Rags To Riches
Did you know that founder and designer Lisa Gorman started the brand with a measly eight-piece collection which she sold in a friend’s boutique? Lisa had just been to Tokyo, where she drew inspiration from the super-fashionable streets of Shibuya and Harajuku. She returned home with a notebook full of sketches, inspired to create something different.
Her first collection sold like hotcakes, and over time, Lisa was able to put up a little fashion studio which she managed herself in the first six months. Soon, her brand grew, and her pieces were being stocked in over 50 retailers. Gorman also launched collaborative collections with numerous artists, including the inimitable Camille Walala.
The Queen Of Green
But Gorman wasn’t just about doing things differently in terms of style. The brand released its organic label back in 2007 and has since advocated for sustainable fashion, making use of sustainable fabrics like recycled polyester and raw rattan linen. The Sydney Morning Herald once said that Lisa was “the woman responsible for making green fashion fashionable” and called her the ‘Queen of Green’.
Gorman remained successful through the years, thanks in part to a partial acquisition by retail giant Factory X, which helped the family business establish 40 boutiques across Australia. However, in 2016, controversy struck the brand – Baptist World Aid Australia released a fashion report which graded Factory X with an embarrassing F.
Troubled Times And Bouncing Back
Though Factory X was failed for “choosing not to be affiliated with the survey as it did not know Baptist’s real process”, as the Guardian notes, the reason didn’t matter. Gorman’s image was tainted by this decision and even dedicated Gormies were dropping the brand.
The brand has worked hard to make up for it in recent years, showing much more transparency with their processes and inspiring other companies to do the same. Gorman also recently collaborated with Indigenous artists from the Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency in a respectful way that received praise from the likes of Vogue. Proof that the hardy team behind this brand are dedicated to their cause and vision.
Now, let’s take a look at some shops like Gorman that are matching up to the brand’s visionary approach to fashion.
9 Stores Like Gorman
Obus and Gorman are similar in many ways. They’ve both been around for about 20 years now, they’re advocates for sustainable fashion, and their designs are characterised by big and bright prints. Obus has a lot of floral-printed and tropical-inspired pieces, and if you’re all about rocking the carefree, forever summer look, this one is a great choice.
Oh and don’t miss their Pink Friday sale where selected items are sold at 20 to 50 percent off!
Princess Highway calls itself Melbourne’s “most popular vintage-inspired label”. From the colours to the choice of prints to the cuts, Princess Highway’s pieces bring us back to best trends from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘90s while still retaining a very modern look. These aren’t your granny’s clothes. They’re better!
KarlaCola is a labour of love – beginning as a mum-to-be’s project for her newborn baby, the brand now makes eclectic, colourful pieces that are all handmade in South Australia. Their designs are a lot like Gorman, but the prints are even bolder and there is a lot of pink!
One more thing we love about this brand is its Ready To Ship collection – these are dresses that can be sent out the very next day. Perfect for last-minute parties!
Doops founder Jane Newham is an illustrator who hand-draws and screenprints her designs herself at home. The result? Beautiful prints that you won’t find just anywhere. And if you love Jane’s designs but want them in a different style, you can purchase screen printed fabrics by the metre from her website!
Dangerfield is actually older than Gorman by 10 years, so you could say they’re the real OGs of alternative fashion. Just like Gorman, their dresses and tops are pretty much drenched in colours and prints. However, just as its name implies, Dangerfield’s pieces are smidge edgier than Gorman’s, with an overall look that’s inspired by rock n’ roll, soft grunge, and even a bit of goth.
6. Mister Zimi
Mister Zimi’s style is described on its site as exuding “holiday relaxation in its 70s inspired designs”. And truly, with their flowy and feminine frocks, Mister Zimi’s pieces look like something straight out of the Mamma Mia films. Wear any Mister Zimi dress on holiday and you’ll stand out in all your photos!
Fair warning: this is not the place to get cheap, casual outfits. Romance Was Born is a contemporary Australian fashion house that creates fantastical, campy pieces loved by the likes of Cate Blanchett, Miley Cyrus, Tavi Gevinson, Nicki Minaj, Karen O, and Lily Allen. Vogue even called the brand “Australia’s most exciting brand”.
Finders Keepers’ aesthetic is relatively muted compared to Gorman and the other brands on this list, but the brand does pride itself in being fun, flirty, and flattering. Their classy pieces seem to be very much inspired by the glamour of the ‘70s.
In a little note at the bottom of Monki’s website, it says, “we’re tight-knit fashion lovers who believe in dressing how we want and loving who we want - while empowering each other (and ourselves)”. And really, that’s all you need to know about the brand. Monki is a brand that millennials and gen-z kids will love – their products range from vintage-inspired skirts and pants to tongue-in-cheek bodysuits printed with hands. Meanwhile, their Insta page is filled with body-positive images.