Designer Interviews

Luke Sales
Co-founder of Romance Was Born

August 24, 2015

Describe your role.

Designer/owner of Romance Was Born.

What inspired you to establish Romance Was Born with co-founder, Anna Plunkett?

A mutual love of creativity, it was a very unconscious process starting the label, we went from doing school assignments together to showing at Australian fashion week in three years of knowing each other….it just happened because we were excited to be creative and making things together and that was enough for us. Everything else that followed was just a result of us being extremely passionate and seeing how far we could push it. We never sat down and wrote a buisness plan or even said “lets start a label”.

Prior to this what was your background?

High school…I graduated and moved to Sydney applied for uts and East Sydney TAFE and got into both. I always think if I had gone to uts I’d have never met Anna and probably not even be working in fashion…but that’s another story!

Tell us about yours and Anna’s differing roles and responsibilities?

Well I’ve always been terrible with computers so Anna is stuck with all the boring admin stuff and digital, but I think it panned out for the best as I’m still terrible! Everything else we do together.

Luke Sales Parlour X Designer Interview

Romance Was Born is renown for putting on a show and creating an emotional experience. What does the creative process involve?

It always starts with theme or a story we want to communicate about the collection, but there is also an overarching message about the brand we want to communicate. …This obviously then informs the design process, and really the collection and then the show just falls into place. We are definitely never short of an idea!

Tell us about your connection to art.

I’ve always had a huge love of the arts in all varieties from a very early age, I come from a creative household and my creativity was always very strongly encouraged by my mother. When Anna and I first met, Del Kathryn Barton had an exhibition on literally around the corner from Anna’s house, we went to see it together and when we left we starting talking about how well it would translate to fabric. This became our first collaboration with an artist, and since we collaborate with an artist on every collection we do. Again it was very unconscious and not a planned thing but now it is a really big part of our brand DNA.

There is an undertone of ‘Australiana’ prevalent in your collections, tell us why.

Again, it was never a planned thing or even a conscious decision. When Anna and I first met, I remember doing a cockatoo printed beaded dress for an Italian competition we had been selected for in Trieste. It wasn’t until we were in Italy, that we realised the strong Australian undercurrent. As time went by we talked about our mutual love of the bush and Australian flora and fauna, but it had already started to inform our work so it became a mutual inspiration. We then went on to design our first collection called “Regional Australia”.

There have been many remarkably creative moments for Romance Was Born. Has there been a stand out or favourite?

We have been so lucky to have been working with so many incredible talents on our journey, and the teams we have built have always been as passionate as us and I think that really showed in our 2009 fashion week show, “Dollies and Pearls, Oysters and Shells”. It was the first time our vision was able to be fully realised. We had the right team who took our vision and translated it so amazingly, from the flowers to the make up.

Luke Sales Parlour X Designer Interview

Does Australian Fashion Week play an important role for your band?

Definitely as we don’t show internationally we only have that one chance all year to show the brands DNA in its full effect. The whole story so to speak.

What has been your favourite creative collaboration to date?

We recently put on a children’s exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, and it wasn’t so much that it was our favourite but it was definitely the most interesting and inspiring, and a once in a life time experience. We just love Melbourne so much, and I’d probably live there if I weren’t doing the label so it was great to be spending so much time in a city that I understand a lot more than Sydney. Every day Anna and I would leave and talk the whole way back to hotel about different aspects of the collection. One of the rooms in our exhibition was called “Bush Magic”,  it went on to be the insertion for our Winter 15 collection by the same name. We worked with May Gibbs art work and the NGV’s collection of Hall Ludlow ‘Buttons from the ‘70s….it was so very special for us.

With our industry constantly changing, how do you see the future of fashion in Australia?

Well I don’t know, to be completely honest. I think its important to remain optimistic, but I think its kind of dooms days for a lot of the industry. It has changed so much in already in such a short amount of time.  I think you have to go back to the drawing board to rethink what it means to own a fashion company in this current landscape.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in business?

Follow your gut and play it cool.

Do you have a mentor and if so what have you learnt from them?

Well kind of. The thing I know for a fact now is no matter how successful you get its never going to get easier, bigger businesses presents bigger work loads, bigger challenges and often bigger problems.

Luke Sales Parlour X Designer Interview

How do you find time to relax?

It is really important to draw a line in the sand no matter what…otherwise it just wont happen, having said that I think I just know when times are crazy you have to just give yourself over. But, during those times is when things are happening and creatively you start to see the fruits of your labour so its an exciting time above all else. The lack of down time doesn’t really matter to me.

Describe the Romance Was Born customer in three words.

Dynamic, eclectic, individual.

Where do you see the brand in 10 years time?

Wow I have no idea (well I do but its all dreams really)…had you asked me that 10 years ago there is no way I’d thought we would be were we are now so who knows….

What is your overarching goal for the brand?

To make a lasting contribution to the cultural landscape of our country and feel truly creatively fulfilled.

You can find Romance Was Born on Instagram @romancewasborn

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