Discover Greek Style Council, the venture bringing premium Greek fashion designers to Australia
Whenever I post about Greek fashion designers, I’m inevitably bombarded by texts from friends in the U.S. text asking how they can find their stuff. It happens every time. Luckily, Australian residents won’t have to wait any longer for access to some of these designers, as the Greek Style Council launched its site TODAY after hosting pop-up shops.
As we’ve written before, Greece may not the high-end fashion on par with the likes of London or New York, but the country has is home to many mid-priced brands that produce high-quality wearable items. Greek fashion designers have a tendency to produce on a smaller scale, taking a slower fashion approach. The venture aims to put this craftsmanship on the map in Australia, which has one of the largest populations of Greek expats in the world. In fact, Melbourne the largest Greek population of any city in the World outside Greece. Despite this heavy concentration of Hellenism, founder Helen Tirekidis found that many weren’t aware of the influx of Greek designers who’ve sprung up since they (or their yiayiathes and papouthes…) immigrated to the country.
We spoke with Greek Style Council founder Helen Tirekidis, a Greek-Australian whose impressive pedigree includes senior roles in wholesale, marketing, and PR at international luxury brands such as Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Longchamp, and Giorgio Armani. Like many raised Greek outside of Greece, aspects of the culture bled into much of her upbringing. Think weekly Greek school, dancing classes, cultural events, language, catching Greek films, etc. “Growing up I always was reminded of my heritage,” she explains.
Greek Style Council has rounded up an incredible selection of brands, including Sophie Deloudi, Salty Bag, Olimpo, and many more. Read on for our exclusive interview with Greek Style Council’s founder!
Do you feel people in Australia know much about Greek designers?
Not enough! This is partly why I began this project: to put the spotlight on Greek designers and begin working on building an awareness of them and their phenomenal work. To raise awareness here in Australia.
Have you noticed an increase in the availability of Greek products outside of Greece? If so, did that drive this, or was it more that you wanted to generate that interest yourself?
I wanted to shed light on the positive developments in Greece. Greece has always produced amazingly crafted products. It’s just that not many people in Australia (and many other nations in fact) are aware of it. So I made it my mission to build brand awareness of Greek design and showcase this in Australia. I also found that since the crisis, more and more talent is coming forward, including architects and interior designers who are now focusing their energies and talents on fashion accessories. This is great for Greece.
How do you select which designers to share with your market?
I chose them on the basis of 3 things: craftsmanship, international intent and their point of difference in design.
I’ve always felt that the items I purchase in Greece are better crafted – and better value – than accessories purchased in Asia.
What, in your opinion, sets Greek design apart?
Europeans have always had an eye for craftsmanship and well-made products. Products are made with he old fashioned mandate of creating something that will last. It’s interesting actually. Right now, we’re living in a digital world and with that, rapidly growing fast fashion stores. But it’s usually the bigger players like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, and ironically the ‘much smaller’ players, that concentrate on craftsmanship – not the fast fashion stores. (Editor’s aside: if you still shop at Zara or H & M, you may want to look into the ethics of their business. That’s all :)) A great number of Greek designers have known this for ages and pride themselves on producing quality.
I love that you’re doing both e-commerce and pop-ups. We live at a time when brick and mortar sales are down, yet people are also hungry for meaningful experiences. Tell me a bit about what people can expect from the pop-up experience.
The pop-up was designed to introduce Australian retailers and the fashion press to Greek brands. We’re living in a digital world now, so we need to bring these products to where the customers are – online! We have been overwhelmed by the response in Australia and people who are curious about these amazingly designed Greek brands. They want to know more… so we’re now slowly but surely bringing it to them via brick & mortars and now directly online.
We now have 7 Australian retail stores carrying Greek brands which is a small step in the right direction. Of course, we want ALL brands here now… but retail is not so easy and it takes time to build awareness and confidence in Greek brands unknown to the Australian retail landscape. Of course, I can’t carry all brands… but I will be finding and tailoring ways to help as many brands as I can.
Tell me more about the connection between Greece and Australia.
The ties between Australia and Greece lie very deep. Australia is home to the largest population of Greeks outside of the USA and Greece! Many immigrated in the early to mid 20th century to build businesses here and seek prosperity. At the last count, there are approximately close to 500,000 people of Greek descent living in Australia.
Want to discover more Greek fashion designers? Check out our interview with Ergon Mykonos.