By Claudia Jambor
Laura Chong established her corporate workwear label, The 400 Co, in March last year to balance her creativity with her work as a corporate lawyer. One year later, the Brisbane lawyer turned fashion designer couldn’t imagine her designs would be showcasing on Mercedes-Benz Brisbane Fashion Festival catwalk. We caught up with Laura to chat about her whirl-wind journey as an emerging designer.
Tell us about what inspired you to create The 400 Co?
It was really a combination of a gap in the market for corporate fashion - and by "fashion" I mean clothing that allows women to express their personal style in the workplace. The other side of it was that I wanted something else to wear to work other than a boring grey suit.
What is The 400 Co?
When I was looking to create my label, I stumbled across a 19th century New York club, who called themselves “The 400”. The club consisted of the most fashion elite in society and that’s what I wanted my brand to represent because, to me, corporate women of today are the fashion elite.
What challenges have you faced as an emerging designer?
My challenge has been to take note of the things that are important to growing a business, discard the things that don't or shouldn't apply to my label. I need to remember to stay true to why the label started to begin with - it was all about making women feel empowered and not about selling at all.
Have you styled a celebrity?
I loved dressing Samantha Armytage from Channel 7's Sunrise. She is beautiful, confident and comfortable in her own skin.
The 400 Co will be showcasing at MBFF for the first time this year, are you excited?
So excited for MBFF! It's the first time we have been in a show of this calibre. It was a huge step towards being recognised by the fashion industry. I applied to be in the emerging designer's category. The MBFF organisers said that our application had been successful but that they thought our pieces would showcase more appropriately in the established designer's category. I didn't disagree!
What is the concept behind your Spring/summer collection, “Queen of the Jungle”?
The collection is inspired by strong women who aren’t afraid to stand up and be heard, it sends a powerful message to women in the corporate world to Roar and dominate the jungle out there!
What are you’re plans for The 400 Co post-MBFF?
Just in the next few months, we have a lot in the works.
Straight after MBFF we are holding a Pop Up Shop in the Winter Garden at Brisbane City. After opening our Winter Garden store, we will be involved in another big fashion show at city hall for Zonta to support the charity Anglicare's home away from homelessness new project.