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Dominique Healy On The Melbourne Lockdown, WFH, And Supporting Local Makers

by: Rosie Dalton | 1 month ago | Features

Image: Dominique Healy.

Dominique Healy is a Melbourne-based designer specialising in effortlessly romantic designs. Locally-made in a Minimal Waste supply chain, her dreamy dresses and blouses are crafted from high quality natural fabrications. Here, Dom shares her views on the Melbourne lockdown, working from home, and the importance of supporting local makers right now. 

This year has been a pretty intense one – especially for our local fashion community in Melbourne. How have you been coping with the latest lockdown?
I must admit it has been a very, very testing time. Manufacturing restrictions have been the hardest thing to try and work around. I had to buy a set of machines and set up a temporary studio at my house. It made my ability to produce extremely limited, so I’m very excited to be back in the studio with my team.  

What are some of your key takeaways from this time?
The general support that people have given to local businesses has been such a huge positive. I’ve heard quite a few people saying that they’ve been overwhelmed by the support of the local community. Also a big one has been realising how many things we took for granted prior to this time.

Can you tell us about your WFH wardrobe?
It consists mostly (as always) of jeans and jumpers or blouses. I wore my loungewear sets quite a lot this year too! I also love to wear big chunky knits from local makers – they keep me incredibly cosy on the colder days. 

Have there been any benefits of operating as a small, independent designer during this time?
As I don’t work with large amounts of stock and I predominantly manufacture most of my pieces in-house, I was able to adapt a lot faster. Because I’m small and work really closely to the release of my ranges, it allows me to have control over the production. I ended up not releasing quite a few things and instead making a new range just before going into the first lockdown, which were my loungewear styles. 

Carrying low quantities meant that I also haven’t been stuck with a whole lot of excess stock at the end of the season, and I didn’t have to worry about having to clear things out. Especially things that people haven’t been buying as much during Covid, like eveningwear.   

How have the imposed restrictions affected local makers in Melbourne?
MASKS. Unless you work from home, manufacturers and anyone working in a shared space in Victoria have only been allowed to produce PPE and Masks for the past 8 weeks. They have been a total lifeline for a lot of people in the industry. It has allowed us to be able to still generate some kind of income during this time.

Brands that outsource their manufacturing locally have been really affected, a lot of us are quite far behind with manufacturing due to the restrictions. It has set me back in time because all my time has been solely producing stock from my home studio, so I have fallen quite far behind in a lot of other areas of my business – including making my next range. Which I can hopefully get started on soon, now that I’m back in the studio.

So why do you feel it’s even more important now to support locally-made fashion?
I feel like it’s always been important. I think small businesses, like many others, are going to struggle to survive this recession. We need to keep thinking about what businesses we want to see on the other side of this and make a conscious effort to support them. It really is a tough time for everyone at the moment. Also by keeping your spending local, it helps bring more manufacturing jobs to our local community.

Why are you personally excited to be back in the studio?
I’m so excited to be back because the walls don’t feel like they’re caving in on me. I’ve missed the natural light and working with people again. And honestly just being outside of my house is a big win these days! 

And lastly, can you tell us a bit about some of your latest designs, launching on WMC?
These pieces are an extension of my Classics range. They are wardrobe staples that people can wear from year to year. They’re all 100% linen, so they’re made using long lasting fibres.  It’s the first time I’ve introduced dresses and skirts to my Classics Range. I wanted to make sure they were in line with the values of our Classics pieces: comfortable, long lasting and timeless. 

Shop the new Classics collection by Dominique Healy over here 

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