This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Mr. Draper

Shopping

We’re excited today to launch a new partnership with Etsy Australia, which will see us feature a handful of unique Australian Etsy sellers and handmade treasures in the lead up to Christmas.

We’re kicking off today with an introduction to a brilliant new Melbourne-based linen ware business, Mr. Draper, run by multi-talented ex-Air Force employee Alistair Birrell!

22nd October, 2015

Mr. Draper bed linen on display in Alistair’s Fitzroy studio and showroom. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Mr. Draper bed linen, designed and made in Australia. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

The Fitzroy studio and showroom of Mr. Draper. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Alistair Birrell in his Fitzroy studio putting some final touches on his range of Mr. Draper linen and napery. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Studio details. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Mr. Draper linen and napery. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Studio details. Styling – Nat Turnbull. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Alistair Birrell isn’t exactly what I imagined. Having stalked his new business, Mr. Draper, on Instagram for a few months now, I must admit, when we finally tracked Alistair down and learnt a little more about his background, his career path did surprise us! It includes running his own fledgling fashion label, working for a big logistics company, and working in the Royal Australian Air Force. I’m pretty sure that’s a first around here…!

Alistair grew up on a small farm just outside of Apollo Bay. He moved Melbourne for University in the early 2000s, and during his studies, started a successful little T-shirt label with a close friend, which operated from 2005 through to about 2009.

After finishing university and wrapping this business up, Alistair was ready for a change. ‘I wanted to see and do something completely different… I guess I was a bit burnt out and searching for inspiration’ he recalls. After working in logistics for a big company for a few years, he ended up joining the Australian Air Force, where he worked for just over four years, travelling all over the place on various assignments.

‘It seems like a really random thing to do but it made sense to me’ Alistair says of this unexpected career move. ‘A complete change or reset is sometimes exactly what you need in order to gain perspective. I’m glad I did it, it’s given me energy in a lot of ways and it taught me a lot about self-discipline, something self-employed folks can never have enough of’.

Alistair left the Air Force last year to start Mr. Draper. After a few years in such a controlled and disciplined environment, he’s relishing the opportunity to be creative again.

Recalling lessons learnt from his first business, Alistair was keen to keep Mr. Draper ultra minimal, with very simple products and processes. He designs all the linen and napery personally, and up until very recently also did all of the manufacturing himself. After sewing several thousand napkins, tea towels and handkerchiefs (!) he finally took the advice of a mentor and sought some help, working with local social enterprise The Social Studio to outsource some of his sewing. ‘They are a very cool operation and fits perfectly with Mr. Draper’s values of being open, transparent and inclusive’ Alistair says. Needless to say, all Mr. Draper products are made in small runs in Melbourne.

As for the product, well… I have to say, it’s seriously beautiful. After experimenting with different textiles including cotton and bamboo, Alistair settled on 100% pure linen imported from the UK for his entire range. We’re particularly impressed with his  exquisite colour palette – the muted soft pink, rich maroon, olive green and spicy tobacco hues are our top picks!

Having only been in business for less than twelve months, Alistair originally launched his shop on Etsy. Just this week, he’s finally followed this up with the launch of his first stand alone website. He has also enjoyed gathering a likeminded following on Instagram over the past 12 months, which he says has been  great tool in getting his product out there. ‘Apart from connecting me with a bunch of people who turned into customers, I’ve also met a lot of really cool makers’ he says. Having recently taken on a large, light-filled studio space in Gertrude st, Fitzroy, it seems Mr. Draper is ready to take off.

Start your creative business on Etsy.com.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Creative People

Keep Your Eyes On These 8 Emerging Makers!

These were some of our favourite creative newcomers in 2020!

Shopping

Eleven Candles That Bring The Razzle Dazzle To Your Dining Table

The candles of 2020 are colourful, kooky, and so fun you'll never want to burn them.

Studio Visit

Behind-The-Scenes Of The Online Store With ALL Our Favourite Makers!

If you ever think you've discovered a new creative talent, chances are Kelly Thompson is already all over it!

This Week

Gardens

An Equally Functional + Lush Suburban Garden Makeover

The stunning garden of landscape designer and owner of Ballast Landscape, Julian Bombardiere, in Kings Langley, NSW.

Studio Visit

Inside The Dreamy Garden Shed Studio Of Emerging Ceramic Artist, Anni Hagberg

Introducing the graduate artist who was the recipient of The Design Files Emerging Maker Award at Craft Victoria's annual 'Fresh!' exhibitio...
Sasha Gattermayr
42:51

Podcast

TDF Talks with Plant Designer, Jenna Holmes of Plant Mama

In this podcast conversation, Jenna of 'Plant Mama' and 'Pasta Mama' shares how she has built and grown two very different businesses from t...

Architecture

A Sleek, Surprising Reworking Of A Victorian Cottage

A humble but innovative extension by Blair Smith Architecture has totally modernised this Victorian cottage in Brunswick.

Stays

A Moody Slice Of Paradise In The Byron Hinterland

The Dairy is a magical accommodation that feels like it could be in Tuscany...but in reality, it's only 15 minutes away from some of Austral...

Studio Visit

An Innovative New Collaboration From MIMCO, Featuring Boundary-Pushing Sustainable Materials

As a result of their longstanding partnership with the NGV, MIMCO has teamed up with biomaterial designer Alice Potts on a limited-edition c...

On The Market

Mid-Century Magic On A Bushland Block (And On The Market!)

Originally built in 1967, this absolute dream home features terrazzo floors and an entire facade of floor-to-ceiling windows!
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Swoon-Worthy Luggage For The Perfect Weekend Escape

Local luggage experts July prep us for the summer of local travel with the slick new ‘Daybreak’ range.
Sponsored

Creative People

Keep Your Eyes On These 8 Emerging Makers!

From a magazine editor-turned ceramicist, to a fashion and homewares brand using fabrics direct from Africa, these were some of our favourit...

Studio Visit

The Young Designer Using Traditional Leather-Working Techniques To Create Accessories Inspired By The Australian Landscape

Leather craftsman Liam Dillon shares the detailed history behind an ancient trade - and the ways he uses traditional techniques in his moder...
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace That Plays Design Gymnastics!

Melbourne's colour masters Wowowa are back with another clever Victorian renovation!

News

A Starlight Summer Festival To Begin In Heide’s Sculpture Park

Get your socialising mojo back with this cultural program of dance events, music acts and Indigenous storytelling at Heide Museum of Modern
Sponsored

News

A Sunny New Storefront For Not-For-Profit Design Organisation The Social Studio

The not-for-profit organisation has a new sunshine-filled space designed by Studio Goss at Collingwood Yards!

News

Relax Into The New Year With The Perfect Bath Accessory

Adios 2020, we’re heading into the new year with a totally new vibe courtesy of these sustainable timber bath trays from The Wood People.
Sponsored

Homes

A Blissful Art Deco Apartment Up In The Trees

This carefully curated rental in East Melbourne of friends Lauren Everett and Frances Normoyle is the ultimate 'grown up' share house!

Similar Stories

Creative People

Keep Your Eyes On These 8 Emerging Makers!

These were some of our favourite creative newcomers in 2020!

Shopping

Eleven Candles That Bring The Razzle Dazzle To Your Dining Table

The candles of 2020 are colourful, kooky, and so fun you'll never want to burn them.

Studio Visit

Behind-The-Scenes Of The Online Store With ALL Our Favourite Makers!

If you ever think you've discovered a new creative talent, chances are Kelly Thompson is already all over it!

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.