The former marketer who designs clothes for corporate women

As someone who’d already had a successful corporate career, Nicholas was keen to create clothes that reflected the lifestyle of working women – pieces that looked good in the office but worked just as well after hours.

In her small but considered space on Little Collins Street, there is a thoughtful curation of clothing.

I learnt a lot about what women can wear, and how to encourage women to branch out.

— Lindsay Nicholas

“I’m designing for the former me,” she says. “When I worked in the corporate world I would be travelling 80 per cent of the time. When you’re travelling for business you want things that will work together, pack well, travel well.”

Lindsay Nicholas New York silk shirt dress in leopard print. Henry Trumble

As a result, she works exclusively with fabrics that resist wrinkling, such as silk-satin, crêpe de chine and recycled polyester. “You can roll them in a ball, put them in a suitcase, and they come out looking fabulous.”

Also, the clothes are “not fussy”, she says. “I have a rule against awkward buttons or zips. Everything has to function well. And everything that can have pockets, has pockets.”

When clients come into the store, Nicholas often styles them herself. “I learnt a lot about what women can wear, and how to encourage women to branch out,” she says. “I’m very aware of how to flatter a woman’s body.”

Four years after launch, Nicholas was accepted into the Australian Fashion Council’s Incubator Program, in 2019 and 2020. Her mentor there encouraged her to move her manufacturing to Melbourne.

It was the best business decision she ever made, she says.

“The timing couldn’t have been better. I found the most wonderful makers here. And when the pandemic hit, I didn’t have to worry about shipping or what was happening to my factory.”

The one downside to making in Australia is ironically, the lack of merino wool. “The majority of our wool is shipped to Japan and Italy,” she says. “So we struggle with that.”

From her adopted home, and with the vantage point of being an outsider, Nicholas can see the distinctions between Melburnian and New York women. “In New York, we would wear short suits to work,” she says. “But then, American women won’t wear our drop-crotch pant. I think Australian women are used to that style because Bassike has been doing it for so long.”

As for growth, Nicholas is keen to keep things slow and steady.

“My very first job after school was working in whole foods and I learnt from them that slow growth is a much more sustainable model,” she says. “Right now I’m able to spend time talking to customers, suggest pieces … all the things I love about the fashion business.”

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