BEHIND THE SCENES: Kylie's tips for designing a textile print

Each Obus print since the brand began in 1998 is a product of Obus founder and creative director Kylie Zerbst's hand. So after twenty years, what has Kylie learned about the world of textile patterns? Here, she shares her top five tips for creating a killer fashion textile design.

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Consider the fabric
Across our collections, our original prints are often spread across our favourite fabrics - cotton jersey, viscose, bamboo/cotton, and linen. Choosing which print will work with which fabric is quite a considered part of the design process. Geometric designs and bold colours really ‘pop’ on jersey - TWO WORLDS is a great example of this - while the drape of Viscose only suits certain textile designs. Because we have moved towards digital printing for most of our textile designs - a method that is more environmentally friendly than screen printing - there is no limit to the colours we can use. However, a more textural fibre such a linen will suit a pattern that can mask or work with the natural slubs present in the fabric. It’s a big puzzle and the first challenge in designing a collection!
Play with scale
When designing a print for Obus, I spend quite a bit of time playing with scale. I love to make the features of a print really big - TELL ME A STORY is a good example of this. With a large scale print, it’s highly likely your Obus garment is completely unique, because every piece is cut from the fabric in a different place. Having said that, sometimes a smaller more detailed print can work just as well. WANDERER, a print that has undergone a few evolutions over our 20-year history, is a good example. Bigger is not always better (but it usually is ;))

Colour can make or break a print
Colour is a huge feature of our collections, and often I’ll review multiple colour options for a single print with my team before making a final decision. After so many years, I believe it’s often the thing that makes or breaks a print. I’m influenced by a range of things when devising the colour combinations across a collection - from current trends, to my own favourite hues… but I always aim for something unexpected. In combination with the textile design and fabric, the colours can really help take a garment to the next level!
Ensure your digital file is technically correct
Sketching, drawing, designing and refining a print concept is the fun part, but getting it onto fabric is quite a technical process! Each fabric and design requires digital artwork files to be set up in different way, and communication with our printers to get the best result is key. Sometimes colours that I see onscreen will look completely different printed on fabric, so the digital file setup has to work in reverse. It can be a headache at times! But when those first samples arrive and the print gets closer to ‘the real thing’, is one of my favourite parts of designing the collection.

Make it personal
There are millions of textile designs out there, but I truly believe the best designs come from the heart. Reviewing the prints I’ve created since Obus began for the LOVE OBUS collection was a moving experience. Each one is imbued with so much of Obus’ life story: the destination it was inspired by; something cultural I was curious about at the time; or even how difficult it was to bring the textile idea to life! Just like art, designing a textile print that relates to something you’ve seen, felt, experienced or are passionate about will always yield the best results. So let your mind wander and see what comes!
Shop all the latest Obus prints here. Images feature prints from our upcoming collection, launching soon!
August 27, 2018 by Obus Clothing

Interview: Kerryn & Kylie on collaboration and conscious fashion

Left-Right: Kylie Zerbst (Obus founder/creative director) and Kerryn Moscicki (Radical Yes founder/creative director)

The Obus x Radical Yes collab has launched, and we're thrilled to partner with this conscious Melbourne brand to bring you a range of comfortable, practical and beautiful statement shoes.

Both Obus and Radical Yes are fiercely independent, female-owned businesses, committed to creating high-quality products that last. Kylie Zerbst, Obus Creative Director, and Kerryn Moscicki, Radical Yes creative director talk about this values-aligned partnership, how their customers influence their designs, and the wardrobe items they keep returning to.

