While the Coast is famous for many things – beaches, pelicans, oysters, to name just a few – fashion hasn’t always been at the forefront.
But as the region is becoming increasingly chic, so too is the local style scene.
With a diverse collection of people calling the Coast home, the coastal lifestyle has its own unique set of needs and accompanying threads.
Here’s a handful of Central Coast designers who are making their mark on the local and international fashion scene.
Australian designer Weave Dibden Neck has called the Central Coast home for five years, launching her latest label, Ukiyo-Co, at the inaugural Central Coast Fashion Week in 2017.
The dainty Japanese word translates as ‘floating world’ and Weave says it’s the peace and space of the Coast that allowed her to create this clean and simple new collection.
The brunette beauty had always dreamed of calling New York home but has found her haven on the water at Green Point.
“Ukiyo-Co was born from the Coast. It was really inspired by the nature and freedom – it’s so clear here,” she said.
The chic loungewear collection features elegant whites and classic blacks in natural fabrics ranging from linen to silk and cotton to bamboo.
Dresses with dramatic lines are named after vintage actresses including Raquel (Welsh) and Bridget (Bardot) and are guaranteed to make any woman feel as glamorous as their namesake.
The collection is “wearable” with garments that are straight and simplistic, inspired by a minimalistic design philosophy – another salute to Weave’s love of all things Japanese.
The pieces in the Ukiyo-Co collection provide a base for women to get creative and are able to be dressed up or down. Just add heels, sneakers or sandals depending on the occasion.
The cotton white bib dress would look at home in a restaurant or a resort, and the “Bridget”, a black jersey one shoulder dress, looks different (and amazing) on just about every woman who dons it.
Look out for Weave online – the Ukiyo online boutique has just launched at www.ukiyo-co.com or shop Weave’s collection online at the Iconic.
It all began with a simple striped dress.
Emily Berlach had three young children and was sitting at her kitchen table sending emails all over the world while covered in Weet-Bix crumbs and bam, her homegrown label Bohemian Traders started to take off.
She admits it all began as somewhat of an accident. She was simply trying to curate ethically-made stylish boho pieces from all over the world, because it’s what she liked and wanted.
It was clever collaborations with the likes of They All Hate Us (one half of the trend-setting duo Elle Ferguson hails from the Coast) which cemented Boho Traders and that box cut slim sleeve black (or navy) striped dress which played the all-important leading role.
With Bohemian Traders transformed into a successful online clothing business, Emily bravely opened her first bricks-and-mortar store right here on the Coast.
The Erina store, which opened in 2016, has become a mecca for Coasties in search of boho chic wardrobe staples.
There is a lot of classic white, denim, and of course stripes.
But where the stripes made the brand famous, it’s now very much about the denim with the Bohemian Traders denim line launched in 2016.
From “mum” jeans to skinny leg and drop crotch to high waisted, the denim collection was created to provide flattering, cool and comfy jeans for women of all shapes and sizes.
With all jeans priced under $200, they’re good for the hip pocket while also making your hips look good.
Even with all this success, Em is still just a humble blonde Coastie gal clad in that classic combo of stripes and denim.
“Humility is engrained in you on the Coast. There’s no hoity toity and it’s not competitive. You are who you are and you just do your own thing,” she said.
Shop the collection online at www.bohemiantraders.com or visit the Erina Heights store.
Necessity is the mother of all invention and that’s exactly how Umina-based Skin and Bone was born.
When creator Jade Ashcroft got back into surfing in her 20s she couldn’t find a wetsuit that looked and felt good.
“I hated everything – they were all fluoro and neon. I thought, they (wetsuits) can be sexy,” she said.
Four years later, having moved from Manly to Umina Beach to be closer to her mum and grandma in Patonga, she has proved it’s possible.
Her wetsuit and swimwear collection consists of super sexy monochromatic pieces for women of all shapes and sizes who want to look good while they’re surfing, SUPing, swimming or sunbaking.
Using a combination of butter-soft smooth-skin neoprene and a rougher, more grippy, shark-skin neoprene, the Skin and Bone range includes long sleeve wetsuits for summer and winter as well as cozzies with plunging neck lines, strategically-placed cut outs to flatter any stomach and cheeky bums.
In stark contrast to the wetsuits of yesteryear, they are all sleek and black, having the desired effect of making their wearers feel like ‘Bond girls’.
According to Jade, “They’re not in fashion, but they won’t go out of fashion. They are classic, comfortable wetsuits.”
Wearing a baggy Harley Davidson t-shirt and with sandy locks falling around her face in waves, the 28-year-old is Drew Barrymore’s doppelganger (if the actress was a beach babe).
A graphic designer by day and fashion designer by night, Jade does it all from her renovated beach shack in the leafy streets of Umina with her trusty dog Bones as companion.
