Sarah Pretorius is the 25 year old founder of sustainable swim and activewear label Carlyle the label. Sarah studied a bachelor of fine arts fashion at QUT in Brisbane and has gone on to successfully juggle running her label and working full time in the fashion industry.

When did you discover your love for fashion?

My interest in fashion has been with me from an early age but I really developed a love for it as a teenager when I began altering my grandmother’s old dresses, which turned into weekends and holidays that were spent op shopping for the perfect upcycle projects. I knew by my early teens that I wanted to study fashion at university and go from there, and that’s just what I did!

What inspired you to start Carlyle the Label?

As much as I was advised otherwise, I always wanted to start my own label. When I started at uni, I had no interest in swimwear whatsoever, but then about halfway through my degree, I did a stretchwear unit. During this unit, I was going through a fitspo stage and I decided to go against the grain and design an activewear range instead of a swimwear range. Activewear was in its early up-and-coming stage where most of the big fashion brands hadn’t adopted it yet, so there was still a bit of a gap in the market. I did an activewear graduation collection and made plans to start my own activewear label. A couple of years out of uni, I was designing my first activewear range for Carlyle the label, knowing that I wanted to incorporate a little active-inspired swimwear. It turns out I couldn’t stop designing swimwear and somehow my activewear collection turned into a swimwear collection with a hint of activewear in there. The swimwear has definitely sold better and my new collection (coming soon) is purely swimwear based.

What advice do you have for young people who are thinking of a career in fashion but don’t know where to start?

The fashion industry is so broad and there are so many different careers that you can have within it. With so many internship opportunities out there, I say go for it and start trying it out and to see which areas of the industry you like. Not every internship has your best interests at heart, though, so try and look for a internship that is going to benefit you and not only the other way around. If you’re considering a career in fashion design, I highly recommend photographing all of your projects so that when it comes time to apply for jobs, you already have content for your portfolio.

Can you tell us a bit about your label’s ethos, including your approach to sustainability?

Sustainability is an integral part of Carlyle the Label. I think that as a designer you have a responsibility to be sustainable with your resources. My new collection is made locally and ethically in Brisbane from 100% regenerated nylon and polyester that turns a waste problem into a fashion solution. In addition to being completely recycled, the fabric has a considerably longer life expectancy than the average swimwear fabric, meaning it can last for a long time in your sustainable wardrobe, instead of being replaced every couple of seasons. I reinforce the longevity of the swimwear through timeless and classical designs. My previous collection that I still have some pieces for sale from, was made ethically in Brazil from predominantly 100% biodegradable and recyclable polyamide. This fabric was fantastic as it was made to last for the wearer but once disposed of in landfill, biodegrades within 3 years. While I am still a huge fan of the biodegradable fabric, it isn’t accessible for me here in Australia, but I’m super excited about my new recycled yarns. Also, about half of my new collection is reversible which means you get two looks from only one piece meaning you can buy less and wear more, and every purchase comes in a little reusable Carlyle the Label branded drawstring bag, perfect your carting your swimwear around for those impromptu beach trips. I love having a label where I can proudly be transparent about my supply chain and I do my best to reflect these ethics in my personal lifestyle.

What was it like starting out in the fashion industry so young? Do you ever have people underestimate you or have you found a lot of support?

I find that rather than underestimating me, there are definitely a lot of people who underestimate the industry. I feel like people think that being a designer is drawing pretty pictures all day, and although that would be amazing that’s certainly not the case.

What do you wish you knew when you started that you know now?

I wish I knew not to rush the development process just so that I could launch quicker. At the end of the day, it’s your product that you’re relying on to keep you in business and I think it’s so important to be 100% confident in your product before releasing it to the market.

Who or what inspires you and how do you stay inspired?

Ironically for a coastal swimwear label, I find myself mostly inspired and energised by big cities, hustle and bustle, and buzzing atmospheres. Then there’s the everyday – people, music and the odd enviable instagram feed that captures the lifestyle I dream about! In terms of keeping myself inspired, the sheer goal to one day have my own brand as my full time venture, and the day dreams that come with that of what that looks like, is enough to keep me inspired!

What’s your opinion on the Sunshine Coast fashion industry?

I like that it’s growing and that more and more creatives are popping out with new brands and collections. What a beautiful place to live in and be inspired by. Sarah Pretorius black swim]]>