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Tell us about the idea behind this collaboration, and why does it make sense for Radical Yes and Obus to collaborate on this footwear range?
Kylie: Radical Yes had been on our radar for a while as a company committed to the ethics and environmental standards we value in our own business. We also really love their design sensibility and the way that their products transcend current trends. While we have always manufactured the majority of our clothing in Melbourne, it’s increasingly difficult to produce footwear here. We admire Radical Yes's dedication to responsible offshore manufacturing and producing in small quantities, like we do.
"We admire Radical Yes' dedication to responsible offshore manufacturing and producing in small quantities, like we do."
Kerryn: We were so floored when Obus came to us to talk about a footwear collaboration because we have always admired their work. For me personally, I have looked to them as an inspiring example of an iconic, independent Melbourne brand who have been doing their own thing and doing it well for a really long time. We believe our customers have a shared set of values and a similar aesthetic so the idea of using Obus palettes on our silhouettes was a no-brainer.
Kylie: Yes it’s been a dream collab - it doesn’t feel like work when they’ve made the whole process so easy!
Running your own businesses, can you take us through your approach to workwear? What’s essential to you?
Kerryn: Flat shoes! I walk to work and on the way drop my kids at kinder and school, so my workwear garments are very focused on functionality and pragmatism. My outfits tend to be very simple in palette mix - lots of navy, charcoal and camel tones - to help disguise the inevitable kid stains. But then some days I also love to be super comfortable in a vintage oversized knit and denims. The common theme is always a flat shoe.
Kylie: I love colour and pattern. Similar to Kerryn, the Obus studio is local to my neighbourhood and I’m often arriving to work after walking my son to school. For me, I dress to express my personality but also feel comfortable all day. I love accessorising a casual linen or wool pant with a chunky knit, tailored shirt and statement earrings. The clothing we make at Obus has women who want professional and versatile clothing as its primary focus - it’s fun to consider all the combinations an Obus collection can offer for workwear, especially with these shoes in the mix!
"It’s fun to consider all the combinations an Obus collection can offer for workwear, especially with these shoes in the mix!"
What do you think is the edge that small businesses in the fashion landscape have over the big players?
Kerryn: Being truly connected to the customer, having more empathy with their needs and lifestyles rather than pushing product for the sake of meeting 'stakeholder demands'. I believe you can tell when product has lost its purpose and is just filling an 'assortment matrix' to meet stock turn targets. Maybe it’s idealistic, but I believe this is why customers are seeking out and responding to smaller makers who are producing from a place of passion before profits.
Kylie: We’ve always been a small and agile team at Obus, and I think this has helped us weather a few storms over the past 20 years. We can be responsive to trends, to manufacturing snafus, and in communication with our customers. Like Kerryn says, we can also get to know our customers really well - our stores are a mainstay of Melbourne’s inner north, and getting to know our local customers over the years is a bigger part of our overall design process than they probably realise!
Both Obus and Radical Yes create quality products that are designed to transcend seasons and last the test of time. What’s a favourite item in your wardrobe that is still going strong?
Kylie: This Winter I’ve loved my Obus Cocoon coat from a few years ago. It’s a bold lilac purple, collarless cocoon coat and always gets lots of comments!
Kerryn: I have a few key items from our collections over the years. My 'Saturn Returns' trainers in wool lined shearling are a definite go-to in Winter. My 'Little & Often' Day Heels are also an easy slip on that I return to almost daily. They look ace with opaque tights and denims. Can’t wait to wear the new lilac ones Kylie dreamed up for us!

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August 02, 2018 by Obus Clothing

BEHIND THE SCENES: In the studio with stylist Nat Turnbull for Crumpler x Obus

What do you get when you cross half a dozen glass fishtanks, a whole lot of fresh flowers, and two of Melbourne's most creative women?

The answer is: a stunning lookbook! Obus' creative director Kylie Zerbst was thrilled to collaborate with acclaimed local stylist, Nat Turnbull, to create the stunning imagery for the CRUMPLER X OBUS collection.

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Kylie Zerbst (left) and Nat Turnbull

The photoshoot took the concept of contemporary ikebana floral styling to a new place, combining delicate glass fishtanks with floral arrangements by Hattie Molloy to create a dreamy, luxurious backdrop for the 8 Crumpler x Obus bag designs.

Each shot was meticulously styled using Nat's tricks of trade! Photography was in the capable hands of Scott Newett at Cubed Studio.

