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Elk, Bassike receive top honour in Australian fashion

“It was a real honour to have a seat at the table,” Marnie Goding, the co-founder and creative director of Elk The Label told Inside Retail, the day after receiving the inaugural award for sustainable innovation at the 2019 Australian Fashion Laureate.

“There are brands that have got far greater public recognition than we do…our company is still 60 per cent wholesale,” she explained, “so it was an honour to be recognised as a key player in the Australian fashion industry.”

The Australian Fashion Laureate celebrates individuals who have contributed to the growth and global promotion of the Australian fashion industry. This year was the first time there has been a category for Sustainable Innovation.

The win comes as Elk makes its first foray into Sydney retail through a pop-up store that will run over November and December in The Rocks.

“A couple of Sydney stores would be in order for us, but as a Melbourne company, the logistics of managing staff becomes a little more tricky to manage,” Goding said.

“The opportunity for the pop-up came through the Australian Fashion Council, and we’re very grateful. Depending on the reaction, it will give us a bit of market research,” she said.

Goding launched Elk with her partner Adam Koniaras in Melbourne in 2004. Initially a jewellery and accessories brand, Elk expanded into apparel about eight years ago. While the brand is still a majority wholesale business – selling through more than 1200 independent stores across 20 countries – it sells direct-to-consumer online and through three bricks-and-mortar stores in Melbourne.

Elk also is at the forefront of the shift towards sustainable manufacturing and trading in the retail sector. Last year, the brand appointed a new team member who is responsible for ethics and sustainability in every aspect of the business. And this year, it published its inaugural ‘transparency report’, detailing its efforts to use more environmentally-friendly materials, reduce its carbon footprint and pay people in its supply chain a living wage.

These are just some of the initiatives that impressed the voting panel of more than 30 industry leaders who selected this year’s Australian Fashion Laureate winners.

In addition to Elk, fashion brand Bassike was named Best Australian Retailer, jewellery line Sarah and Sebastian was named Best Australian Accessories and swimwear label Matteau was named Best Emerging Talent.

2019 Australian Fashion Laureate winners:

Australian Fashion Laureate: Laura Brown

Best Australian Womenswear: Lee Mathews

Best Australian menswear: Double Rainbouu (Mikey Nolan and Toby Jones)

Best Australian Emerging Talent: Matteau (Ilona Hamer and Peta Heinsen)

Best Australian Retailer: Bassike (Deborah Sams and Mary Lou Ryan)

Best Australian Accessories: Sarah and Sebastian (Sarah Gittoes and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki)

Model of the Year: Charlee Frase

Outstanding creative: Jillian Davison

Sustainable Innovation: Elk (Marnie Goding and Adam Koniaris)

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