Her office is a coastal chic oasis with white-washed furniture, cacti the size of small children, an outdoor shower, caravan, longboards, hammocks and even a lemon tree in a canoe.
While Jade still calls Skin and Bone a passion project – even though it’s stocked around the country and has been shipped as far as South Korea and Miami – there is no doubt she’s making her mark on the Coast’s style scene.
Shop the collection online at www.skinandbone.com.au or visit Lucky Surf & Supply, Long Jetty.
You might have heard the name Kira Pizzingrilli around the traps, or while casually flipping through a Vogue.
Kira is a 27-year-old Ourimbah design dynamo who has been making waves with her Central Coast-based self-titled label since launching three years ago.
Having studied Fashion Design and Technology at Ultimo TAFE and spent years interning for Australian fashion labels, Kira’s style presents a modern design aesthetic whilst also complementing a classic feminine silhouette.
Her range includes sassy dresses, sweet swimmers and sheer skirts, as well as some fabulous statement pieces catering to the more adventurous fashion savvy shopper.
The born and bred Coastie says her childhood on the Coast definitely influenced her designs.
“The day-to-night wearability stems from a coastal lifestyle, we have such a relaxed way of life,” she said.
Echoing other local designers, she said the passion and support that stems from the local community is crucial to any young entrepreneur.
“The Central Coast is a tight knit community with a passion for buying local and supporting Central Coast businesses and young creatives. We thrive off supporting our own entrepreneurs and have great pride for those who find success. I think it’s this attitude that has nurtured my passion for staying local and manufacturing in Australia,” she said.
Shop the collection online at www.kirapizzingrilli.com or in store at Style on Point Terrigal.
It means ‘dream’ in Danish but ‘drom’ is very much centred around the essence of Central Coast living.
Created by a couple of babyboomers – Gary and Sheryle Berman – who relocated to the Coast when they had their daughter (who is now 19), drom is the Coast’s own surf and street wear brand.
You might have seen the brand’s distinctive Danish ‘o’ and monochromatic tones at local markets or during a stroll through Woy Woy where they opened their first store.
Now, just two years after launching the brand, you can shop drom in-store at Erina where they’ve had to relocate to bigger premises as the business booms.
For Gary, who was a hotel general manager with no experience in design, and Sheryle, who came from PR, it has been a wild ride navigating the avenues of production and fashion design but the result is a clean and simple label.
From tees and tanks to sleeveless hoodies and shorts, all the drom apparel is black or white except for the odd shade of grey.
It started with men’s wear and has grown to include women’s wear and a children’s range, though a lot of the boys clothing works just as well for girls. The designs of anchors, skulls, arrows and palm trees have been designed to appeal to both sexes.
Now that Gary and Sheryle have officially escaped the rat race and are living their dream, they are proud to support other ‘Coastepreneurs’ of all ages as they strive for their ‘drom’.
“Our dream was to establish the Coast’s own brand and while doing this try and assist others with their dreams by encouraging their talent,” Gary said. Drom has sponsored young Coastie talent from skaters to scooter riders and dancers to musicians.
Shop drom online or pop into their new store at 220 The Entrance Road, Erina.
After seeing how much money she could make from up-cycling an old surfboard, the laidback 22-year-old started Sarah Ashley Designs to make some extra cash while at university studying to be a teacher.
When she’s not doing arts and crafts in primary school classrooms around the Coast, you’ll find a paint-splotched Sarah at her Empire Bay home sanding, scraping, waxing and painting surfboards she’s picked up at garage sales or on gumtree.
Whether they are battered and bruised and no longer seaworthy or fresh off the factory floor, she meticulously transforms the boards into hand-painted works of art using house paint, permanent marker, marine lacquer and posca pens.
Some live out their life as artworks on a wall and others, which have been specially waterproofed, are carving up the coast’s beaches.
Sarah doesn’t have any professional art or design training. She grew up in Ettalong and worked in Umina cafes.
“It has been a lot of trial and error,” she explains.
Her first creations were cartoon caricatures of family painted on old surfboards around the house and then she flowed into mandala because she liked the symmetry of the Hindu and Buddhist symbols.
Which is perhaps why she also chose the style for a tattoo on her back – another Sarah Ashley original.
You’ll occasionally find Sarah at local markets or you can get a closer look at her custom-made mandala boards at Heavenly Gelato at Ettalong where her designs decorate the walls.
Get in touch with Sarah at www.facebook.com/sarahashleydesigns1/
Coastal Chic Tip: Look sleek and sexy this summer with a Skin and Bone wetsuit or swimsuit – enter coastalchic25 at checkout online to get 25 per cent off
You can also find this story in the summer issue of Coastal Lifestyle: https://online.fliphtml5.com/hzuc/mcyw/#p=13