One of the highlights of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week for this writer was seeing Brisbane native, Lesleigh Jermanus, speaking about her three year old fashion label, ALEMAIS. Lesleigh was in an intimate conversation with Jillian Davison, Editor – in – Chief of Harper’s Bazaar. Founded at the height of the 2020 lockdown, ALEMAIS is a homegrown success story with the brand selling in over 26 countries around the world.
ALEMAIS is known for its colourful and beautiful, sustainable fabrics in a range of silhouettes with lovely dresses, matching sets and fun blazers. The Sydney based brand has a loyal following of wearers , many of whom wore their favourite Alemais designs to the fashionable show, which was the very first show on Day One of Australian Fashion Week.
ALEMAIS may seem like an overnight sensation but Lesleigh has worked in fashion for many years. She was an intern at Fashion Week herself at the age of 19. She said her love of fashion probably germinated even sooner. Her Mum was a keen seamstress who made many of her outfits. She also remembers the women of her family really dressing up with accessories, bags and shoes being a big part of their whole look. All this made an impression … but fashion design was not her first choice.
Finishing school Lesleigh enrolled in a Bachelor of International Business but soon realised it was not for her. She is eternally grateful that her parents encouraged a Gap Year to find herself. When she headed back to University she began a Graphic Design course before studying fashion at TAFE and then working hard on her fashion degree at QUT, where her strong work ethic stood out.
She says that students at QUT were encouraged not to be swayed by outside influences but to explore their own creativity in their own unique ways. Being in Brisbane allowed her to develop her own style of design which incorporated her love of colour and comfort. She believes there is no one Alemais customer. She has seen 13 year olds rocking her looks and recently a friend told her that her Grandma was feeling fabulous partying in Noosa in an Alemais design. She was in her 80’s.
2020 could have broken Lesleigh. She was retrenched from her job and was wondering what was next. Friends in the fashion industry were lamenting the fabric stock just lying abandoned and asking Lesleigh if she could design something. With the support of her husband, Chris and sales director, Joe as her cheer squad, Alemais was born. Lesleigh also found out she was pregnant and now she had two births to look forward to.
ALEMAIS was soon winning awards culminating in the prestigious National Design Award for 2022. This latest resort collection titled Kaboom shows the love of unique sustainable fabrics, colour and fancy. Lesleigh generously shared her creative process which included psychedelic book covers, the little known film – Return to Oz, David Bowie’s love of life and elements of the natural world. The collection this week took us on a journey through the decades.
Fabrics used in the recent designs included recycled sequins, fabric made from oranges, plant based leathers made from corn starch and organic cotton which uses less water. The ALEMAIS team are committed to sustainability and have also planted many trees. For this week’s historic show a tree was planted in honour of every guest.
Sponsored by Porsche, Lesleigh Jermanus is a woman with drive, creating beautiful garments beloved around the world. She was brave enough to start her own label at the height of the pandemic when the fashion world was in a spin. In a lovely touch her daughter Bowie joined Mum on the runway to celebrate her successful fashion week debut. Lesleigh Jermanus shows the way by combining a successful business with the important role of motherhood, one of the many reasons that #She Inspires.
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.
Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).