Interview with Alexandra Coleborn, Founder of Gloria Dulcie
Alexandra Coleborn is the founder of Gloria Dulcie, an independent boutique fashion label based in Brisbane. Originally studying fashion design ten years ago, Alexandra forewent creating a fashion line straight out of school as she felt she needed more life experience – which is exactly what she got spending years living abroad. Attributing her love of fashion to her mother and sister, and what she describes as a ‘latent interest in boys’, Alexandra’s style is best described as a perfect blend of modern femininity mixed with a touch of old school sophistication.
Alexandra is a firm believer of breaking traditional trend cycles, preferring to enable others to create their own unique looks without the need for ‘fast fashion.’ Her latest collection, ‘Kogarashi’ is available online now.
Can you tell me a bit about how your fashion journey started?
I studied a Diploma in Fashion ten years ago and I originally tried to start a label quite young but I found it overwhelming so I put a lid on it for a while. I worked for a few boutiques such as Q Design and different kinds of hipster stores in Australia and Canada. During this time I was archiving my designs and inspirations, knowing that I’d eventually come back to it and start my own label again. I took the leap three years ago and spent a good year designing my collection in Bali. I was manufacturing when I launched in June 2015.
What made you decide to come to QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA)
After manufacturing in Bali I became quite disillusioned with the fashion industry. Consumers were starting to demand more transparency and I felt like Gloria Dulcie was kind of on the periphery of that. I didn’t feel as connected to my brand knowing the standards of quality that I had. I was looking to pivot my business and needed a mentor so I started Googling and a Facebook ad for CEA came up. I applied as I thought it seemed pretty much perfect for what I needed. I hadn’t really had a lot of support, especially when I moved back to Australia. It was good to be around inspiring women all doing the same thing.
How would you describe ‘Gloria Dulcie?’
A transparent, minimalist kind of label. I focus on subtle details and use all natural fabrics. It has a sort of whimsical undertone, you can feel a bit of nostalgia – it reminds me of a modern Grace Kelly on holiday in Europe.
What’s it like being in an environment with other designers?
Incredibly inspiring and very supportive. There are a lot of different styles here, everyone comes from different backgrounds and inspirations. It’s nice that we can help each other and offer different opinions. It’s been really motivating as being at home can be a bit of a struggle. Being at CEA adds that good little bit of pressure and pushes you to do more.
What would you say has been your biggest hurdle?
I think just really ensuring I had a quality product and knowing exactly how to push that. Also, feeling confident enough to approach stores as I feel like I’ve always been a bit held back. I’ve never had the mentality to ‘fake it until you make it.’ I’ve always been very honest with customers and that has sometimes worked in my favour and other times not so much. Next to that would be my digital marketing. That’s probably my biggest struggle as I’m not that tech savvy and it’s quite expensive to employ someone to do that!
Who’s your go-to for inspiration?
I’m heavily inspired by David Lynch and the surrealist artists from the early 20th Century like Dali and Rene Magritte. I find inspiration everywhere, like a view from a window, a song or a quote from a book. I feel like all of these images run in my head and slowly a collection is born from it. I love Chloe Sevigny as you can always trust going and looking at her, seeing what she’s been up to and who she’s working with. Those artistic circles. I constantly do mood boards too, I have hundreds of images on my computer that are split up into different folders that I constantly go back to. It reassures me that I’m sticking to my true self and that the inspiration behind the label has remained consistent.
What have you got coming up?
After the showcase I’ll be doing the pop-up shop on James St. My partner is a ceramic artist so we’re looking at pop up shops to do together in Brisbane but we’re feeling that Byron Bay may be more our market. I’ve been contacting boutiques to do showings and acquiring stockists. I’d like to do a trade show so I’ve been talking to Thuy (CEA’s Fashion Development Manager) about that. It’s all a bit airy fairy at the moment, to be honest!
My goal for this year is to get four stockists and build online sales. I’d like to be doing a European trade show in the next two years as I feel like that’s more my market. I’d eventually like to have a flagship store in Byron Bay, which would be great! That’s essentially my five-year goal – to grow the business!