Ok, forgive me, I actually cannot contain my immense starstruck enthusiasm today! Ever since the very early days of launching this website, I have revered Brisbane-based fashion label Easton Pearson, and today, nearly five years on, I am finally posting an interview with this incredible creative duo!
It seems only fitting to close this special Brisbane week with a profile on Lydia Pearson and Pamela Easton. Without a doubt, they have certainly become one of Brisbane’s most loved and respected creative partnerships. These are not just immensely talented, hardworking and successful women – they’re also incredibly well liked in Brisbane, having inadvertently taken on an ambassadorial role of sorts, flying a friendly flag for their much loved home town wherever they go. Quite simply, everyone I met in Queensland had something lovely to say about them.
Lydia Pearson and Pamela Easton are impressive on many levels. Their designs, of course, are exquisite. Their collections seem to dance to a beat largely disconnected from external trends or fashion industry hype. Instead it appears that with every new collection, Pamela and Lydia pluck inspiration from a myriad of unexpected sources, creating garments which really defy mainstream trend analysis. They’re simply the most beautifully made, intricately embellished clothes, created with passion and personality, and an ever-present attention to detail.
Lydia Pearson and Pamela Easton formed their partnership in 1989 – making this their 23rd year in business together! Based from their head office in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, Easton Pearson now have two Australian flagship stores, and supply over 100 of the finest retail stores worldwide. Lydia and Pamela work incredibly hard to maintain the quality and detail for which Easton Pearson is so well known – they still play a very hands on roll in every facet of the business, and travel abroad annually to create the exquisite textiles which form the foundation of their collections.
Easton Pearson’s Spring / Summer collection (pictured here) will be in store next week! Their stunning second collaboration with Designer Rugs has also launched this month, drawing inspiration from their love of travel, and an exploration of Indo – European Chintz textiles. (The full rug collection can be seen here– outrageously beautiful stuff!). I’m also very keen to see Easton Pearson’s new EP Manchester bedlinen and homewares collection, launching very soon! (I’ll be sure to keep you posted!)
Massive thanks to Lydia and Pamela for sharing their story with us today. Read on for an insight into one of Australia’s most inspiring and longstanding creative partnerships!
We both grew up in Queensland and moved to Brisbane after high school. We had overlapping groups of friends, and we stood out. In those days Brisbane was a small and repressive place. Anyone who wanted to be different lived in a type of alternative fantasy world. We wore op shop clothes all the time, we had fake weddings and debutante balls. It was definitely a ‘make your own fun’ existence, and I think that gave us a self sufficient ‘can do’ approach to life.
We did not get together to form Easton Pearson until after we had both spent time in the fashion industry, Pam at Sportsgirl in Melbourne and on the David Lawrence design team, and myself designing under my own name. When we started Easton Pearson we each made a list of what we wanted from a career, a label, and our life in general.
Our lists matched uncannily well, and that is when we decided to start. The label was originally called Bow and Arrow for the first few years, but it quickly became obvious that we should use our own names as the label was so personal.
Working together so intensely over so many years is something everyone finds intriguing. We have decided that one of the main reasons it has continued to work is because we have no division of labour, we effectively function as one, and every decision is a considered a joint decision. This can be inefficient initially, but there are no recriminations when things don’t work out, and the glory is always split evenly down the middle!
Pam and I are still responsible for every design decision, for every aspect of the company, from the collections to the shop packaging. We write every design spec for the main collection and the takeaway holiday collection, the accessories for the shops, as well as the new EP Manchester bedlinen and home collection.
All the prints are our own, and we are VERY hands on in their creation. Much of the fabric in each collection is commissioned by us, and all the embroidery is developed with us in India at the embroidery workshops. We spend a significant amount of time in Mumbai and Delhi, and have become quite knowledgeable about many aspects of surface decoration.
We are both morning people, and like to start early (although we have a constant text warning system for late arrival alerts). Typically we arrive at the office around 8am, whoever arrives first makes the essential pot of tea, without which we cannot begin! The days whizz by in a flurry of emails and meetings, but if we are in a busy design phase, much of the time will be spent writing specs for the patternmaker, fitting toiles, working on prints and detailing. We rarely leave the office during the day when we are in Brisbane, but finish around 6 or 7pm.
There is a big change in our daily schedule when we travel to India. There our typical day begins with a breakfast meeting from 7.30am until about 10am. As we stay with our wonderful friend and colleague, this meeting is often conducted in pyjamas! As Sudha runs a fabulous kitchen, one of the decisions made is what to have for dinner, but the rest is definitely business.
