From an outside perspective it might seem like the Australian fashion industry has dramatically changed over the past decade, but Lisa Gorman doesn’t necessarily agree. Her label Gorman has been on the scene for over ten years now, and what started as a solo bedroom operation has expanded to five flagship stores including at major shopping precincts Westfield Bondi Junction and Westfield Doncaster. Last year marked the 10th birthday for the brand where celebrations for the milestone were kept fairly understated – no naked women jumping out of cakes.
“We moved office!” Lisa told Pedestrian when we spoke to her for our Westfield Presents… series. “Not particularly romantic, but a sign that we’d established ourselves enough over the last decade to require an new home by the river in Abbotsford. I’m thinking more about a 13th birthday bash, the year of becoming a teenager.”
Funnily enough, the design ethos of Gorman has a very ‘teenage’ feel: fresh, modern and naturally beautiful. Lisa said the inspiration is simple: “I’m inspired by the everyday – everyday people doing everyday things. Easy!… I’m sure i still appear baffled every time someone from the office says ‘that’s very gorman’. I can’t tell you exactly what that is…”
Any devotees to the brand would probably agree there is something unmistakably “Gorman” about the clothes. Also unmistakable is the unique design and illustrations of Melbourne artist Beci Orpin who has enjoyed a long-lasting creative partnership with Lisa Gorman and her label. “We’ve been friends for many years, well before i started Gorman. We often met on the dancefloor at The Lounge and in later years, at the office talking print work for Gorman collections. She’s very true to her style and I love that about her as an artist. We now both have kids, still mates, still making clothes and prints… rolling along!”
Lisa balances designing collections with managing her retail stores and being a mother – and somehow does it all without dropping the ball. How the hell does it all come together? “The balance just sort of happens, depends on the priority of the day/week/month, the design cycle, the retail cycle, events, launches, store openings.. I don’t mind being busy as long as it’s varied, so it suits me. It’s a matter of analysing what’s priority so you don’t get your knickers in a knot with everything that needs to happen. Great staff are vital, and a good ability to allocate makes for smooth sailing.”
Smooth sailing for ten years is a real achievement in Australia’s dynamic and oft-changing fashion industry, but it’s something that Lisa Gorman has kept surprisingly zen about: “A decade goes fast, and it’s been busy, so i’ve not been conscious of change i don’t suppose”, she said. “I don’t feel that it’s changed a whole lot, except that some designers move on and others appear, a normal evolution that keeps fashion exciting.”