to be able to dress down or dress up in my pieces, layering it with their own garments and become an essential piece in their wardrobe. Comfortable enough to wear at home, but also dressy enough for a night out!

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