There are many ways you can support local fashion creatives, and here is one – let me take you through the process of having a dress created by Robyn Ready, The Maya Dress..
How did I hear about Robyn?
When I was looking for fashion professionals to connect with as part of developing my business concept, a fabric supplier suggested me to get in touch with Robyn. So I did. Then, I went to the La Trobe Popup market in Paddington, where for the first time I met Robyn in person and got the chance to see her designs.
Why did I choose to get something made by Robyn?
I had a chat with Robyn. She was nice (which I always value but more about customer service another time) and she spent some time talking me through her way of working, the garments and I quickly tried some pieces to get an idea of the clothing, sizes and styles to my body shape and preference. It was clear to me fairly quickly that Robyn was very skilled and being trained as a pattern maker. Having worked for a bridal business, I believed she knew what she was doing professionally and the designs also reflected this. Another factor was that Robyn creates make to order pieces, which means you can find one of her designs that you like and then she will create it for you in your size (she has standard sizes to choose between and she can guide you if needed, based on your measurements). You can, for example, get a different fabric, have smaller changes made to the design or you can simply choose an existing created garment.
See pictures of The Maya Dress further down the page but here is the design, which can be created in different styles.
The process of creating the dress…
So, I went home and checked out some more of Robyn’s designs online and I gained an idea of which styles I was interested in – I just knew I wanted a dress.
When I visited her home studio in Ashgrove (Brisbane), she took my measurements and I decided which one of the designs that I liked the best. We then talked about fabric, after which she said she would get back to me with pictures of what was currently available or coming in.
So she did but then I realised I was pregnant shortly afterwards and it would be silly to order a dress that I couldn’t nurse in. After some time I got in touch with her again because perhaps we could make some changes to a dress and that way make it suitable for breastfeeding when going out. Not a problem. We could look at some options so I jumped online to look for ideas for openings at the front and then I looked at my current nursing dresses for inspiration. We then decided how to make some changes (and I was aware it had to be possible to use with a current design of hers).
Regarding fabric, this time I decided to go with one that Robyn had used before for this type of design after she contacted me about fabric options. This can sometimes depend on what currently is available from the fabric supplier, which also means they are more unique if you prefer to have something that not many other people have.
I then visited Robyn again to try the dress on before she made the final adjustments with the nursing details (you don’t always have to come back, it was more in this case when we altered it slightly).
Then next time, the pick up! And so I did and it was ready to be worn…
To sum up, the process depends on whether it’s purely made-to-order or whether there is also an element of made-to-measure in the purchase. For me, with a combination of these, it meant following:
1. Visiting her to go through nursing options (on top of email conversations about this)
2. Choosing / approving fabric options – we did it online as I could see pictures from previous similar styles and I knew that type of colour would go with my tone)
3. Visiting again to try on…
4. Picking up my new dress!
A simpler version is simply to order from what’s shown online and then picking it up or having it shipped (in fact, Robyn also sells quite a bit to the US).
If you want to see fabrics available, you would just have to add one more visit to the above mentioned steps unless you decide based on the ideas that Robyn is sending images of to you online – it depends on whether you want to see and feel the fabric or not.
If you prefer to have a garment shipped, the prices are as follows:
$5.00 – Australia wide
$15.00 – the US and the UK.
Shipping can be arranged to other parts of the world (please contact Robyn for a quote).
Returns are accepted (shipping costs paid by customer).
Depending on the type of order, then turnaround time varies (if it’s a made-to-order, turnaround time is on average two weeks).
Where is the fashion brand at?
Robyn created the brand ‘Robyn Ready’ around 2008 and has since developed it to be a made-to-order business (and there can be made-to-measure in there too on a simple level). As a trained pattern maker, she’s very skilled and describes her business concept as “wearable – affordable – clean lines and beautiful fabrics”, which makes it accessible for many. She is in the process of building her online presence but currently the best place to get in touch with her is through Instagram and Etsy, also to see designs and what’s currently happening.
What’s unique about Robyn Ready?
The designs and styles are created in such a way that you can easily fit different sizes for the same design, because it sits on the body easily while still looking good. Great for online shoppers and in fact Robyn’s return rate is very low.
Four things to remember as a customer…
1. You can’t just pick whatever fabric type you like and bring it for a design, it has to go with the type of design, which is also partly why Robyn suggests fabrics. Mine is 100 per cent polyester (wash care label inside).
2. If your design isn’t standard from the online options, remember to ask, discuss and agree on a price / price level before starting the process. The full price of the dress with maternity alteration is $165 but as a normal dress it’s $145 (this may vary depending on price of the fabric chosen).
3. Check out or ask about payment methods available to avoid doubts about this. I received an invoice and paid online from home but in this case payment can be cash, invoiced for direct deposit or PayPal.
4. Remember to ask about design details, for example if you can choose how to close the design at the back of the neck like in this case for the garment. I just went with the choice of buttons as this would be most suitable for a dress to nurse in (different closures can be used, the original dress had a tie back neck). As a customer, you could also talk with Robyn about what buttons you like or how to arrange that.
Here it is – my new dress!
Here you see the end result in full from Robyn’s Instagram account. This dress can also be made as a top as imaged in the top of this post, or a maxi dress, with short or long sleeves and with or without a collar (see more images on Robyn’s Instagram account).
I’m very happy with my new dress and I plan to keep it for a long time, not just for times it can be used for nursing. And who knows, perhaps I would like it to be tweaked somehow after I finish breastfeeding but it can easily be used as it is, which I definitely plan to. Like other garments, sometimes you have to get used to wearing something new. In fact, every time I have worn it, I like it more and more.
Also, I tend to ask people about the dress when I’m out and one said it looked like a type of dress from Country Road or Witchery. Another person commented on it without me asking anything and when I have looked for new accessories, assistants would be like “that’s a perfect colour for your dress” if I was wearing it at the time I was browsing around.
If this has spiked your interest or whether you are curious to know more, check out Robyn Ready in the FID Directory, where you can find contact details, know where to meet her and links to online sites etc. (keep in mind, the directory profiles are still being developed).
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and please leave comments and feedback – I will reply to them all.
As this is the first blog post about how to go about ordering a creation, please feel free to let us know if you want someone to be featured, if you know someone who does or tell your story about an experience with a fashion creative.
Mathilde Bach Stougaard is the Founder and Creative Director of FID.