Gorman – Sustainable Clothing & Fashion Label

Whimsical Fashion Since 1999

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Introduction to the Gorman Fashion Label

After graduating high school, Lisa Gorman went on to study nursing, working at the Royal Melbourne Hospital for 8 years after graduating. Lisa always felt that she belonged in the fashion industry and she eventually took the leap in 1995, applying for a retail/visual merchandiser position at bridal couturier, Mariana Hardwick in Melbourne. Within a few years she was designing for the bridal label, which led to Lisa launching her label, Gorman, at fledgling boutique Fat52 in Fitzroy, Melbourne, with a collection titled ‘Less Than 12 Degrees’.

Despite the fact that her first collection was an instant success, she still carried on nursing saying that ‘I liked nursing – it kept me in balance’. The Gorman womenswear label became a fully fledged brand in 2003, when Lisa stopped nursing and left her design job at Marina Hardwick. With six collections already under her belt, Lisa was already equipped with the skills to make Gorman a success. Despite a few hiccups after the initial launch of ‘Gorman Organic’ in 2007, the Gorman fashion label (including the organic range) has gone from strength to strength, becoming one of Australia’s most iconic fashion labels.

As of 2012 the Gorman fashion label had eight standalone stores throughout Australia, as well as being stocked in David Jones department stores across Australia and through a highly successful e-commerce store.

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Gorman Fashion Label: Key Dates

  • 1995: Lisa Gorman starts her career in fashion with a position at bridal couturier, Mariana Hardwick in Melbourne.
  • 1999: Lisa Gorman launches her eponymous label, Gorman, at fledgling Melbourne boutique Fat52.
  • 2003: Lisa leaves her nursing and Marina Hardwick design jobs to focus her full attention on her fashion label.
  • 2004: The first Gorman boutique opens on Melbourne’s Chapel Street and additionally the brand begins selling their collections through Myer department stores.
  • 2007: ‘Gorman Organic’ is launched, in response to increasing environmental awareness and offering a sustainable fashion choice without compromising quality design and production.
  • 2008: The Gorman fashion label stops selling in Myer stores, switching to rival department store, David Jones, for their ‘better understanding and offering of Australian designers’.
  • 2009: Lisa Gorman sells a percentage of the Gorman fashion label to Factory X – the company behind fellow brands Alannah Hill, Jack London and Dangerfield.
  • 2011: The Gorman fashion label opens its first Adelaide boutique in the former Mimco space on Rundle Street next to fellow Australian fashion giants, SABA, Morrissey and Sass & Bide.

Fashion Designer Lisa Gorman

Fashion Designer Lisa Gorman

The Gorman Fashion Label Aesthetic

Lisa Gorman is known for her feminine, playful and colourful collections that are always wearable, while remaining up-to-date with the latest trends and fashions. Easily recognisable for their all-round quality – Gorman’s collections are identifiable by their directional knitwear, distinctive colour palettes and whimsical signature prints. The Gorman collections are thoroughly contemporary and inspired by the everyday, particularly the culture of Lisa’s local Fitzroy.

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Lisa Gorman: The Queen of Green

In 2007, Lisa introduced ‘Gorman Organic’ to her product range in response to increasing environmental awareness. The aim was to produce affordable sustainable fashion that didn’t compromise on design or quality, made possible through innovations in fabric production. All garments in the Gorman Organic range are either certified organic, meaning that the materials used to create the garments are organically farmed and produced without pesticides; or the garments are sustainable, which means that the materials may not be specifically organic, but come from sustainable farming, non-chemical processing and/or closed loop production means.

However, the organics range almost failed before it even got off the ground. Lisa didn’t take into account the difference between buying organic food and buying organic clothing. As Lisa puts it “The benefit of using organic cotton was purely for the earth, so it wasn’t as direct as a personal interest, so people weren’t prepared to pay 30% more for something”. Despite the Gorman Organic range making no money in the first few years, Lisa must be proud she decided to stick with the line. As of 2011, the Gorman Organic collection accounted for 20% of the entire product line, with plans to further expand the range with each coming season.

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Lisa Gorman is undoubtedly the ‘Queen of Green’ implementing a number of measures and initiatives to reduce the burden her label has on the planet as much as possible. These include:-

  • Packaging has been reduced by 90% and the brand now used recyclable packaging materials, such as LDPE, when required.
  • As well as using energy-efficient lighting and extensive recycling practices, Gorman also uses 100% accredited green power.
  • The brand has hires an environmental consultant to work with the label, in both Australia and in its overseas manufacturing facilities to reduce the label’s environmental impact.
  • Gorman is a strong promoter of pedal power and as well as creating one-off Gorman bicycles annually, the brand is known to give discounts to customers who ride their bikes to the store.
  • The brand’s shopping bags are made from 100 per cent recycled paper and if a customer refuses one, the bag’s value is donated to Friends of the Earth.
  • A donation of $5 from every green and serene T-shirt sold also goes to the Friends of the Earth organisation.

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Future of the Gorman Fashion Label

In little over a decade, Lisa Gorman has seen her womenswear label into an iconic Australian institution with a staff of over 140 people. So despite the initial hiccups that followed the launch of ‘Gorman Organic’, Lisa must be delighted she stuck with it, as Gorman seems set to be one of the world’s leading green fashion labels.

Visit the official Gorman website, here.

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