July 02, 2018 by Obus Clothing

HOW IT'S MADE: Fuyuko Duffle Coat


The character, style and quality of our new FUYUKO COAT is matched only by that of its very talented maker, Mark.

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Based in Melbourne's inner western suburbs, Mark's workshop is a hive of activity and houses some seriously cool industrial sewing machines. Mark has been specialising in high-end coat production for many years, and has a long history manufacturing for Obus. With his acute attention to detail and a love of all things classic (especially music!), it's no wonder we love having him make our clothes! Shop the FUYUKO COAT here.
When he's not making some of the most beautiful, considered coats around, Mark is a performer who travels all over Australia with his show that celebrates the music of Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley (insert cool shades emoji here).

June 19, 2018 by Obus Clothing

HOW IT'S MADE: Dyeing and milling our Merino Travellers

By now we’re sure you know that Obus makes over 80% of our clothing right here in Australia. But the making is only part of the equation. Ensuring that each part of the supply chain aligns with our ethical and environmental values is important to us too!

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Last year, we shared this post about our Merino Travellers. This year, as we continue to improve our manufacturing process and share it with you, we worked with a local business to mill and dye the Merino we use in our winter Traveller range.
Join us in a virtual tour of the Melbourne factory who process our Woolmark-certified Merino fabric and dye it in our delicious custom Obus colours.
The factory, located in an outer suburb of Melbourne, are an industry leader committed to low-impact high-quality Merino wool processing and dyeing. They LOVE Merino, and as Australia is the world’s biggest producer of fine Merino, they work closely with farmers to source the best quality fibres that tick the social, ethical and environmental demands we - as a business and as customers - put on them.

Employing around 65 locals, the factory believes that environment does not have to be sacrificed for quality. They strive to continually lower the impact normally associated with textile production. They even have an on-site water treatment plant, where a staggering 85% of the water used in the manufacturing is able to be reused! 
When the milling and dyeing is complete, our Merino is cut and sewn by our local makers into our tried and true TRAVELLER silhouettes, before joining other new arrivals on the shop floor. So by choosing Obus for your winter Merino layers, you’re choosing to support local makers and manufacturers - and low environmental impact - through and through! 
Shop all our Melbourne-made Travellers here.
June 13, 2018 by Obus Clothing

SCRAPBOOK: The surprising history of the pussy bow blouse

While many of the silhouettes from our Way of Flowers collection have been influenced by 1970s shapes and colours, our UME BLOUSE has one of the most interesting backstories.

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Made from Tencel, our UME BLOUSE is a long-sleeve, button-up shirt with a pussy bow collar. This classic style is a staple item in many wardrobes. But have you ever wondered: why ‘pussy bow’?
One of the earliest appearances of the term is from the 1930s, connecting the feature to the kind of bow tied to the necks of actual cats and kittens as an identifier (!). But thanks to trailblazers such as YSL and Coco Chanel, in the 1960s this floppy neck tie started to take on a new life as strong, independent women began to own the look (hello, Sofia Loren, Grace Kelly, and Peggy & Joan from Mad Men!).

Throughout the 1980s, when women started to assert themselves at work - and in particular the board room - the ‘power-dressing’ pussy bow (combined with those ever-present shoulder pads!) was the equivalent to the male shirt and tie.
More recently, the pussy bow has had a resurgence and become a symbol of alliance with women at the forefront of media politics around the world. Sara Danius, literary scholar and head of the Swedish Academy, often wore the pussy bow as part of her ‘work uniform’. When she was unceremoniously ousted from the Academy after it was engulfed in a #metoo scandal, women across the country began sporting the look as a solidarity move. And who could forget those pussy remarks in 2016, the ones that sparked so many protests around the world? Is Melania sending a message? I guess we’ll have to wait for a tell-all memoir...
So when you take your Obus UME BLOUSE out on the town, don’t forget that you’re standing with generations of women before you. Wear it with pride, and know it will never go out of style.

May 31, 2018 by Obus Clothing
Tags: scrapbook

Our signature prints in development

Like all our prints, Kado was developed by our fearless leader (founder and creative director), Kylie Zerbst, as part of our most recent collection, Way of Flowers.

