February 20, 2019
Style Edit: Back to Basics
Lisa Chedanne of Sunshine Coast and Bali based fashion label Lilya, is taking her brand back to where it all began and finding herself in the process.
It’s difficult to produce anything for a wide demographic, particularly fashion. But Sunshine Coast brand Lilya manages to create clothing that transcends age groups and tastes and is as suitable for a 50-something female dining with friends as it is for a 20-year-old relaxing at the beach.
When Lisa Chedanne began Lilya more than 11 years ago, she was living in Bondi, Sydney and working as a wholesaler. She noticed a gap in the market for relaxed clothes that could cater to a wide audience.
“I was always working in the fashion industry from shops to wholesale to buying. When I started doing wholesale I was telling designers what the people wanted but I didn’t feel like they were listening to me,” says Lisa.
Thus, Lisa took it into her own hands to create a fashion label that would be suitable for a range of age groups and make women feel equally confident and comfortable as they go about their day.
“My vision was to create clothes that were accessible and wearable for everybody,” she says.
Almost 12 years on and Lisa is still producing stunning collections for women young and old in relaxed silhouettes, beautiful fabrics and feminine cuts. Lilya is the perfect mix of sophistication and comfort thanks to the ongoing inspiration of music, travel and nature. This isn’t a label that produces party dresses, instead it has a defined aesthetic that is casual, earthy and timeless, much like Lisa herself.
“I’m not a fancy person. I love beautiful things and aesthetics, but I’d rather have a nice conversation than talk about something that’s not important,” she says.
The move from Bondi was inspired by Lisa’s yearning for a simpler lifestyle. While she loved living in Bondi when she was younger, her family was on the Sunshine Coast and she wanted to buy a house and slow down.
The refreshingly candid Lisa admits the older she got, clothes became less important than family and she wanted her life to reflect her relaxed fashion label; it was a perfect case of life imitating art.
“I’m a true fashion person, I love clothes, but I don’t think they’re the world’s most important thing. I think family and health is more important.”
While Lisa continued to create beautiful, nonchalant clothing from her new relaxed home on the Sunshine Coast, she was also trying to manage a label that had grown to more than 130 stores internationally in a turbulent industry experiencing exponential change.
The fashion industry has always been a changing one; trends come and go, designers have their 15 minutes in the spotlight and move on. But, the fashion world has experienced a massive shift in the last several years thanks to the rise of social media, particularly Instagram.
Lilya launched three years before Instagram even existed and after the introduction of the social platform, Lisa had to adapt to the industry she once knew and loved.
Where models and designers were once the faces of fashion, Instagram Influencers took their place, seasons blurred as the introduction of online retail meant you could sell summer ranges to a northern hemisphere while in the middle of an Australian winter, and even now you can purchase clothes at the click of a button through Instagram.
Of course this change has been exciting and innovative for customers and business-owners alike, but it’s also a massive shift for a label that’s had huge success in the more traditional methods of business.
“The first nine years were easy and my experience helped me do it, but in the last two to three years, all aspects of fashion has changed,” says Lisa.
She got to the point where she was creating six collections a year to keep up with the market. She admits that the changes have been hard to adapt to even for an openminded businesswoman like herself.
“To have a fashion label is one of the hardest financial things you’ll ever do. It’s risky, it requires a lot of money up front, it’s a big commitment and it’s stressful,” she says.
Although Lisa loves her work, she found she had to bring things back to basics and rediscover why she started Lilya in the first place.
“I actually want to bring it back where I really nourish myself with this and I enjoy it and it’s a healthy lifestyle because it’s a hard thing to do. You’re constantly working and you’re on a rat race to make the next samples for the next collections and you’re selling and you’re looking at budgets and your costings and you never stop,” she says.
“I’m in a process of finding my own feet to be exactly who I am and not trying to be what other people want me to be. So I’m actually in a really big process of assessing who I am and what my brand is as well, which is exciting.”
For now, Lisa is taking things as they come and ‘leaving her doors open,’ but she hopes to simplify her life so it’s as uncomplicated as her beautiful clothes. With her new homewares store in Bali called Cove Island Essentials, Lisa says she may even move into the lifestyle realm while building even closer relationships with her favourite boutiques that LILYA is stocked in. For now she’s excited to launch her new Autumn/Winter collection called Golden and continue to move between her two homes, Bali and the Sunshine Coast.
LILYA is available in Alterior Motif, Cotton Tree and Noosa, and also ilovelilya.com