A Little Slice of Australia with Hannah Wang: Founder, AUST.
“I was a happy active kid. I took dance classes, music classes, swim classes, loved the beach and was a total water baby. I was always dreaming up big ideas and I wanted to change the world. So not much has changed I guess! My grandparents raised me, and my Mum moved in with us when I was 7. Mum and Grandma have always been amazing role models of strong women. I always had family around me and even though they were pretty traditionally Chinese and Russian, they fiercely supported even my most untraditional of goals.
I was smart and also super rebellious in high school, and I was going down a pretty bad path until out-of-the-blue I got a role on a TV show and then moved to the Gold Coast to shoot. I spent 6 months living on the beach with the other cast members, and we were total rat bags. But I came back from that experience with more confidence, and wanting to re-engage with my life.
I loved finding out about the back story of each designer, how they started their business, what inspired them, etc.
I loved fashion growing up. I was always getting in trouble from my family about spending too much money on clothes!! I would spend my whole pay check on some luxe Australian designer I was newly obsessed with. I loved finding out about the back story of each designer, how they started their business, what inspired them etc. I had no idea it could end up being a career! My dad always encouraged me to be my own boss, and suggested I open a clothing store when I was 19. I guess the idea just stuck from there!
The journey to launching AUST. has been life changing. It feels divine, effortless and uplifting. But at the same time it can feel like a slow, uphill struggle. The walls of the business are built with the laughter, tears, sweat, and grit of so many people that have crossed our path. Every day has been a challenge, we are continuously growing. For the moment I knew I made it, one story in particular comes to mind. A couple years into business I walked into a local party and noticed some people wearing clothes from my shop. Then I noticed someone else dressed in our gear. Looking around, there were a handful of people all wearing clothes from my shop! As we all started talking about that and as they shared how much they loved the store, someone start yelling and chanting “AUST., AUST., AUST.!” Soon the whole party was chanting it! Haha… it was pretty cool. It’s so great to feel so supported by our local community.
Every day is different! When I’m in LA, I’m going between checking in on the shop, office time, buying appointments, and meetings with my team. In Bali, days are filled with designing a.line, sourcing fabrics, working closely with our production team on the collection, creating digital content, and waking up early for FaceTime meetings to LA.
I’d say my personal style is an intersection of soft luxe fabrics, feminine tailoring, more classic than trendy, with a twist of something a little fun, sexy and different. I need to be comfortable and feel great in what I’m wearing, so how an outfit moves is really important. I especially love an outfit when I can take it from work, to bar, to beach.
At the end of the day, fashion should be fun and about your self expression. So I try to always mix it up, be creative, and not take it too seriously. I love any excuse to wear glitter, dress up, or play a sort of ‘character’ through how I dress. I wouldn’t say AUST. is based off my personal tastes per se, but it definitely is a reflection of what I find interesting or inspiring. I use it as a great opportunity to represent fashion that might not necessarily suit my personal style, but might be super awesome on someone else. I love that the store allows me the freedom to explore fashion without being limited to my personal style.
a.line however I would definitely say is an extension of my personal style. a.line is our in house brand I design that launched in 2018. With that brand I feel like I design the clothes that I want to wear. It’s like shopping for my own wardrobe but creating the outfit instead!
A great outfit isn’t just about what others see, it’s how you feel in what you wear. And that starts from within, baby!
Clothing can be a powerful way to help us step into more of who we are, and express the parts of ourselves we want to be express most. When you’re trying to find your style, I think the most important question to ask yourself is how do you want to feel? I ask myself this question every morning before I get dressed, and I dress to match the way I want to feel.
Another thing to keep in mind, is that each day is new. So when you’re trying to find your look, remember there’s no final destination. It is always evolving, just as you are always evolving. Look at each new day as a new opportunity to keep redefining your personal style. Currently, I am living in a.line’s satin bias skirt over the the bandeau top and thong bikini set, both the blush and Uluru red colours. The shape is super flattering, the fabrics are so comfortable, and I feel chic enough for a fancy restaurant while also active enough to take off my skirt and jump straight in the ocean!
Everyone should have the following in their wardrobe:
A great pair of sunglasses! I love eyewear, and if eyes are the windows to the soul, then make sure your curtains are cute, a vintage scarf with a print that really sings to you. It’s so versatile! Something you can wear as a top, as a headband, or tie it round your bag for a bit of flair …and lastly, good underwear. A great outfit isn’t just about what others see, it’s how you feel in what you wear. And that starts from within, baby!
If I want an outfit to be jazzyyy, I usually start with what I want to feature and build the rest of the outfit from there. Pick your piece that will stand out and allow the other pieces to compliment that one. Or if your outfit is simple and sleek and you want to brighten it up, I’d say put a pair of great earrings, some subtle shimmer glow on your body, and a bold red lip.
My most worn pieces include a Jordan Askill heart rose gold ring with a diamond on the other side. I’ve always loved his jewelry and treated myself to a ring when I first opened AUST. and we were carrying his designs. The heart reminds me to do what I love, and the diamond reminds me that it takes a lot of time and pressure to form a diamond.
SUSTAINABILITY & ETHICS
Sustainability is awesome and completely necessary!! It’s important that we continue to become more aware of how our actions effect the world around us. As for ethics, I think that’s absolutely vital. I believe every entrepreneur starts their business on some level to make the world a better place, and the purpose of business is to contribute to society. In this definition, ethics are a must for your business to be successful. At the end of the day we live in a world where we are all brothers and sisters as humans and it’s our duty to be good to each other.
With sustainability, I think that there is no ‘perfect.’ The key to being a sustainable brand is to become more conscious and aware about the imprint you are leaving on the earth through what you do, then to put in the effort to try and reduce that. When you’re making a choice in your business, even the seemingly small ones, it's about placing value on taking care of our planet, just as much as valuing the bottom line.
The way I think of it is that the more that everyone wins, the more I win. The more the business can serve humanity as a whole, the better the business will be. AUST. has been a passionate advocate for slow fashion since 2013. We exclusively offer independent brands that are thoughtful and ethical in their production. With our approach and offerings, we do our best to educate customers on the importance of shopping independent, and why it’s great to know the story of the brand you are purchasing. Being more conscious about your consumer habits is vital!
We limit our use of plastic in production by packaging delivery together, rather than piece by piece, saving a ton of package waste.
Our labels in store engage in a variety of ethical practices such as Dreamy Moons that plants a tree with every sale, or Zulu & Zephyr that use recyclable packaging in all their deliveries. All our product is made to order, and sometimes we are ordering over 6 months in advance. This helps limit wastage in production.
a.line, our in house label, also aims to be more sustainable in its production. We come up with creative ways to use our fabric wastage, developing products such as our a.line pouch or little lace cami as a creative way to use our fabric offcuts from production. We limit our use of plastic in production by packaging delivery together, rather than piece by piece, saving a ton of package waste.
Where we spend determines what we support, and show where our values lie. This is important! If there’s something you believe in, make sure your own consumer behavior aligns with that as best you can.
My top tips are:
- Shop independent! If you have a choice between your local grocery store or large chain brand, go and shop at your local store.
- Have a slow fashion mindset! Boycott fast fashion, there are the opposite of sustainability. Invest in pieces you know you’ll have forever. Take care of what you already own.
- Do your research! Ask questions. Get educated. Don’t be shy to email companies and ask what they are doing to contribute to sustainability. Know what you’re purchasing.
Tons of great tips on our Radical Australians Meaningful Conversations podcast episode with Natascha Elisa - check it out here!”