Australian Fashion with a New York Edge

Australian Fashion with a New York Edge

How Violeta Tentomas brought her fashion expertise from the streets of New York to Australian shores to create West 14th.

By Caitlyn Spanner | 26th July 2016

Like a fine wine, leather stands the test of time and improves with age. This was Violeta Tentomas’ thinking when she created her label, West 14th; the ex-New Yorker employs her affinity for unique, high-quality leathers to create stunning investment pieces.

If not for an act of teenage rebellion, Violeta may have never got her start in the fashion industry at all.

“One afternoon instead of visiting a friend’s house we both took the train into NYC to explore,” she says, “I came across the Fashion Institute of Technology and after seeing all the fashion students rushing off to class, I knew I was meant to study fashion at this school. And so I did!”

During her degree in Fashion Merchandise Management, Violeta was determined to break into the industry, taking up internships with a number of businesses such as Henri Bendel, Nine West and Ralph Lauren. Upon graduating, Violeta landed a role in Ralph Lauren’s buying offices for womenswear and never looked back.

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The creation of West 14th has been a highlight in Violeta’s career; the label takes a quality-over-quantity approach to creating investment pieces that stand the test of time. Every woman needs a piece in her wardrobe that makes her feel stylish, comfortable and able to take on the world.

“Leather offers this investment,” says Violeta. “We wanted to create that forever-piece at an accessible price point.”

When Violeta started out, leather pieces weren’t available for under $1000. “We want to redefine leather in the marketplace with softness, price and design.”

And West 14th is definitely achieving this with unique leathers, techniques, textiles and colour palettes. Violeta also sources the highest quality leathers on the market, with lightweight cow leather from japan, lamb shearling form Iceland and Italy and supple goat leather form India.

For Violeta, leather is like armour or a second skin. “I feel confident, empowered and even edgy and fierce when I wear a leather jacket or pant.”

Violeta’s favourite thing about West 14th is that her pieces can be worn to a Fashion Week or to school pick-up. “The West 14th woman is me, it’s you, it’s my mum! She is a confident, smart woman who appreciates style and quality,” Violeta says.

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While Violeta’s career has gone from strength to strength, I had to ask why she chose to work on her label in Australia rather than in the fashion capital of the world, New York.

“I wanted to live on the beach!” Violeta says excitedly, “I was visiting a fellow ex-New Yorker (my bestie) for a New Year’s holiday and fell in love with Sydney.”

Her initial plans were to live in Sydney for maybe a year then move back to New York City. Eight years later, Violeta is still calling Australia home.

Violeta says there’s always something on the go and West 14th has plenty of exciting things to come in the future, with a new range launching in stores in August. Stay tuned!

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Article by Caitlyn Spanner

Caitlyn is just your average fashion-loving, coffee-drinking, story-writing, narcissistic millennial on the eternal search for the perfect t-shirt. On weekends you'll find her hanging with mates, enjoying an ice-cold cider or strong piccolo (depending on the weather), and searching for said perfect t-shirt. She has a passion for sustainable fashion and expressing her creativity in any way she can.

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