The Augustine and Charlo labels have been injecting colour into Kiwi fashion for more than a decade. With Augustine currently showing at New Zealand Fashion Week, Metropol talks to Founder Kelly Coe about how colour makes the world a happier place.
How did the Augustine story begin?
Augustine began like all good stories, in our garage. It came from seeing a gap in the market for special occasion wear for everyday NZ women, at attainable price points and grew from there. It was a hope and a dream that we knew NZ fashion needed but didn’t know it yet haha. Nathan and I started it from an idea and slogged it out until NZ women noticed, started to follow along with us and joined the colour revolution.
You would be one of the most followed New Zealand fashion labels on social media. Why do you think people have connected so strongly with what you do?
I think because I was the first person to put myself out there personally and really put a face to my brand. I didn’t get a marketing assistant to do all my posts for me or hand it over to a social marketing company, I didn’t heavily stylise my photos, I just showed myself with my kids at the park wearing my product, or Nathan and I out for dinner wearing Augustine. I recognised that my customers are from all over NZ and are just everyday Kiwis and mums and they want to be included and part of something. Country Road, Witchery etc are faceless to them; they don’t belong to that team, but I have always wanted Augustine to be a team/family that you can all be apart of and feel that you can relate to my life. And if they thought I was too dressed up at school pick up then maybe it inspires them to wear their best clothes daily rather than save them for a special occasion. My followers feel like they know me and often stop and tell me that they feel like my friend. I love that – I would love to have 160,000 friends haha.
Your collections are filled with colour, something that at face value people might not think would necessarily strike a sartorial chord with New Zealanders. Why did you think this would be such a success?
At first I didn’t know if it would be, I just hoped it would. My first collection was sooo colourful that most of the stockists I showed it to didn’t get it and didn’t buy it. It has taken years to push through the barriers of black and white dressing in NZ, but we are getting there. I see so much more colour now than I did 10 years ago and that makes me very happy. Colour makes the world a happier place.
You’re showing at NZ Fashion Week (August 27 to September 2), what are you looking forward to at this year’s event?
We sold out our show in a day, so I am most excited to put on a cool show for the 700 ladies that snapped up tickets so quickly. I always feel pressure to thank them for supporting me by making sure it’s a feast for the eyes and a fun amazing show. I love that the crowd that turns up to my show are so colourful and polar opposite to who watches the shows during the week of fashion week. It’s like a rainbow hits the waiting area at fashion week right before our show; you know it’s time for Augustine to hit the catwalk by the sea of colour waiting outside. That makes me so very proud and happy of how far we have come with the colour debate.
Can you give us the low down on some of your upcoming collections?
We are heading into summer so it’s a rainbow of colour coming which is how I like it. Lots of maxi dresses, sequin skirts, floral prints, and of course a new kimono every week. I love summer. We also have the most amazing colourful wedges coming out in our shoe range that I can’t wait to have in every colour, especially the fluro yellow ones.