Sydney Retail Festival

Featured Exhibitor: Kianna Magelaki

Kianna Magelaki is the woman behind KIANNA - ready-to-wear and custom garments designed for women.

We are delighted to have such a gorgeous brand exhibiting at the Sydney Retail Festival this September and in anticipation we have interviewed this up-and-coming designer about her story, inspirations and design values.

Fashion Buyers & Industry Professionals can register to attend the trade show to view the collection in person by booking through this link.

You started your label Kianna in 2018 and you are killing it! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how your brand was born.

The brand was born after I had spent several years working in various jobs roles across Retail, Fashion , Bridal & Styling. I've known since I was 16 that I've wanted to have my own label however it took years of battling self doubt and gaining courage that I finally took a leap of faith.

I started getting into fashion from such an early age. I'm not sure how it came about I just remember being 16 and finding myself obsessing over Vogue and celebrity styling. I went on to study Fashion Design in my final years of high school and then continued on at RMIT. I failed my first semester at uni, and felt like I never fitted in. I was surrounded by people who had such incredible talent and majority of the time I felt that I wasn't good enough to be there. My brand was born from a mixture of knock backs and resilience.

When I started my label, I knew it was time. For me there is nothing more satisfying than seeing someone wearing one of my pieces.

The label is still in such in such early stages, and there is so much room for growth. People often say If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. However I have found that you end up working 100 times harder and make so many sacrifices to do what you love.

How would you describe the Kianna woman?

The KIANNA women is modern, fashion forward and knows how to dress. She lets her most feminine side shine yet is sophisticated and powerful. She is hard working, go getting & strong.

What I love the most about the KIANNA woman is that she really is whoever she wants to be. I've had women from 16 all the way through to 50 wear pieces from my collection. There is no limitation she can be anyone.

Kianna has a strong reputation for its quality and craftsmanship. What is your production process?

We strive for our production process to be the best that it can. There is nothing more satisfying than having a customer or client acknowledge the quality of our garments.We produce our garments in Guangzhou, China. Our reasoning as to why we produce in China over Australia was an extremely tough decision to make at first however I believe that China is extremely miss conceived. As 90% of fabric that can be purchased in Australia originally comes from China, I wanted to cut out a step in the supply chain process, if the fabric came from China, I felt it would be best to keep production in China too.  Today, China is extremely advanced in its Technology, our factory uses electronic pattern making systems which implement the elimination of excess fabric consumption.

To ensure we meet quality standards we do not mass produce, rather our garments are made in small production lines.  This also ensures that we ethically are meeting safe working conditions from our manufacturers for their employees and ensuring that we do not participate in waste consumption.

When we design a collection we only consciously order the styles that have been selected during the sale season.

I've known sustainability has always been such a huge issue within the fashion industry and it is something I've always wanted to incorporate within my business. Being a small business with limited resources has made it difficult however as the brand grows, it gives me the opportunity to explore and implement new ideas and strategies . My aim for the business is to work towards reducing our environmental footprint by de-creasing non-renewable resources.

What does a typical working day look like for you?

Up until a few weeks ago I was also working full time, this really helped me fund label. I would generally wake up at 4.30am to get some exercise in and having such a demanding job I would then work 10 + hours a day. I would finish my night off by working on my label I would generally spend 2-4 hours a night and most weekends working on it, this is where I would design, pack orders and respond to emails.

I finally took a leap of faith and decided that I needed to give more back to my business if I wanted it to grow, now that I am no longer working full time I am still in the process of trying to figure out how to best structure my day. Now I have so much more time it allows me to focus and give my undivided attention to all aspects of the business.

Kianna has been spotted on numerous influencers and celebrities. How important has building your affiliate strategy been as an emerging fashion label?

Starting a business in such a saturated market hasn't been easy. Although there are many marketing resources available  when you are up against big brands who have bigger budgets to outlay on marketing strategies it makes it hard for us much smaller brands to be noticed.

Being an emerging fashion label and having influencers and celebrities  has really helped with how the label is viewed from a consumer point of view. I've found that customers are acknowledging and taking the brand more seriously. They are seeing the product first hand on people who influence their decisions, they are then able to build a direct trust with the brand.

Which Instagram accounts are your favourites to follow for inspiration?

I don't usually tend to use instagram for inspiration, I find it too overwhelming. However If I had to pick my  favourite account would have to be CR Fashion Book. I want to build the brand on authenticity so I tend to look for inspiration in fashion magazines and fashion books. I find this is the best way for me to avoid distractions, especially during the design process.

In a 2016 interview with your school Melbourne Fashion institute you said it was your dream to one day own your own fashion label and you have achieved this goal - congratulations! What is next for Kianna Magelaki?

Crazy! I went back through that interview not that long ago and although it is something I did say I wanted to achieve, I never really thought I would.

Whats next is really focusing on the growth of the business. By September the label will have been operating for a year. I would love to see the label in more boutiques and retailers across Australia. I am also working with an American based PR agency, who I am hoping can reach potential retailers overseas.

What can fashion buyers expect to see from Kianna at the Sydney Retail Festival this September?

I am continuing to evolve, this will be the fourth collection for the label. Each season I feel that I have progressed as I am learning more each day. As a designer I don't want to limit myself  or feel the need to keep up with trends. I want to create garments that can be re-worn. In regards to the collection, you will have to see for yourself, if you attend the trade show!