Remember the name – Salita Matthews. The 28 -year-old’s designs are already gracing the glossy pages of Harper’s Bazaar and In Style and it’s not difficult to see why. This Sunshine Coast-based designer is influenced by her family’s Thai heritage and combines her love of texture and detail to create unusual pieces that will turn heads. I caught up with Salita at the launch of her summer collection at Faye Rolph Models, just days before she was due to fly out to Bangkok to oversee the collection’s manufacturing in Thailand.
Describe the essence of Salita Matthews:
All the pieces that I create are pieces which I envision myself wearing. It’s basically an extension of my own personal wardrobe, slightly adapted to suit a wider audience. I love texture and detail and creating beautiful, unusual pieces which can be dressed up with pieces from other labels to create a unique and personal look.
What or who are your three greatest influences?
My main influence would most definitely be my mum. She has influenced me in many ways from my sense of culture, to my tastes in fashion, to motivating me every day to do what I’m doing.
My second influence would be from travel and the joys of experiencing living in different places. I spend a lot of my year living in Bangkok and thrive on the hustle and bustle as well as energy of the city. Living on the Sunshine Coast (Queensland, Australia) is the total opposite of that mood, but it also gives me space to clear my head. Travel to other destinations around the world also opens up my eyes to life outside my own personal bubble.
My third influence would be the textiles market in Bangkok. Being around so many beautiful fabrics, trims and embellishments is so exciting for me as a designer and I get so inspired by seeing all the colours and feeling the different textures.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
I think that most of my pieces show a high attention to detail: whether that be a hand stitch, silk embroidery, or the juxtaposition of different textures. It’s a small way of bringing a little bit of luxury into your life and an easy way to bring an outfit together – with a highlight from one of my pieces.
One of your pieces has just appeared in Harper’s Bazaar – was that an amazing thrill?
To appear in Harper’s Bazaar was definitely a thrill for me! All my life I have read the magazine and ogled all the amazing designs. I never would have thought that I was going to appear in it so soon in my career.
At the collection launch you talked about your team in Thailand … tell me about your connections there and how that has helped you to create the pieces that you do?
Through my Thai heritage from my mother, Thai is my first language. Being able to communicate with all of my team over there helps me immensely and allows for me to meet the right people who can help me out. I wouldn’t be able to do any of my collection if it wasn’t for my amazing team of skilled craftspeople in Thailand. I have teams of seamstresses, patternmakers, dressmakers, jewellery makers and shoe makers. They are all truly creative and talented in their own right and help bring my visions to life.
When did you first realise that fashion design was what you wanted to do?
I’d always sewn and created outfits for myself growing up and it wasn’t until a couple of years after high school that I decided to take up the study of fashion design. However, as I was still in my early 20s when I finished, I wasn’t really interested in carving out any sort of career for myself and was mainly interested in travelling and living overseas. All the jobs I ever picked up after that were fashion related and so, it pretty much fell into place that this was what I was going to be doing. I didn’t want to work for someone else for the rest of my life and preferred an autonomous role where I didn’t have to deal with too many people and it seemed like the perfect situation to merge my desire to create and travel at the same time.
What’s next for Salita Matthews?
What’s next is that I’m off to Thailand now to commence production on my summer collection and also start sampling for winter next year. I’m looking forward to getting away from the cold winter weather!
Where are you now stocked around the Australia?
Currently, I am stocked in The Tribune in Brisbane. As of September (the collection pictured below will be available then), I will be also be stocked at: Joy Hysteric; Luby’s Angel, Paddington, Sydney, NSW; La Luna, Cronulla, Sydney, NSW; Ruby and Min, Woollahra, Sydney, NSW; Fame Agenda, Melbourne CBD, VIC ; Periscope, Perth WA