What path bought you to Life Instyle?
We have been looking forward to joining Life Instyle for a while now. We launched our Children’s collection a couple of years ago and since then it has been through some changes. We recently re-branded tanner + teague kids to SOKK. Our little family. Sam Otto Kitty Kyleigh. Same signature styles with a cool new logo. Now felt like the right time to share it with everyone.
A typical day at work involves…
Getting Coffee from Alimentari across from our Smith St. Store. Checking in with everyone in the store and in the studio. I oversee our three main lines, tanner + teague Men’s and Women’s Collections and SOKK. There’s always a lot happening. I usually have meetings with fabric suppliers or local makers. We are completely made in Melbourne, which allows us to oversee all of our production, and we know all makers personally. I love working above the store, I can chat to customers, see what they love, what they might be looking for in a new collection. Our SOKK section of the store is always fun and filled with exciting toys and gifts. I love sourcing cool kids toys that are hard to find.
My style is best described as…
Simple. I like no fuss. This comes across in what I personally wear but also in our collections. Through our design process we make sure everything is comfortable, looks amazing, fits well, and that all our pieces in each collection work together. I’m also a mum so our Children’s Clothes need to wash well and be super durable for busy little people.
If I wasn’t doing this I’d probably…
Whatever it was, we would probably still be doing it as a husband and wife team. Sam and I work well together as Head Designer and Creative Director. We have very defined roles in our business, which helps. If it wasn’t fashion? We would be designing or constructing something. Sam has a way of telling if something is 1mm out, he can spot it. It comes in handy when we have renovated our houses. He approaches building the same way he approaches our garment patterns. It has to be perfect.
I get my best business ideas by…
We have always had our best business ideas away from the normal day-to-day routines. We are so immersed in our business sometimes you need to step back to see the big picture, what needs to come next or what can be done differently. It usually includes a nice glass of wine, a sketchbook, pages of writing and brainstorming. That’s how tanner + teague started, endless sketchbooks while we were living in London. We had the name of the business years before we started it.
The biggest influence in my business life is…
I can’t say that there is one influence in my business life, there are so many. I try to surround myself with great people, big thinkers and people who are working hard to create change in some way. One of the greatest influences in our collections comes from Sam’s time working for Vivienne Westwood. Her famous line; Buy Less, Choose Well, Make it Last is something we always take into account when designing collections.
Clothing shouldn’t be about fast fashion and constantly trend driven. We aim to focus on quality pieces that are made to last. We believe Children’s clothes shouldn’t be exempt from this philosophy. We are constantly striving to create something new and exciting. Something our customers haven’t seen before. For us it’s about the design process and how people feel when they wear our clothes. We want them to feel confident and feel good about themselves. Our styles are classic while still fashion forward.
My dream mentor would be…
I think we can safely say that Sam’s time with Vivienne over the three years in London was life changing. She was amazing to work for but is also a great Mentor. Her philosophy of garment construction and environmental issues is something that will stay with us forever.
I feel very lucky to have worked with some great people on this tanner + teague/SOKK Journey. I have worked closely with Kylie Lewis and Belinda Langler from Of Kin and always enjoy my time with them. They are always working on great stuff with great people.
Right now I’m working on…
Getting ready for Life Instyle. Finalising our Adults Collections and working on our own prints for SOKK. I work closely with our fabric designer who is a great friend. We have fun together and I’m always so excited work with her. It doesn’t really feel like work.
After living in London, where Sam worked for Vivienne Westwood, We moved back to Melbourne to start our family. Sam worked for Scanlan Theodore and Willow before we launched tanner + teague in 2013. A children’s label aimed at design-oriented parents looking for exceptional design and quality in their children’s clothes. These garments were made to last and to be extremely comfortable through our signature style and design features. The Label quickly expanded to Men’s and Women’s through high demand from customers who wanted our styles in their size. tanner + teague has a flagship store on Smith St. Fitzroy and our Children’s range is now SOKK.
Our customers are always looking for exceptional quality. They believe strongly in supporting local designers and local manufacturing. I see consumers investing in garments that are longer lasting, well designed and am classic pieces in their wardrobe. Our customers lead busy lives and wish to find most of their items they need in one store. They travel and are excited to take a piece of Melbourne with them by wearing local designs. Our customers invest in custom made items so they know it was made especially for them. People are drawn to the process as much the product its self.
What is your background?
After Sam, our head designer, worked for Vivienne Westwood in London and Paris, we returned to Melbourne to have our daughter. We could see there was a niche market looking for fashion forward Children’s clothes. Sam and I started tanner + teague in 2013. We launched as a Children’s Label and realised quickly it was our more adventurous styles that they wanted more of. Not only did they want them for their kids they wanted them for themselves! Our most asked question was ‘Can I have it in my size?’ We launch an Adults collection and opened our flagship store in 2014. Our children’s collection had been so well received I wanted it to have it’s own platform so we re-branded as SOKK in 2015.
What or who inspires you?
I’m extremely driven by what Sam and I do. I love creating. I’m always looking to surround myself with people who are working on great projects or working hard to build something from the ground up. It is hard work and I admire those who have the passion to do it.
What are your favourite trends at the moment?
I’m a fan of the Gender Neutral movement at the moment. Our unisex styles are some of our best selling pieces. They are easy to wear, stylish and comfortable. It’s what most people are looking for regardless of weather they are male or female.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
Creating everyday and having the store to curate. Working with and surrounding myself with great people. Seeing how happy people are when they come out of the change room and they love an item of clothing. What’s even better is seeing children try on our clothes. They love the swagger that is instant when they try on our trousers. So cool. Hands in pockets and a big smile.
What exciting things can readers expect to see at the upcoming show?
Sam has really put our signature style into the new collection. Lots of new designs and we have increased our size range to 12 years due to demand. Some of our favourite styles have been taken to the next level and I am really happy to launch our Premature Baby line. We have had two Premmies and I know what it’s like to not be able to find clothes for them.
Thinking about attending our upcoming event? Register online now and join us at Life Instyle & Kids Instyle Melbourne from Thursday 30 July – Sunday 2 August. Catch 600+ Out Of This World brands, all showcasing their newest collections to you first – don’t miss out! Trade Only Event.