Best in Category - Fashion Design 2022

Replica Project (Project #3)

Amanda Nichols for Replica Project

Replica Project is a micro-enterprise exploring the ‘replica’ as a design methodology within the shared territory of fashion and costume.

Established by Amanda Nichols in 2018, Replica Project is a micro fashion enterprise exploring the ‘replica’ as a design methodology within the shared territory of fashion and costume. Drawing on Nichols’ experience in haute couture workrooms and film costume studios, the project uses subversive reproduction of archival forms to comment on mechanisms of contemporary fast and luxury fashion. Collections combine classic tailoring, couture construction techniques and everyday archetypes in a wardrobe of well-planned ensembles that rely on colour, shape and endless combinations.

Design Brief:

The ethos of Replica Project is to maintain a sustainable business model offering annual capsule wardrobes with each garment designed to be worn together and each project worn with the previous. Amanda Nichols is the founder, with a fifteen-year career in costume for film as well experience in haute couture in Paris, her intention is to produce quality garments that tell a story using her specialised skills and experience to re-engage thoughtful dressing.

Sustainability is a key component to the practice through the sourcing of raw materials and production of the garments, accompanied by the transferral of knowledge and skills through working with emerging fashion practitioners in the design and making process. Replica Project produces a limited quantity of garments available for sale through a pre-order wholesale and trunk show strategy so as not to contribute to excess and waste within the market.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

Each capsule wardrobe starts by analysing an archival garment or ensemble. Replica Project #3 investigated a homemade wool crepe afternoon dress from the late 1920s held in the private archive of a Sydney based fashion collector.

The garment was reminiscent of some of the early work of Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel. In referencing the afternoon dress alongside the early work of Chanel, the intention of this project was to produce a capsule wardrobe developing a relaxed silhouette appropriate for contemporary audiences and timeless archetypes with endless combinations for dressing. Materials, techniques, and design details found within the afternoon dress were explored and replicated through an initial swatching and prototyping processes, developing multiple iterations that were strategically expanded upon to build the capsule wardrobe.

The garments are constructed in our South Yarra studio using the best quality textiles we can source locally, with the majority of these from international fashion companies deeming them deadstock. Using Amanda's specialised skills acquired through her costume career and experience in haute couture the collection is produced, applying a combination of traditional hand techniques juxtaposed with commercial production processes and finished with custom fastenings. The garments are high quality and beautifully hand-finished embodying a sense of history and relaxed luxury alongside a consciousness for social and environmental impact.

Design Excellence

Replica Project is conscious of the criteria for good design in producing our capsule collections, we want to make a positive impact within our industry through the following:

Our purpose is to offer high quality capsule collections designed to be worn together in many combinations and each project worn with the previous, encouraging our audience to purchase less. The production of our clothing is unique in the marketplace. The technical skills and knowledge Amanda brings from her career in film and experience in haute couture in Paris contribute to creating high quality, luxurious garments embedded with historical references and storytelling.

The problems we face in fashion include waste and overconsumption. Replica Project’s business model offers pre-order wholesale and business to consumer e-commerce sales as well as trunk show pre-order sales. This means garments are made once there is a paid order and the garments have a home to go to. We work in this way as a means of reducing waste and consumption. Offering alterations, repair and custom order strengthens our commitment to these problems.

Design Aesthetic: Our design methodology referencing archival garments and historical fashion offers a unique aesthetic point of view. Thoughtful care of our audience/customer is taken into consideration when selecting the garments / ensembles to reference for the projects. Consideration of these archival garments and historical references and their potential to be translated to a commercial contemporary context is important from a commercial viability perspective.

Industry engagement: Replica Project, whilst a slow growing micro-enterprise is involved in much industry engagement through working relationships with our suppliers and creative collaborators as well as participation in fashion presentations, an NGV exhibition highlighting emerging Australian talent, PR collateral with multiple Australian fashion publications including Vogue & Oyster magazines and recognition of excellence receiving multiple awards including The Australian Fashion Foundation Award.

Design Innovation

Replica Project #3 is the first commercially available collection since winning the Australian Fashion week NEXTGEN award. Once we made the decision to make the practice a commercial enterprise, we set out to establish a point of view and offering to differentiate Replica Project from other commercial fashion practices. We developed the system of capsule collections of garments worn in a multitude of combinations and with future

The intention is to make a valuable contribution to the reduction of waste and consumption within fashion and through producing our garments using a combination of traditional hand techniques and commercial processes we hope to educate our audiences about how our clothing is made and its value.

Design Impact

Replica Project currently makes a positive impact commercially, socially, and environmentally within the Victorian community and has the potential to grow this moving forward. We manufacture locally from our South Yarra studio with a small team of contractors and our knitwear is made locally in Victoria.

We work with Melbourne-based suppliers to source our raw materials. We work with Melbourne-based pattern cutters and grading services. We collaborate with Melbourne-based creatives to deliver all imagery associated with each project. This includes photographers and studio spaces, stylists, models, hair, and make-up artists. We collaborate with Melbourne-based creatives for brand and marketing collateral from design and copywriting through to physical publications and products including look books, packaging and stationery supplies.

We have engaged a Melbourne based artist to develop a motif for a textile print for project #4 and plan to continue working with local artists in this way. Working with these Victorian based freelance practitioners means highlighting the skills of each Victorian based practitioner as well as re-investing finances within the Victorian community. We are currently planning to move our studio to retail premises in 2023 to grow our audience and re-energise a creative precinct within the City of Port Phillip.

This space will engage new and existing audiences in aspects of our design practice from making, altering, and repairing clothing as well as offering a custom order design and making process. These offerings alongside our pre-order system mean our environmental footprint is minimal, as we do not make anything that does not have a home. Within this space we will communicate the methodology of the design practice through pre-order trunk shows and salon presentations, engaging local performers Amanda has previously collaborated with through her film & theatre career to help tell the story of each capsule project.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

Circular design and sustainable features:

  • Sourcing raw materials from fashion companies deeming the textiles as dead stock.
  • Environmentally responsible materials are used for our packaging and any marketing collateral.
  • Replica Project offers garment alterations and repair services for our garments.
  • Replica Project offers custom order design consults for clients who don't fit within the standard sizes we offer.
  • The capsules are developed slowly and on a small scale and are designed in a way to reduce fashion consumption through offering these small collections that speak to each other through the dressing process.
  • Fostering emerging fashion practitioners by sharing technical skills and knowledge through the design and making process, keeping these skills alive and strengthening creative community and practice.
  • Working collaboratively with Victorian based creative practitioners and contributing to the strengthening of each other’s skills and knowledge base.

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