Wise Women

Wise Women · Lisa Gorman

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2017 this Wednesday March 8th, we’ll be sharing wisdom from seven inspiring Australian creative women every afternoon this week!

This year, IWD takes up the banner: Be Bold For Change,’ honouring the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women, whilst drawing attention to the fact that progress for women’s rights has slowed in many places, and global action is still needed.

Gender inequality remains one of the greatest barriers to women’s empowerment and sustainable development across the world. According to the UN, women are disproportionately affected by poverty, discrimination and exploitation because of barriers to education and employment. At home in Australia, the national gender pay gap (the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings) is currently 16.2 per cent, and has hovered between 15 and 19 per cent for the past 20 years!?

We first turn to Lisa Gorman, the founder and creative director of Gorman. In almost two decades, she’s built up her successful womenswear brand from a small wholesale range to more than 30 stores across Australia.

Lisa Gorman

Lisa Gorman, founder and creative director of Gorman. Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

Lisa Gorman
6th of March 2017

Wise words from Lisa Gorman, the founder and creative director of Australian clothing and accessories label Gorman.

On the best part about working in a predominantly female sphere…
The female voice is quite loud and clear at Gorman, as we are women 
creating for other women.  The advantage is the understanding of what 
our customers want in our brand. Of course there are some mighty fine 
men working in the company too, but when it comes to product they tend 
to leave us to do our thing.

Women are the multitaskers of the world, which makes for good 
management, whether it be a company or a family or both.

On the challenges of being a woman in her field…
In terms of my experience in the business world, challenges are vast and varied, man or woman. I grew up in a family with three sisters and my dad was a nurse. Most of our family friends felt sorry for Dad, but we thought he was pretty lucky. However it was definitely a woman’s world growing up in our house purely out of numbers alone.

On the best advice…
‘A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.’  Coco Chanel. 
I’m very conscious and incredibly grateful that I’ve grown up in a 
society that has allowed me this attitude. It’s not available to all 
women of this world unfortunately.

On inspirational women…
This morning, I was visited by eight ladies from Papua New Guinea who are working with me to produce a collection of traditionally woven Bilums (type of bag). The source of inspiration from their product was enormous. But that was 
not the only thing.  Their personal stories, love of their art form, 
their humility and happiness were present in overwhelming proportions. 
We are working together to not only show Australia their incredible 
work, but to empower these women and the women of their community.
 That’s where the inspiration is at.

On ‘Mum’s (NOT) always right’…
I quote Jane Gorman: ‘Lisa, slow down, or you’ll kill yourself.’ Hasn’t 
yet rung true… thankfully!

On girl power…
You might have seen me post this before… ‘In Paris I see girls and boys wearing painted nails and bike gloves. People wear bike gloves for grip and painted nails for fancy times,’ wrote Hazel, aged-six at the time. Equality through the eyes of my six-year-old – this is a good sign for the 

On what I wish I knew back then…
Too much knowledge when starting out would scare the life out of 
you and you wouldn’t start anything at all. I think you find out things when 
they’re ready to find you .

On what we need to achieve greater gender equality…
There’s been improvement, but I’d like to see equal numbers of women and 
men on company boards, and equal numbers on women’s and men’s pay cheques.

Equality starts at the top, at home, in the workplace… therefore in all areas of society.