Inspired by crysanthemum flowers and contemporary ikebana, Kado is accented with mauve, burgundy, and potent orange accents - A true Obus classic.

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Shop all KADO styles - including our CRUMPLER X OBUS accessories collection now! 

May 15, 2018 by Obus Clothing

How to help women and children on Nauru

Obus is doing something a bit different for Mother's Day this year! We're facilitating donations of much-needed clothing, food, vitamins, and educational resources to be sent to the women and children being detained on the island of Nauru.

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It’s a cause the whole team at Obus are passionate about. As a business, we regularly support social enterprises and initiate fundraising campaigns, mobilising our community of kind-hearted customers and followers. In partnering with We Care Nauru and Gifts for Manus & Nauru, we hope to make Mother's Day a bit brighter for these families.

Images from We Care Nauru used with permission.

There are two ways you can donate:
Pop into any of our stores with one of the above items and get 20% off your Obus purchase (suggested donation value: $25).
Donate online and get 20% off your Obus purchase (discount will be applied at checkout).
Donate before Mothers Day, Sunday 13 May, to get your discount; and help us send a big box of goodies to the families on Nauru!
May 02, 2018 by Obus Clothing
Tags: Community

Fashion Revolution Week starts at home with Obus

If you’re a long-time lover of Obus, you’ll know we’ve always been committed to local manufacturing.

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After almost 20 years, we’re proud to say 80% of our garments are still made here in Australia, by a family business we’ve worked with for years. Where each and every item is made is listed in its description, and you can link right through to our full manufacturing, environmental & social impact information page from our home page too.

Obus clothing made in Melbourne, featuring environmentally friendly fabrics such as cotton, Tencel, and Bamboo. In recent years, we've moved from screenprinting to digital printing for our original textile designs, as this process uses less water and resources overall.

It’s exciting to update this info with each new collection and product we develop, finding accredited suppliers who aren’t hurting the earth (or the people on it!). Last year, we blogged about our eco-friendly Australian-made swimwear, as well as our ethically sourced Merino.

Obus swimwear (left) is manufactured in Sydney from fabric made of regenerated post-consumer waste such as carpets, clothing and fishing nets. Our MERINO TRAVELLERS (right), are made in Melbourne from wool that complies with strict ethical and environmental standards.

There’s always more to do on a #fashionrevolution journey, but we like to start at home. For more about Fashion Revolution and their impact around the globe, visit their website.
April 26, 2018 by Obus Clothing

OBUS LADIES: International Women's Day

Obus is a tight-knit team of inspiring, passionate women. We're proud to be a female owned and run business, offering support and flexibility to our team so they can pursue their studies and passions.

This International Women's Day, we want to introduce to you some of the women who work part-time in our four stores. When they're not helping you, these Obus ladies are changing the world in small but meaningful ways!

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Ali Rogerson

How do you spend your time when you’re not at Obus?
I'm currently studying full time at RMIT, finishing up my Associate Degree in Fashion Design and Technology. I am passionate about local manufacture & sustainable fashion, which is why I love working at Obus! I love sewing and also used to run Charlie Bird Clothing, which was so fun.
Outside of work I am a board member for Big Little Brush which is an environmental and social enterprise who work with sustainable bamboo products and support heath projects in disadvantaged communities.
How do you spend your down time?
I enjoy and eating and cooking (especially the eating), drinking gin with friends and dancing the night away.
What do you sing along loudly to?
My current favourite, which you may catch me pumping and singing along to in store, is 'Dancing on my Own' by Robyn.

