Looks: Primoeza

Primoeza is the Melbourne-based clothing and accessories label of textile designer Elizabeth Yong.

Established in 2009, Primoeza pieces possess an aesthetic and sensibility that take inspiration from traditional craft practices, a tactile appreciation of natural materials, and contemporary design. Reengaging the process of designing garments with an ethos of the handmade, every piece produced by the label is made in small batches in-house or by select local manufacturers.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I do a lot of different things but I trained as a textile designer and for the last few years have been working under my label Primoeza, which I named after my two cats. I began by making handmade knitwear and have more recently added small scale production clothing. I also make other textile based art and objects and take photos.

How long have you lived in  Melbourne and what brought you there? I was born in Melbourne and live here. I have travelled a lot and am constantly day dreaming of living somewhere else, but Melbourne’s a pretty good place and just at the point when I feel jaded I always discover something new. Recently I’ve been enjoying wandering the streets of North Fitzroy. A lot of the gardens and plants around there are so old, chaotic and entwined, they’re beautiful.

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What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? I have gone through some massive life changes this year and I can’t help but think these will influence my work. I want to let this happen though — I’ve never been one to box up my work life and personal life separately. I’ve also spent the last few years working in a pretty solitary manner, which has been great as it’s allowed me to really refine my ideas and style but now I feel ready to open up to new ideas and people and seeing how these will affect things.

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What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Earlier this year, I made some work for an installation in a retail space. The owners were very open to ideas and supportive of my creativity and the end result was a small collection of very intentionally unwearable garments and accessories. Clothing production can be quite rigid and confining and it’s great to do something a bit more fluid along side it. I am talking with a jeweller and artist whose work I’ve admired for a long time about working on a project together, which I’m very excited about and I always dream of picking up photography again.

Tell us about your work process and how it develops. I’ve discovered that I am not good at or even that interested in building a mood or story board from external references and using that as a starting point. My process is very internal, intuitive and somewhat emotional. It is hard to know where inspiration comes from at the time, it only becomes clear to me in hindsight. For example, I was working on this current collection while going through a pretty dark, challenging time. I realise now that the clothing was trying to capture an innocence, lightness and simplicity that I was craving; my work was an attempt to balance out my personal life.

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Favorite article of clothing? A men’s italian linen shirt that I found in an op shop (an Australian version of a thrift store) about 20 years ago. I bought it for my boyfriend at the time but he never wore it so it made its way back into my closet. It’s a beautiful shade of blue, has an irregular but perfectly balanced stripe and having been washed so many times over the years is incredibly soft. It has great big holes in it now but I don’t think I’ll ever throw it out!

Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? I have received messages from people who own pieces that I’ve made over the years. While they often comment on the design or the colour, they will more often tell me how good it makes them feel. I also have a customer in Germany who from time to time will send me lovely literary quotes that connect with our lives and clothing. We might need to make money from our businesses but it’s the personal connections that you remember.

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Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? Soundcloud, my favorite for playing music at the moment; Mr Kitly, a beautiful little store/gallery in Melbourne that I’m lucky enough to work at and curates the best selection of home-wares and ceramics, and Inventory magazine for discovering obscure Japanese menswear and heritage English labels that I would otherwise never know about.

If you were a drink what drink would you be? An alcoholic ginger beer, if there was such a thing.

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What past trends in fashion should never come back? None! I l am now old enough to see some past trends being reinvented and I really love it! I’m currently wearing an outfit which I’m pretty sure is similar to one I wore when I was 15 and it’s kind of funny and fun!