When the email arrived informing Abby Potter that she’d been invited to showcase her House of Campbell label at September's New York Fashion Week , the city-based designer very humbly thought it was a hoax. Thankfully, a little investigation quickly confirmed that the news of this unexpected and incredible opportunity was very real.
So exactly how does a relatively new label from Adelaide, launched less than a year ago, get the attention of ‘those in the New York know’?
“To be honest, it was infamous ‘Adelaide connection’”, said Abby. “We showed Heroine – our debut collection – on a runway in Adelaide, which then was tagged by someone on Instagram, who tagged someone else and tagged by others in the industry – and the rest, as they say, is history. Fashion Palette, an agency that supports and promotes emerging Australian designers, got in touch and offered us an opportunity as a part of their New York show.”
Creative Director Abby Potter
On 8 September, House of Campbell will show Heroine as a part of Fashion Palette’s runway at Pier 59 Studios in Chelsea.
“We’re taking the opportunity to network and explore export conventions, which run as a part of New York Fashion Week,” said Abby. “To let in you on a secret, we’re also working away on a few little projects in the Big Apple and we can’t wait to share them with our following back home!”
Abby’s relationship with clothing and design was “love at first thread”, starting over 20 years ago when, as a young girl, she was taught how to sew by her grandmother Annie Campbell – who her label honours.
“Migrating to Australia from Glasgow, Scotland, our Nan settled in Adelaide where she worked as the local neighbourhood seamstress in her spare time. She had the original side-hustle!” said Abby.
“Annie’s migration story, and the solace she found in using raw Australian materials to recreate the glamour she so missed about Glasgow, is a huge inspiration to me. She has been, and remains, an incredible mentor and support for House of Campbell.”
Launching her own label in late 2018 was anything but an overnight decision for Abby.
“Throughout my teens, I threw myself into work experience – working with a range of designers with various specialities, before completing my diploma with TAFE SA a few years ago. From there, I was fortunate to land a role at Australian Fashion Labels, working with brands including C/MEO Collective and The Fifth Label.
“There’s no doubt I was very lucky to be working in the industry, especially in Adelaide. But, increasingly, I couldn’t shake this niggling feeling which would eventually become House of Campbell.
"I can honestly say there’s no convenient time to go it alone! It was a huge leap. However, after a year of preparation, we pre-launched our first collection, Heroine, last November – and I haven’t looked back since!”
Abby describes the House of Campbell look as “bold, playful and powerful” and inspired by iconic innovators like Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel and Christian Dior, whose designs celebrate women and embrace their form.
“We firmly believe in striking but accessible designs, which are crafted to suit diverse women of different shapes and lifestyles. If it makes a statement and fits like a glove, it’s House of Campbell.”
With her design studio based in the city's stunning heritage Epworth Building in Pirie Street, Abby has been able to benefit from practical and free business support from the City of Adelaide’s Business Advisory Service.
“The City of Adelaide has been an invaluable source of advice! From day dot, they’ve made themselves available to answer any funding questions and have kept me in the loop with any developments or information relevant to our business. Even now, I feel very connected to what is happening in my sector and my city, through regular communication and assistance from Town Hall.” Abby Potter, Creative Director, House of Campbell
The New York opportunity is easily a dream come true for Abby, but one she has earned through determination and innovation.
“Being able to show my clothes amongst the best in the business is an incredible honour. Australian designers, and South Australians in particular, have a proud history on the international stage. To be able to walk in the steps of designers I adore, like Adelaide’s own Paolo Sebastian, is a huge deal for me. I’m consistently pinching myself – I’ve got the bruises to prove it!”
If you operate an established business in the city or are thinking about starting a new enterprise, the City of Adelaide’s Business Advisors – Sergio Mattiazzo and Brian Jackway – are an excellent source of free, practical advice – just head to their website to find out more and book in an appointment.