After a successful decade at the helm Lack Of Color, a brand that gave hats a fresher, younger appeal, Australian creative couple Tess Corvaia and Rob Tilbury are venturing into a new, exciting project: I Dream For You. Their new brand, inspired by the feeling of finding timeless treasures in vintage stores, offers high-end yet simple apparel to give your look an effortless cool flare while remaining sustainable and responsible. Today, they release their second drop, which spans silk shirts, organic cotton sweaters and t-shirts, as well as shorts, skirts and dresses. We meet Tess and Rob to discuss ethics in fashion, their experience in the industry, and their new launch.
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Tess, Rob, let’s get to know you a little bit first. You’ve been together for several years, both in a romantic relationship and a professional one. How do you balance pleasure with work? Is it difficult to separate your personal lives from your professional careers?
I think it was difficult at the start of our journey with Lack Of Color because we were involved in every single aspect of the business. Now we’ve grown exponentially, we’ve been able to build up our team. We’re still involved in every facet of the business, but we share a true passion for each other and what we do. We love what we do and that we get to do it together. I think our working styles and talents complement each other’s and we bounce off that energy to continue to be the creative force driving Lack of Color and I Dream For You.
Back in 2011, you founded Lack of Color, a brand that gave hats a fresher, younger look, and that has been extremely successful. That was your first venture into fashion as a young, entrepreneur couple. What have you learnt from that experience that you can apply to I Dream For You? How would you say these previous years will help you in the future of your new project?
We’ve learnt so much. I think you learn the most valuable lessons through experience – through your mistakes and your triumphs –, and you need to go through that in order to learn the most valuable lessons in business. It can’t be taught or learnt, it has to be experienced first hand. In ways, we’ve been able to ‘shortcut’ some aspects of I Dream For You (as opposed to if we were just starting from scratch). We’ve been able to leverage our contacts in the industry – people we’ve built relationships with over the years – and the lessons we’ve learnt to look at I Dream For You with a fresh, fearless attitude and perspective.
It only seems like a logical next step to start working on apparel after having focused on hats for so long. But what made you take this step?
We’ve always wanted to do clothing, but given it’s such a saturated market, we wanted to wait for the right time – for the right vision and aspects of building the brand to come together at the right time. Notions that we feel are important and vital to its success. Being able to find the perfect people to partner with to give us the range of products we want but have them made in a way that is sustainable is the right/only way brands should be moving forward past 2020. I feel we know more now, so we all need to try to be and do better in terms of the impact we have on this planet. Great design should not come at the expense of mother Earth.
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The name is very romantic. Is it an ode to love and dreamers around the world? What does it mean to you personally?
Yeah. We see the brand name as having multiple meanings, but we also love that people can interpret it however they want – in a way that means something to them. We generally just buy used vintage clothing because it has that feel and tells a story about a time maybe slightly forgotten or just out of mind. I Dream For You is just that. It’s ‘us’ creating and dreaming up individual pieces that can hopefully remain timeless for you guys and girls. It’s also a romantic gesture towards creating both men’s and women’s pieces – for you to dream of each other. You, we, I Dream For You.
Ethics play a very important role in Lack of Color – all the wool is Australian (so helping local families and farmers), you work with groups of artisans worldwide, the straw and palm are sustainably sourced, your headquarters run on solar power, etc. How will you translate these ethical values into I Dream For You? What are some of the actions you’re taking to make it sustainable?
I Dream For You is run out of the same headquarters here in Australia. Before starting the brand, we wanted to ensure the garments we were producing were done so in an ethical and sustainable manner. It wasn’t an option for us to deter from this plan. So this was at the core of what we were trying to achieve when we were in the development stage.
The I Dream For You collection pairs recycled fibres and organic cotton with thoughtful, quality-made designs. Each item in this collection has been crafted with passion and purpose to produce treasured wardrobe staples just for you. Sustainability is at the core of what we do as a brand. We use organic cotton, Tencel, sustainably-grown blue-sign eco silk that is produced around regenerative agriculture practices. We use recycled materials like recycled polyester. Sustainable denim that uses 1/3 of the amount of water than regular denim production does, plus, we recycle all our water so no water is polluted in our process.
We’ve done our best to ensure this brand follows a sustainable process. From how we source our fabrics to the moment you hold your finished piece for the very first time, each garment has been crafted to create as little impact on the environment as possible. Our end goal is the create dreamy pieces for you while having a positive impact on the future of sustainability.
I Dream For You isn’t about releasing a lot of clothes and new collections every month but rather create “individual pieces that can hopefully remain kinda timeless,” as you explain, such as “that one perfect pair of thrash-able jeans. That silk shirt that fits and shines just right. That dress you can always rely on whether it’s for work or for a wild night out.” So I guess you’re sort of strict when designing, producing and launching each piece. Could you elaborate more on this process?
Our first range was based around pieces we wish you could buy but couldn’t. Now we are growing and looking towards our future releases, we are looking to incorporate more timeless designs across our offering. We look to vintage for inspiration but also look to the functional needs of clothing today in this modern world. Our brand ideology is definitely about quality over quantity and we feel our designs reflect this in the way that they are more timeless than seasonal.
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For your latest release, you’ve collaborated with renowned Australian photographer Brydie Mack, whose otherworldly work takes us to the most paradisiac sunsets and beaches around the world. What is it about her images that you felt fit with your brand’s style?
Brydie is one of our best friends. Someone that we’ve met through Lack Of Color/the industry that we’ve remained really close with. You know when you meet someone and you just ‘get’ each other? That’s us.
I think the way she works is so effortlessly beautiful – capturing a moment in time with ease. Her photos are never forced and you see this come across in her final images. I also think being a woman, she understands the person on the other side of the camera like no other and people feel extremely comfortable when shooting with her bubbly and vibrant personality. It’s contagious. I think who she is as a person means she’s able to achieve an effortlessly beautiful and genuine result. When we work on a project together it’s like we’re just one big happy creatively blessed family. We love how this shoot took it back to understated, ‘90s cool.
You say you’re both vintage lovers and source most of your clothes and accessories on thrift stores and second-hand shops and markets. The clothes of I Dream For You actually feel very 1970s and 1980s-inspired. What is it about vintage pieces that appeals to you? Any favourite piece, or one with a remarkable story?
That’s a tough question to answer – it all depends on the item I guess. I really like the idea that used or vintage clothing is almost a time capsule to a previous time. Tells a story, has a feeling.
At a time when the planet is asking us to slow down, especially the unsustainable fast pace of the fashion industry, why do you think this is a good moment to launch yet another brand? What does I Dream For You offer that others don’t?
Every brand has its own ideology and goals. We are doing our thing and really hope fashion brands and the industry will start to put sustainability at the forefront of what they do – not just afterthought. To have thoughtful designs and pieces designed for function. This is just the start of this journey. Check back soon.
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