The sydney Alémais label wins the National Designer Award 2022

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WORDS BY GIULIA BRUGLIERA




The label won the award for its “clear direction and unique aesthetic”.

Lesleigh Jermanus d’Alémais has been announced as the winner of this year’s National Designer Award. Presented by David Jones as part of PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival’s expanded new program, the award recognizes the vision of designers in their early years of business.

Alongside Alémais, five other emerging Australian designers have been shortlisted for this year’s award: E Nolan, Beare Park, Blanca, Joslin and Clea.


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This year’s jury consisted of several industry heavyweights, including vogue australiaPhilippa Moroney, Fashion Editor and Market Director, Harper’s Bazaar AustraliaJillian Davison, editor, and Camilla Freeman-Topper, designer and art director of Camilla and Marc. In the end, the judges selected Alémais for his “clear direction and unique aesthetic.”

Lesleigh launched Alémais in the midst of a pandemic on the floor of her living room. Like many in the fashion industry experience, she had a crisis of conscience, unsure if she could continue in an industry that has such detrimental effects on people and the planet.

When she heard repeated stories of orders being canceled by retailers, leaving suppliers with excess inventory and mounting debt, she felt compelled to act.

Drawing on over 20 years of experience in all areas of the fashion industry (including high-end and commercial), Lesleigh began talking to suppliers about what they had on hand.

She started Alémais with unsold items, already printed fabrics from canceled orders and even fully formed garments that retailers no longer wanted. “We turned a denim jacket into a mini skirt, we used sleeves to cut panels for the side seams,” she noted.

The brand has since expanded, now incorporating its own fabrics alongside dead stock, to drive the creative vision forward and, of course, to meet demand.

Alémais also won the People’s Choice Award, voted by more than 4,000 consumers. It was this award that seemed most exciting to Lesleigh, likely due to her connection to the brand’s consumers.

“Our client is very committed. They contact us all the time, there’s a lot of conversations about their likes and dislikes,” she said.

“People make an effort to achieve what I really love. And that’s a big deal because it inspires us as a brand and as creatives.

The third and final award given at the event was the Honorable Mention for Sustainability, given to Elinor Joslin, founder of Melbourne label Joslin. In her acceptance speech, the designer acknowledged all of the shortlisted finalists for their consideration of sustainable principles, noting that these considerations are at the heart of every brand.

Her position on the importance of sustainability in fashion was clear. “It’s the future of fashion. It’s where we need to go and it’s the only way forward,” she said.

Learn more about the National Designer Award and this year’s finalists here.

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