Caz Butler

What do you do when you're not at Obus?
This year I am finishing my Bachelor of Health Science in Chinese medicine which includes both acupuncture and herbal medicine. I also assist practitioners in two different clinics and throw surprise parties... I don't really do things by halves.
Tell us a bit about other things you're interested in...
Gee, at the moment I'm pretty single-minded! Chinese medicine is such a HUGE topic so most of my down-time I'm studying. Right now, I'm studying the classical texts a lot which were written a couple of thousand years ago. In my past life I studied theatre and had a real partiality for Shakespeare, so the beauty of the old texts speaks to my literature-liking brain. Oh! And I'm getting right into studying acupuncture and herbal medicine for women's health too! If I can help people have a good period, I'll be a happy lady. All that, or watching Queer Eye.
What do you sing along loudly to?
Whatever it is, it's in the shower or in the car. That Gaga doco got me choosing Bad Romance for a karaoke song, which was a good moment after a few margaritas.


Jess Harris

What do you do when you're not at Obus?
I am an actress, screen writer and director. I work in TV, mainly comedy. I currently have a web series called WINE, but my main experience was gained though a series I made a while ago for ABC2 called Twentysomething which can now be found on Netflix.
Outside of acting, what else are you interested in?
I am passionate about being as healthy as I can be, both inside and out. I run, cycle, do gym classes, yoga and follow a vegan diet. I like to cook for friends and family and show them how great healthy food can taste. I love going to music festivals in my orange 1972 Kombi - Meredith, Golden Plains and Boogie are my favourites. Oh and I am a Bloody Mary enthusiast - pickle juice is a great secret ingredient.
What do you sing along loudly to?
No judgement, this is a safe space... I love to belt it to Michael Bolton's ‘How can we be lovers if we can't be friends?’.


Harriet Hunt

What do you do when you're not at Obus?
I’m studying for my final year of a midwifery degree. I spend most of my time hanging out with mums, talking about cervixes, or cuddling babies. I am lucky enough to meet so many beautiful families through my study, and just love being present at such a wonderful and life-altering moment, when consciousness enters the world. I’m the student board member on the Victorian Branch Australian College of Midwives, where I get to work with lots of inspiring midwives and learn from their passion, experience, and drive! We offer scholarships and provide education opportunities for undergraduate and registered midwives around Victoria, and more generally work to shine light on the value of midwifery practice. I’m also a knitter who has approximately one million projects at any one time, so that’s an ongoing thing.
What is your favourite place you’ve ever travelled to?
Venice - I spent a month there studying and grew deeply invested in its history and architecture. Byzantine art rules!
What do you sing along loudly to?
‘Both Sides, Now’, Joni Mitchell. My sister and I are hardcore Joni fans who insist on hitting ALL the notes.  


Ella Wilkinson

What do you do when you're not at obus?
I'm into my second year of the Master of Environment in Climate Change and Development. Even more specific I focus a lot on disasters and how women are disproportionately affected.
I also volunteer at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in their Foodbank. The Foodbank provides groceries for over 600 people seeking asylum each week. I get to meet some pretty incredible, strong, resilient people. I've also started to help out sometimes at the Foodbank's Harvest of Hope veggie garden!
I have also volunteered with the not-for-profit Climates an organisation that aims to empower communities across the Australia-Pacific region to take accountability and address our climate challenges together. We have projects over in the Pacific but also host some great panel discussion and conversation events here in Melbourne.
What is your favourite place you’ve ever travelled to?
Paris is my favourite city in the world, I will forever go back and keep visiting Paris. Although, I have been very lucky when it comes to places I've travelled; South-East Asia, Europe, China, Morocco, South Africa, Japan. The next place on my wish list is India!
What do you sing along loudly to?
The poppiest of pop music, I can't help it.


Tori Day

What are you doing when you’re not at obus?
Taking photographs! I finished studying Fine Art last year, so this year I've been growing my artistic photography business. Most of my content revolves around the female experience and exploring that through both nude photography and self portraiture.
What is your favourite place you’ve ever travelled to?
Granada in Spain.. such beautiful food, architecture and a real bohemian vibe.
I sing loudly along to…
Any 90's classics, Michael Jackson and Rihanna!


Thank you ladies, we’re so proud to call you our friends and colleagues!
Next time you’re in Northcote, Melbourne City, Fitzroy or Brunswick East, pop in and say hi to these awesome chicks. And thanks for supporting women led and run businesses!
March 08, 2018 by Obus Clothing