Melbourne designer Jude Ng has been creating clothes that are stylish, environmentally responsible, comfortable and for all genders for the last four years in tiny atelier-cum-store in one of the city’s hippest suburbs.
The idea to combine a store and an atelier in the same space was due mostly to practicalities like cost, and Jude’s desire to be close to his customers. Customer feedback is an important part of how he creates his designs, says Jude. His small team has a design assistant, a pattern-maker, and an intern.
Jude’s style is a cross between Yohji Yamamoto, Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood, his two original sources of inspiration, translated through his Singaporean heritage and Melbourne home.
Focusing on using materials that have an inbuilt soft and comfortable texture, using deadstock and eco-friendly fabrics, the pieces of his collections come in non-gendered designs that are flattering to all sexes.
Some of the designs have been so popular, that they are recreated every season in new fabrics; customers become fans returning every collection to add to their Jude wardrobe.
“I am super anti fast fashion, my ethos is very focused on bringing back local production and local industry. There are so many talented makers in Australia so I want to give them work and keep the skills here,” says Jude.
“And in terms of sustainability, in my practice I use a lot of deadstock fabrics sourced locally in Melbourne like Wall that does a lot of deadstock natural fibres. Natural fibres is also a focus for the brand; I find that it wears so much better, breathes so much better.
“Also, in my studio space I do a lot of upcycling. The store decor is all recycled and made using found materials … sustainability is such a part of our aesthetic.”
Originally a painter, Jude gradually found his work transforming via the addition of fabric to his work; three-dimensional soft sculptures morphed into wearable art, and eventually the art turned into fashion.
Additional training in cutting and pattern-making has seen the label grow into a mix of sharply tailored coats and jackets, combined with more voluminous draping and shaping. Recent collections have also seen a move towards multifunctional garments that can be adapted – skirts with scarves attached, long coats that can be shortened.
Layering is a core part of Jude’s design practice, influenced not only by Melbourne’s notoriously fickle weather, but also inspired by his connection to Asian traditional clothing.
That same influence is also behind Jude’s concept of non-gendered clothing, looking towards historical Asian costume for example of men in skirts, and women in trousers, as well as the influence of three older sisters who were tomboys in the ‘90s.
“I wanted to cater to as many people as I could,” explains Jude, “When I started [designing] a lot of my clothes were free size, and I found that both women and men responded to it equally. And from there I realised that a lot of my shapes could become unisex.”
This focus on more loose-cut fittings, oversized shapes, few patterns and non-gendered colour choices became a part of Jude’s overall ‘clothes for everybody’ agenda.
The idea of anti-fast fashion also runs through Jude’s central design aesthetic. With every collection being able to be worn back with pieces from previous seasons.
“Our customers can find pieces in the current collection that can be worn with pieces from collections four years ago. I want our customers to just keep on wearing their pieces until they wear out,” says Jude.
For his AW2020 collection entitled The Artisan, Jude is highlighting the importance of the maker and handcrafting our garments. With a mix of traditional construction techniques and new cutting styles, the collection features coats, jackets, jumpers and tunics worn in a series of layers.
A genuine love of high quality fabrics with a soft hand-feel can be seen in Jude’s choice of fabrics for the AW2020 collection. Italian wools, Australian merino wools, lush viscose ponti double knits, raw Italian linen and denims, are all part of the collection. Colours echo the tones of nature with deep emerald, petrol blue, burnt umber and rose ochre mixed with classic slate, charcoal and black.
Jude is launching The Artisan AW2020 collection at an intimate runway show held in his atelier on March 12, 2020. The show will not only have a traditional runway, but will also show off the creative activity behind the making of the garments with the designer on stage sewing. Attendees will be able to touch and try on the clothes while there with pieces from the runway being available to buy on the night.
JUDE The Artisan AW20 Runway event will be held on 12 March 2020, at JUDE Flagship Store. 252 Johnston St, Fitzroy, from 6pm – 9.30pm. There will be two shows. For tickets, go to https://vamff.com.au/event/jude-the-artisan-aw20-collection/.
Designer: Jude Ng @designbyjude; Photography: Danielle Chau @danielleciaochau; Female Talent: Ailene Wu @ailenewu; Male Talent: Jeff Kissubi @jeffsterkiss_; Head Stylist: Tamara Leacock @reciclagem; MUA: Nicole Giardossi @nicolegiardossimakeup
The Artisan AW2020 Collection. Designer: Jude Ng @designbyjude; Photography: Daniel Mallia @mallia___; Talent: Victoria Haslam; Stylist: Tamara Leacock @reciclagem