7 January 2014

1989 The Label on Architecture and Dogs


 Words: Saskia Edwards
Images: Jonathan Rae

In 1989 George Bush Snr was elected President of the United States, Denmark became the first country to legalise gay marriage and Ice Cube left N.W.A. It was also the year 1989 The Label’s designer Tess Gard was born.

Several years since then, she’s lived in Switzerland, London and India and created 1989 The Label.

Tess says these life experiences have formed her design perspective and her parents’ occupation as architects has been a major factor in her aesthetic reference.

“Ever since I started studying fashion, I’ve just been obsessed with buildings.

“And when I travel I come home with photographs and none of them are actual things, they’re just of like little bits of buildings and like where the lines meet each other.”

It’s pretty easy to see the architectural influences in 1989 The Label – clean lines, a cool colour palate and angular cuts.

While some designs may seem ostensibly simple, 1989 is all about the detail like slightly higher necklines, shorts and skirts at the most flattering lengths and personalised prints.

“I don’t want to make anything too complicated.

“I still want it to be really wearable, really basic, so people don’t have to buy the whole outfit. It’s something that can just fit in someone’s wardrobe.

“But obviously you can’t just be whipping out basics that are the same over and over. So I just try and focus on little details.”

Tess produced her first collection in India, after spending five weeks in Delhi. She says while the experience was enlightening, it wasn’t practical when back in Australia.

“I really changed the values of where I wanted to go with the brand.

“And I really do want to be made locally and vertically integrated as well – produce everything in house and have retail stores.”

Her latest collection is Australian made. Undeniably, the pièce de résistance of 1989 AW14 is the dog print motif. It’s a coy Maltese sitting like a human - basically an Internet sensation waiting to happen. Tess explains the beautiful symbolism behind the design.

“He’s the cutest dog in the world.

“His name’s Paso and he’s my boyfriend’s brother’s dog and I used to live with him for a few years.

“And my sister, who’s actually a photographer as well, we did a photo shoot with the dog and she took the photos, which I turned into the print.”

What’s there to look forward to in 1989? Well beyond the world’s best print, Tess is working on a unisex t-shirt line. As 1989 relocates to Melbourne and continues on, Tess hopes to add other elements to the label.

“I really want to keep the progression really slow so every step I’m expanding I’m in control of and I’m learning slowly and not making too many mistakes along the way.


“I feel more comfortable just doing things that I know I’m capable of at the moment. Every year I learn more things and am capable of doing more with it.”

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