Not your run of the MIL approach to sustainable fashion retail

BY Zoe Thompson
14 November 2018

A key challenge retailers are facing in the industry today, is a misrepresentation of the brands message and values. With global and digital competitors entering the market, retailers are being challenged to differentiate themselves within the industry to retain their competitive edge.

One retailer who recognises the importance of retaining a point of difference in the ever-changing retail space is Camille Reed, Founder of Australian Circular Fashion, Australasian Circular Textile Association (ACTA). Camille is shifting the retail landscape, sharing a story with customers to create a personalised experience and designing a path for other retailers to follow suit.

Camille Reed_Sustainability

As a sustainable fashion strategist, Camille also understands how imperative customer experience is in today’s thriving retail industry.

“Retail is fundamentally about providing the customer with a memorable service and experience,” Camille said.

“Often customers are in your store with an intention to purchase, so it is important to think about what your point of difference is and the messages you’re sending.”

Beginning her fashion career at 21 years old, Camille decided to explore the industry setting her sights on New York, a city overflowing with high fashion and captivating window displays.

“Experiencing New York for the first time reinforced my passion for retail, and I knew I needed to work in the fashion industry,” Camille said.

“I naturally fell in love with the retail stores in New York showcasing beautiful fashion and stunning designs.”

Stimulating Camille’s passion for the industry, New York also and inspired her to undertake her first job opportunity with Voyager Distributing Co in Carlton, Melbourne when she returned home.

“I learned a great deal in my 20s as I worked in various roles across numerous organisations,” Camille said.

“In design, I learned to appreciate the meaning behind each garment’s story and how visual merchandising is crafted to reflect the ideas created by the design team.”

Over the past decade, Camille has developed an exemplary repertoire working as a creative textile designer for some of the largest women’s fashion conglomerates in Australia, with designs featured across various iconic brands including Marcs, Sheike and Forever New just to name a few.

“Working with Forever New was the greatest full-time role I’ve held to date,” Camille said.

“The opportunity to provide creative inspiration to the design team was extremely rewarding.”

Camille believes that the future of the retail industry relies on the retailer’s ability to align the brand’s messages to their consumer values.

“A great deal of insight can be learnt about human behaviour and also builds intuition on how retailers can personally communicate their brand’s message accurately.” Camille said.

“It’s crucial for retailers to connect with their consumers through their brand messaging and underlying values”

Camille’s love for fashion and textiles stems from seeing her creations come to life and featured in retail outlets. Experiencing the end result of your designs in-store and seeing the embroidery on your garments is always exciting.

After years of being involved in the textiles trade, underlying negative impacts on the environment began to seep through the glamour and splendour exuded by industry. This realisation acted as a catalyst for a career change, launching Camille on the precipice of an entrepreneurial journey.

“For as long as I can remember I wanted to run my own business, work for myself and create an opportunity which evoked meaning for a greater good,” Camille said.

“Through dedication and perseverance, I discovered that I can network, run an industry event and position myself as a leader within the retail industry.”

Camille set her sights on embedding a sustainable ethos throughout the design and production process by launching Studio BY MILI, a business that boasted colourful, feminine designs using recycled fabrics.

“Studio BY MILI’s message offered value to clients who wished to engage with target markets more closely,” Camille said.

Camille said the entrepreneurial path has been an exciting learning curve, encouraging her to take risks and seek advice from professionals in the industry to lessen the workload.

“The journey into self-employment and becoming an entrepreneur has been interesting and a massive growth phase. There have been a number of outgoing commitments which I would not have taken on board several years ago,” Camille said.

“I’ve learned asking for help and seeking advice from other professionals in the industry can really assist you in driving change.”

To succeed in the retail market, Camille focuses on ensuring her core values are reflected in her brand, focusing on establishing variance in the retail sphere to retain a point of difference.

“The vision for Studio BY MILI evolved into a greater opportunity to truly stand out within a competitive market and share a clear message of purpose backed by sustainable visions,” Camille said.

Further to Camille’s achievements, she has also established The Australian Circular Fashion Conference -a social movement providing fashion retailers with the opportunity to support the progressive change in sustainable practices.

“The first step in creating industry change is getting retail leaders onboard with responsible and sustainable practices, as they have the power to dictate how the industry should look,” Camille said.

“Due diligence, networking and treating people as you’d like to be treated is invaluable advice. If you want to be a shining light that stands out, nail these points.”

With the sustainable fashion conference pushing the industry forward, Camille is a sustainable pioneer, triumphing the circular economy and shaping the local fashion market to be stronger than ever.

To learn more about Camille and her passion for sustainable fashion, visit www.australiancircularfashion.com.au

The Australian Retailers Association's (ARA) Women in Retail Series celebrates the extraordinary achievements of female retail leaders in the industry by sharing stories behind their success. This collection of anecdotes look to build confidence in females working across the sector, inspiring them to achieve their personal and professional goals. For more inspiring stories on Women in Retail, please visit  info.retail.org.au/womeninretail

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zoe Thompson

Zoe is the Marketing and Communications Officer for the Australian Retailers Association

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