Kirrily Johnston’s Fashion Comeback

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  • Article by Amy Bradney-George
  • April 04, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Two years after going into voluntary administration, Australian fashion designer Kirrily Johnston is relaunching in collaboration with another popular local label.

Cooper St Clothing, which has been in the industry for over 25 years, has teamed up with Johnston to launch the Cooper St Edit x Kirrily Johnston collection at the 2015 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

Johnston says the collaboration came about after several discussions with Patrick Clarke, one of Cooper St’s owners, in 2014 and early 2015.

“He called me early this year to tell me about the launch of Cooper Street Edit and offered me the opportunity to design the debut collection, a more premium offering for a really successful commercial brand. I thought it was a great gig for me,” she says in an interview with Vogue Australia.


A photo posted by kirrilyjohnston (@kirrilyjohnston) on

Johnston spent 12 years building up her eponymous label that, at its peak, had three boutiques and stockist deals with the likes of David Jones. But in 2013 the designer made the tough call to hand the reigns over to administrators, saying “a culmination of GFC issues and manufacturing bad luck…tipped the business over the edge”.

“With retail stores really suffering because of the amount of sales they are losing to online purchases, many boutiques treat local wholesale orders as if they are trading on consignment,” she said in a statement at the time.

“This situation makes running a business almost impossible when you have paid for those products up front every step of the way.”

Johnston – who tried to keep manufacturing in Australia – also had problems with a shoe manufacturer and a fabric supplier who refused to refund payments for faulty goods, compounding the other issues and leading to the end of her label.

But this new direction, in collaboration with Cooper St, shows there is still a future after such serious setbacks. Johnston says it’s also taught her a lot about business and the industry, which she can now apply in new ways through the new label.

“The beauty of what I did and created was that it taught me every facet of running a company and connected me to the most talented fashion creatives in the country,” she tells Vogue Australia.

“I think it’s appreciated that I can work creatively yet understand the dynamics of the cogs.

My business brain and my creative brain are inextricably linked and that is of great value.” As well as working with Cooper St, Johnston also has an upcoming capsule collection available through Husk from April 2015.


A photo posted by kirrilyjohnston (@kirrilyjohnston) on

The Cooper St Edit x Kirrily Johnston collection is being launched at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Sydney on Thursday, 16th April 2015, with more information available on the MBFW website.

Images: Kirrily Johnston (second from right) in a meeting for the MBFF Cooper St launch, source: Instagram

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