Noone gets to the office before 10 or 11am, and so we have a huge advantage of getting so much done early. The rest of the day always involves a lot of driving, a lot of talking, and often a visit to the fabulous bead market to source new wonders. We arrive home by 7.30 in time for a by then much needed drink…tired but (usually) happy!
As anyone who has seen a cross-section of our work will know, we love colour, pattern and intricate detail. Our personal style is most deﬁnitely the starting place for the Easton Pearson aesthetic, and over the years, our individual styles have melded into the DNA of the brand. It happened almost by osmosis, but when we look back it is amazing to see that we actually do have a recognisable look, and threads that run through many collections.
Pam and I have different personal styles, although we love many of the same things. Even when we wear the same piece we put it together differently. Pam has a really enviable collection of accessories, and wears them with so much panache she seems to engender desire and envy in women wherever she goes. She has a great sense of drama, and wears colour so well. I am always in danger of looking conservative, and have to work hard to offset the more classic pieces in the collection with something quirky.
This is our second full collaboration with Designer Rugs, after launching the first collection almost four years ago. We first met Yosi Tal when he organised a charity event and invited designers each to design a rug, which he then made to be auctioned. It was a very exciting experience, and we were thrilled when he invited us back to do a full collection.
Both of the collections have focused on a macro view of traditional chintz patterns, magnifying tiny details to giant proportion, resulting in semi abstract patterning. One of the wonderful things about this collaboration is that because each rug is woven to client order, there is a chance to change the size to fit a specific space, and also to do some colour adjustment to fit the client brief.
We live in hope that a very large hotel or airport will give an order measured in kilometres!
To see the inside workings of almost any creative process is inspiring. We forget or just don’t realise just how much human endeavour goes into the creation of a piece of art or design. The artisans who actually execute the ideas of all designers are the unsung heroes of our creative world.
We recently saw the documentary film about the Hermes artisans, and that was very significant to us both. Interviews with leather workers, metal casters, wood turners, ceramicists, just talking up close about their world, with close focus on their hands at work was riveting and poignant. All of this invisible dedication to producing something close to perfect – a real inspiration.
We tend look more to books and exhibitions rather than online resources for inspiration. Brisbane has a very dynamic and exciting art scene, and it is very inspiring to see the world ﬁltered through the eyes of emerging and established art workers.
Having said this we do do the online fashion blog circuit and regularly read Jak & Jil, Garance Dore, The Sartorialist, and Susie Bubble, and also make an effort of visiting other non-fashion publications online including Gourmet Traveller, Nowness, and Monocle.
Another massive source of inspiration comes from the bookcase in our office that is crammed with books on textiles, ethnic culture, vintage art books, exhibition catalogues. We have pored over them, many many times, and yet somehow, coming back to the same book with a new agenda, there is suddenly a different focus, and more inspiration!
We have had our business for 23 years, so that makes us proud, and astonished that it can be true! There also does seem to be a recognisable Easton Pearson aesthetic, that has evolved but endured. That makes us very proud!
To design our collection exactly as we want it with no pragmatic considerations regarding price, practicality or delivery deadlines.
The launch of our EP Manchester bedlinen and homewares collection. Watch this space!
Well of course James Street is the destination du jour, and in such a short time has established a wonderful tenant mix, and neighbourhood ﬂavour. It is also home to our Easton Pearson store.
For quirky shopping and great food, the Logan Road hot spot in Wooloongabba is wonderful. There are lots of antique shops and mid century furniture, and eateries including Pearl Cafe, The Crosstown Eating House, 1889 Enotecca, Browndog Cafe and more.
Textiles are near impossible, unless you get lucky in the vintage shops. Clothes are easier!
There is our shop of course on James Street, and further down the road is Camargue has with all their great import labels, including Dries van Noten. Jean Brown and Maryon’s have wonderful import shoes and bags, while Tom Gunn has quirky eponymous shoes.
Then for then men there is The Cloakroom, which is a haven of elegant shoes, and bespoke shirts and suits.
Pam: E’cco bistro, which has been there for more than 18 years. The food is always delicious, and the experience wonderful.
Lydia: I love going out spontaneously in the daytime, very casually, and Sourced Grocer is perfect for light delicious food that is carefully chosen and inventively presented.
Pam: At home with a cup of tea, or going for a walk along the river.
Lydia: At Davies Park Market in West End. We do the fresh grocery shop for the week there and get fresh ﬁsh, bread, ﬂowers, and see dozens of people we know, and often end up with some of them over for a coffee back at our house.
Well the secret’s out…BRISBANE is great, and everyone is starting to realise. We have had such a renaissance here in the last 10 years. Life here has always been easy and pleasant, but now it is exciting and glamorous too.