Nice Rack! Inside Anna Cordell’s Splendid World Of Silk, Suits and Singers

At the risk of stating the obvious, the clothes we wear matter. And not just in the sense of sartorial splendour and self-expression, but for those across the supply chain and beyond working towards a more sustainable fashion future. To celebrate these creatives putting people and planet first, we’re introducing a new digital series called Nice Rack! (… get it) so we can go behind the seams with some of our favourite sustainable brands, together. 

This week, we’re venturing into the world of marvellous suits and musicians with Melbourne’s Anna Cordell. With an impressive track record dressing the likes of national treasures Courtney Barnett and Missy Higgins, Anna has recently opened a new bricks-and-mortar – the designer’s vintage-inspired, Melbourne-made designs cementing her as a favourite for the stage and the street alike.

Tell us about yourself…

I’m a musician and designer who has weaved my way through both of these industries for the past 15 years while raising my five daughters. I fell into fashion after I quit music school to have my first daughter… making reworked vintage clothing to sell at markets to begin with, but eventually opening my own store in St Kilda while designing upcycled clothing for Sportsgirl and selling my own brand at boutiques around Australia. 

By that stage, I had three kids and we wanted to make a tree-change so I stopped everything completely to be home with the kids full time. That’s when the music came back to me in a dramatic way. I then spent the next few years with the kids but working more and more on my music. I released a single and an EP, then just before COVID hit, my first record. 

To fund the record, I decided to do a little designing again – and in the first range, I had a corduroy suit that completely took on a life of its own! I began making them for musicians to wear on stage, and over time more and more people wanted their own version so, through word of mouth, the suit became the centrepiece of the label. I decided to see where it would all head and work in my own time –no “seasons”, everything made to order and done with a focus on low waste and slow fashion. 

‘Sustainable’ has to incorporate ethically made garments, but to me personally with my brand, it also means sustaining the local industry.

What does sustainable fashion mean to you?

It means creating clothing that has a low impact on the environment and the people in the industry. ‘Sustainable’ has to incorporate ethically made garments, but to me personally with my brand, it also means sustaining the local industry, not letting that die out so we are forced to go offshore. 

There are plenty of ethical and sustainable ways to have things made overseas, of course, but I really love the idea of having my clothing made right here. It feels very special and I think that filters through to the clothing. 

Sustainable fashion won’t work if it’s lacking flavour. People need to feel enthusiastic about their garments – enough to save up and have a piece that they will love so much that they will be happy to wear and re-wear, care for properly and repair because they want it to last. 

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