Simétrie founder: Simone Agius
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where the desire to design came from?
I was always creative as a child, and learned to sew, knit & crochet from my mother. She was always really supportive and nurtured me to pursue my creativity. In high school I studied fashion design, and this led to further studies at university level. My love for fashion actually stems from producing something that someone will love, and the sense of achievement you feel as a maker when that happens. When I entered design, I really missed the making side of fashion, which is why I set out to start Simétrie where all my designs are made in-house in my Melbourne studio.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned since starting the label?
The most valuable lesson since launching Simétrie in January in 2019 is learning from the customer. Business is all about serving your tribe, so I am always open to hearing what my customers have to say and responding in future collections. With my first collection I was asked for bigger bags, namely a tote style that you can throw your whole life into. I delivered 4 bigger styles in July, 2 of them a tote style, and are seeing good results so far. The Mosey Me x Simétrie hemp canvas tote is a relaxed yet unique everyday tote and a favourite amongst our tribe so far.
We know that aside from handcrafting leather goods, you also host workshops from your Brunswick studio. What made you start these workshops?
The workshops are about education first and foremost. The fashion industry is at crisis point – fashion goods are being over produced too fast, leading to exploitation of workers who produce the goods and waste that cause damage to our planet. The workshops are about teaching our manufacturing process, but also about why we aim to be sustainable and ethical with these processes. Not only are they informative but the workshops are also fun and a great way for people to get creative when they don’t normally dedicate this time to themselves. Many individuals are too busy getting through their busy lives and forget to nurture this part of themselves. Making something for yourself, something you can be proud of, then encourages you to explore more creative challenges. My aim is to nurture people’s creative journeys.
You state that your pieces are ‘ethically handmade’. What does ethical fashion mean to you?
For me ethical fashion is about the wellbeing, health and safety of the people who make fashion goods. Similar to the workshops, my aim is to nurture creativity in the workroom and to do this we’ve created a safe space where innovation and creative thinking can take place without fear of being dismissed. Most ideas are explored, and we have created a collaborative workplace as a result. Ethical fashion also means that workers are paid a fair price for their work. Our workers are contractors, therefore are paid according to their own set service rates.
What sets Simétrie apart from other leather goods brands?
Simétrie is different from other leather brands because I design and produce all the goods in-house made from all natural materials and ethical labour. I balance the human desire for quality fashion bags with the wellbeing of our planet and our workforce. I use vegetable tanned kangaroo leather, which is unique, durable and sustainable, and due to necessary wildlife management as opposed to factory farming, the leather is considered to be the most humane way to obtain leather. The leather is smooth, yet very natural looking as the kangaroos are harvested in the wild – this means you see some scars and marks on the finished product – a reminder that this came from an animal that lived his lift in his natural habitat. I chose to use kangaroo leather because of its ethical harvest and it’s tremendous properties for producing leather bags - it is strong, wears better with age, can be repaired easily, and is a natural material that will biodegrade at the end of the product’s life. Current leather alternatives are either too weak in their material structure or are made from plastic, which will inherently fall apart and end up in landfill and oceans, damage wildlife habitat, add to our planet’s waste issue and potentially become lethal to animals through ingestion. With Simétrie I didn’t want to contribute to the plastic pollution problem, so the focus is to use solely natural materials in my collections.
Do you have a career highlight since the launch of Simétrie?
There have been many highlights since the launch of Simétrie but one I was extremely proud to see was the first collection styled back with the garments of local brand Lois Hazel for the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival 2019. Seeing the bags looking beautiful on the runway in front of hundreds of people, with the dazzle of the runway, was a very rewarding moment.
How would you describe your own personal style?
My own personal style fluctuates, but I like to wear natural fibres and relaxed silhouettes. Lots of linen and plain knits.
Your products are so simple and easy to wear. Do you have a particular Simétrie piece that you use daily?
The bags are designed to be timeless and to be worn easily with many looks, making any Simétrie bag a great investment piece. Personally, I use the Universal Tote Pack every day for work to carry my laptop and other work essentials. This bag is great as I can transition easily from my commute to the workroom with the bag’s ability to convert from backpack to tote seamlessly. On weekends I change between the Medium Crescent Moon Bag and the Thick Crescent Moon Bag. The thicker style I wear for low key dinner dates, and the flatter style for more adventurous nights out so I can feel lighter on my feet.
You’re based in Melbourne, would you say that there is a definitive ‘Melbourne style’. If so how would you describe it?
There is definitely a Melbourne style, in fact there are a few. There is the luxe sports style, the clean and minimal style, the natural relaxed linen style, and then the more edgy and glam styles. Melbourne all in all aren’t afraid to wear their personality on their sleeves (literally) which is what makes Melbourne fashion so great. We are definitely not a conservative people.
What do you think the future retailing industry will be?
I think the future of retailing is moving towards made-to-order and custom-made more and more. People want to feel special with their purchases, which is why personalisation is such a huge trend.
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