Wendy Johnson checks out CARDIF, and CARDIF Collective, a brand new initiative for Canberra designers.
When Chris Lloyd was young she knew creative veins ran through her body. She was fascinated by design and never hesitated to create fashion for herself, family and friends. She loved being surrounded by fabric, thread and scissors and her soul was always satisfied by the sweet sounds of her sewing machine.
Although passionate, Chris’s dream to be a designer was put on hold as she pursued a professional career in the public service and as an independent contractor. Such is life.
But after 20 long years, Chris has hauled her sewing machine out of storage and is starting her own fashion label—Minimum. If that isn’t exciting enough, Chris, and her husband David Traylen, have started CARDIF, Canberra and Region Designers in Fashion, which will open officially in early 2016.
CARDIF is occupying an amazingly large space overlooking Green Square, Kingston, and providing centrally located, light-filled studio and retail space to selected fashion designers to help them realise their aspirations. It’s fitting that CARDIF is in Kingston, one of Canberra’s first commercial centres. It occupies 685m² space on Level 1 of the Cusack Centre.
“In looking for space for Minimum I quickly realised that rent can be super expensive,” says Chris. “But more than that, it can be lonely working on your own and creatives need to be inspired, share, learn and connect. It’s all important to the creative process.”
When Chris and David stumbled across the space they decided to take the plunge knowing that a lot of blood, sweat and tears would be needed to transform it, especially since it had sat empty for eons. Twelve individual studios will be available, as will a common area including two large cutting tables, storage, racking, a lounge and kitchen facilities. A pattern maker and machinist will be on site and available to designers on a fee-for-service basis.
CARDIF, a not-for-profit, also runs CARDIF Collective, the retail side of the operation. The designers occupying studios will sell to the public through the collective, as will other members of CARDIF.
Although there’s still a massive amount of work needed to finish the space, CARDIF Collective is hosting its first pop-up celebrating Christmas and giving visitors a chance to say hello, so from 12 to 22 December, close to 30 creatives will have Australian jewellery, fashion, millinery, accessories, homewares, accessories, and more, on show and for sale. “It’s a bit of a test run so not all the creatives involved in the pop-up shop are official members of CARDIF, but that’s not a worry at this stage,” says Chris. “The aim is to give visitors a chance to see the space and say hello.”
Several designers have already signed up to CARDIF studio space. Edwina Woods has already moved in, soon to be followed by Chris with her label Minimum and Cynthia Jones-Bryson, who has just won the coveted Crown Oakes Day Invitation Only Myer Millinery Award for her headpiece inspired by fireworks.
“CARDIF will become a centre of excellence and support fashion designers to grow and develop,” says Chris. “The idea is to provide affordable, long-term creative and retail space for designers, both established and emerging, who have a desire to make their brand commercially accessible and who want to connect direct with customers.”
Workspaces range in size from approximately 10 m2 up to 28 m2. Design studios can be rented by one designer or shared. A second call for applications will take place early in 2016 (designers can express interest at any time by email).