In the lead-up to Cairns Fashion Week this June, we have chatted with some of the creative minds behind the upcoming runway shows, which are set to be at the forefront of Australian and international fashion, all set against the breathtaking backdrop of tropical Far North Queensland.

Label: Matilda Cove

Tell us a bit about your label.

Matilda Cove – the label

Inspired by, designed, and manufactured in Queensland, Australia. Eco-luxe swim and resort wear, Established in 2017 by two sisters Peggy Harkin & Challee O’Reilly. Inspired by Australia’s pristine natural environments and the quintessential Australian lifestyle that is authentically connected to outdoor activity.
Our garments are purposefully designed to be wearable across environments – from the beach to beyond! Our one-piece suits are not only perfect for swimming or relaxing on the beach but also double up as bodysuits which can be worn casually or for dressy occasions. Add a skirt or tailored pants, sling on a jacket, and you can wear our swimwear just about anywhere!

All our swimwear is designed and manufactured in Australia using recycled fabrics made from ocean waste – fishing nets and other ocean rubbish.
We are committed to a consciously eco-humanistic business model which means everything we do and everything we stand for involves a respect for the environment and for people, both individually and at a societal level.

We oppose mass production which depletes resources, exploits people, and ruins the environment. Instead, we believe in producing small batches, using ecologically responsible fabrics and trims, ensuring manufacturing workers are safe and appropriately paid, and that our marketing and images depict a realistic representation of healthy bodies.

We are also committed to using our success to give back to others. We do this through making regular donations to a range of charities, through working with emerging talents in manufacturing, modelling, and marketing to support their development and growth, and through collaborations with likeminded designers and manufacturers.

What has your journey been like to get to this point in your fashion career?

We developed and launched our swimwear label after more than 20 years of fashion retailing. We had owned and managed a boutique together but our careers had then diverged. Whilst we followed different vocational paths, and found success along the way, we stayed close and were waiting for the right time for both of us to join forces again and return to the fashion world that we both love. As we both live in sunny Queensland and enjoy an outdoors lifestyle with our families, we fell in love with the concept of Matilda Cove – a range of eco-luxe swimwear, designed and manufactured in Australia within an eco-humanistic business model.

As well as establishing a collection of more than a hundred swimwear design drawings, we completed a business plan and carefully mapped out a launch and development plan. We defined our respective roles, with Challee primarily concerned with creative design and the overall aesthetic, and Peggy managing the business end, marketing and finances. We then set about sourcing fabrics and identifying on-shore manufacturers with the skill to bring our creations to life.

Over the first 5 years since our launch, we have developed our website and online store, increased our profile via social media and print media marketing, we have participated in a number of fashion festivals including Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast Fashion Festival, Gold Coast Fashion Project & Local Runways for various charities and events. We have been busy with photoshoots, production meetings, marketing and ensuring our customers have a seamless and efficient interaction with our brand and that our swimwear is always of the highest quality. We have enjoyed engaging with our customers via our various online platforms and through our Cove Club which provides members special offers, giveaways and pre-release access to our new ranges.

In September we will be launching our 12th range which showcases an exclusive new print featuring tropical palms and a sleek cheetah. In 2024 we will be expanding into resort wear that complements and can be worn with our swimwear.

How did you come involved in the inaugural Cairns Fashion Week?

After receiving an email with the details of CFW we were excited to involved in part of Fashion history being the 1st CFW. We also jumped at the chance to showcase Matilda Cove to all the women of Cairns and FNQ.

Which Cairns Fashion Week event can fashion lovers attend to see your designs?

You can see Matilda Cove on the Catwalk Podium Swim Resort showcase at the 5-star luxury waterfront hotel Crystalbrook Riley with a runway over the pool Thursday 22nd June at 6.30pm.

What excites you most about Cairns Fashion Week?

We can’t think of a more ideal location than Cairns to showcase our swimwear label. We love the opportunity for people to see our designs as a collective and for them to observe how well coordinated and interchangeable our designs are. We are also keen to meet with Cairns retailers who share our business values and may wish to stock a swimwear label that is not only stylish and unique but also designed and manufactured here in Australia to exacting ecological and humanistic standards.

Get your ticketshereto see Matilda Cove and other talented designers at Cairns Fashion Week.

Fashion Weekly is proud to partner with Cairns Fashion Week to bring you these exclusive designer spotlights.

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