If the people from Tourism NSW happened to be strolling around Circular Quay today, they could well have whipped out their iPhones and shot a jaw-dropping new campaign right then and there. So picture perfect was the setting for Bondi Born’s Resort ’22 runway show today, it would appear a fairytale to anyone viewing the footage from abroad. Set along the dockside of the Overseas Passenger Terminal at The Rocks, the white runway lay centimetres from the harbour water’s edge. Above: a perfect blue sky. Swirling: a decorative smattering of gliding seagulls. The backdrop: The Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the comings and goings of Sydney’s endangered ferries. On my lap: a very welcome poke bowl.
I had the great pleasure of interviewing Dale McCarthy, founder of Bondi Born, the day before the show. Her savvy, business-minded nature was apparent as soon as she began explaining her brand’s ethos. Her decades spent as head of major accounts for advertising agencies lead her to creating a label that is as wearable and chic as it is cleverly marketable. Bondi Born is, by and large, a literal name, but it’s the locale’s wider association that’s putting it on the global stage.
Designed in partnership with creative director Karla Clake, Bondi Born is known for its body-loving, sculptural cuts. The label was one of the first to offer minimalist, monochromatic, luxury swimsuits. Now, their collections encompass a full resort offering (including, today, footwear by Sydney-based slide-darlings Mara & Mine) – throw-over trousers, halter maxis, matchy separates and beach-to-bar dresses, all with that uniformed hook to Sydney’s most famous beach.
As McCarthy explained to us, this year the collection is “inspired by the vibrant flora and fauna of the dense tropical climates of Central America”. While cuts and shapes are key to Bondi Born’s popularity it’s their seasonal palettes that are forging an additional cult-following. They manage to cultivate a range of vibrant colours that, while punchy and enigmatic, are also ever so slightly muted, allowing them to marry into the world of non-neutral neutrals. Like McCarthy’s own cobalt blue silk suit that radiated in an impressively relaxed way or today’s range of fuchsias, papayas and boysenberries that equally popped with an sense of wearability.
“I’m forever inspired by street style, and the Resort ’22 Collection showcases practicality with urban-inspired femininity. It offers solutions and is underpinned by enviable simplicity and everyday comfort”, says McCarthy. The brand is also well in tune with its sustainable responsibilities. “The collection’s fabrications include GRS recycled polyester wool, a GRS recycled cotton/linen blend, and Better Cotton Initiative sourced cottons, that are sourced from select farmers that grow cotton in a way that reduces stress on the environment, and improve the livelihoods and welfare of farming communities.”
It’s obvious that McCarthy’s and Clark’s sartorial chemistry is working. Their range grows every season and, despite COVID, McCarthy tells me sales have increased by 300% in the past year. She puts a lot of that down to Australians holidaying at home and supporting Australian fashion. And there was certainly a lot of support for the label today. A huge outpouring of attention from the who’s who of Australian fashion, media and influencing, all phone-documenting every moment of a presentation that featured a welcome range of models – ages, sizes and backgrounds. This is resort for the 2021 consumer. Fluid silhouettes crafted from super soft cotton modals, drawstring rompers, jersey knit stretch skirts and crisp poplins for super flattering shirting.
During our interview it was clear that despite the hardships of setting up a fashion label from scratch, McCarthy remains wildly enamoured by the celebration of her label and what Australian Fashion Week represents. Bondi Born is fast becoming the most sort after each ticket year, and it’s not surprising. Impeccable style in fresh, covetable colours flanked by the city’s most iconic places. And somehow they even managed to organise weather of magnificent perfection. Your move, Tourism NSW, you’d be pressed to ever find something more spectacular.
WATCH OUR INTERVIEW WITH BONDI BORN DESIGNER, DALE MCCARTHY, HERE: