WA duo paired with flair
Local fashion designers Nicole Hardie (left) and Issy Macauley. Picture: Iain Gillespie/ The West Australian

Ni Store is the phoenix that has risen from the ashes of two former Perth-based labels, Nikki Loueza and pinchandspoon. The brand name is taken from the designers' first initials but the minimalism and simplicity of the name also point towards the label's design aesthetic.

Relaxed fits, the draping and asymmetry associated with Japanese designers such as Yohji Yamamoto, a touch of androgyny and a limited palette of black, sand, grey and white define the burgeoning brand's approach, which offers a thoughtful alternative to Perth's typically colourful, beach-glam style.

"We wanted to create comfortable, versatile, quality garments that reflected our own style," explains one half of the design duo, Isobel Macaulay.

"We travel a bit for work, and we also work from our studio, hold events and go to a lot of meetings, so we wanted to create pieces that we can wear all day and be comfortable in but also stay true to our own individual style."

Macaulay is best known for her accessories label pinchandspoon, while Nicole Hardie's Nikki Loueza boutique stood at the Wellington Street end of King Street for several years before closing down last year.

"Nik and I had discussed the idea of going into a partnership on many occasions," Macaulay says.

"We've worked together in some capacity for the past three years, both managing and developing our own brands, so when the opportunity arose to create our own label it felt like a bit of a no-brainer."

Their first major collection consists primarily of fine cotton blends, used to create draped and cowled dresses, drop-crotch pants, gathered skirts and clever shirting options. Designed to be mixed, matched and layered so that pieces can work across the seasons, there is nothing in the way of print or embellishment to distract from the intense focus on drape and silhouette.

The range is available on the designers' website and e-commerce has been an important aspect from the very start of the brand's life but Macaulay says a bricks-and-mortar presence is still incredibly important, so that clients can get a feel for the fabrics and fit before buying.

"Later this month we are collaborating with the Orangery Gallery in Shenton Park on a showroom concept where clients can come in and view our stock before purchasing online," she says.

"The quality of our materials is very important to us and we want the customer to feel that. We're using a lot of cotton blends and materials that we've sourced ourselves from overseas fabric markets."

The brand is also already stocked in Sydney, Melbourne and online at bueboutique.com - not bad for a label that has been in existence just over six months. The plan for the next 12 months, Macaulay says, is to expand the label's presence in Melbourne, where they feel their dark, androgynous aesthetic will find a loyal following, and then look at showing their designs in New York next year.

In a sign of the design duo's commitment to collaborating with other Perth creatives, their first campaign was shot by local photographer Songy Knox, with a (faceless) model sporting body illustration by local henna art practitioners Desert Shadow.

"The concept was to create the brand's first aesthetic images in a way that reflects our androgynous direction," Macaulay says. "We're really excited about the results."

'We wanted to create pieces that we can wear all day and be comfortable in but also stay true to our individual style.'


The West Australian

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