Designer interviews are the perfect opportunity to get closer to a brand and designer and learn more about their inspirations, motivations and designs. This time, we’ve chatted with Paolo Castro, the founder and creative director of Orocéo Castro, who told us how he started his career and where he imagines himself years from now.
Q. Give us a little insight into your creative background.
I (Paolo) studied fashion design in Melbourne and my sister (Ginny) is a fashion stylist. We collaborate, especially during the initial stages of developing a collection— sketching, fabric sourcing, colour choices, etc. I usually do the initial sketches, then Ginny checks the styling of the different pieces. We choose our colour ways and fabrics and then do the necessary revisions before we head into patternmaking and sample making.
Q. What/who was your influence when you started your own label?
It was really my mum and sister who unknowingly influenced me to start my label. I’ve always admired how they put together different looks. I used to go with them shopping and I remember the look on their faces when they find clothes that they really like and when they try them on as well. I’ve always found it amazing how clothes can affect the way people feel. Also, I have always known that I have a very strong preference to a certain aesthetic. So one day I was at a café with my sister Ginny and I finally mentioned that my life’s dream is to design clothes and have my own label. She said, ‘What’s stopping you?’ So I guess that’s how it all started. I studied fashion and when I graduated, we started the brand.
Q. What have been your key inspirations for your design and concepts?
Ginny and I are both lovers of history and architecture. Our latest collection, ‘Lady Goth’ was inspired by Gothic architecture. Our first collection, ‘Kundiman,’ was inspired by traditional Filipino love songs as well as Danish Golden Era portrait paintings. Both of us love to travel and we have lived in quite a few cities and places so we take inspiration from these as well.
Q. What is the essence of your label?
Orocéo Castro is all about bringing back elegant femininity. We believe that being sexy does not always mean showing excessive skin and that standing out from the crowd does not equate to wearing the loudest colours. In saying that, we love to explore different silhouettes and we like to breathe modernity to and reinterpret classics.
Our clothes are designed to help make a woman feel like a true lady whilst bringing out the best in her style and personality.
Q. Why does your fashion label stand out in this competitive industry?
We are not driven by trends so every piece we make is very unique.
Q. Are there enough opportunities for emerging designers to showcase their designs and enter this competitive industry?
There have been a few platforms and opportunities that specifically cater to emerging designers like us these past few years but it’s not nearly enough to make us really stand out from the sea of big and well established brands that seem to infiltrate even the smallest of towns here in Australia. There are a lot of amazing emerging labels here in Melbourne but unfortunately, big brands who do fast fashion still get most of the attention of consumers.
Q. Is the fashion industry campaigning enough for boutique labels and recognising emerging talent?
In Melbourne, some facets of the fashion industry are doing their best to put the spotlight on emerging talent but there are only a few of them and I personally think that the industry could do much more to support designers who are just starting out. I know a lot of fellow designers who have graduated from fashion school years ago and still haven’t found jobs, let alone start their own labels.
Q. Who is your ideal customer?
A lady who loves classic pieces and yet is not afraid to explore different silhouettes. She loves mixing and matching different garments and create many different looks but always looks polished and feminine. She loves going to art galleries and she appreciates history and art and is a true lady.
Q. Have you any plans to collaborate with other labels or brands?
Most definitely. Melbourne is teeming with amazing local brands and creatives. We always find it enriching to see our garments right beside another brand that has a totally different style and aesthetic to ours. It brings out a totally different and interesting side to our garments. At the moment, we are on the lookout for accessory designers who we could possibly collaborate with.
Q. What has been your most memorable success to date?
This is a tricky one because we hardly look back at our accomplishments as a brand. We are always hungry for more and always looking forward to new things and challenges. It has been very exciting to be part of a few fashion shows and be featured in different magazines but we feel that having repeat customers is our most memorable success to date.
Q. What has been the most challenging stage when bringing your fashion label into the industry?
Managing our budget has been the most difficult thing to do when starting out as a fashion label. Ginny and I are both creatives and perfectionists so we are naturally predisposed to being uncompromising when it comes finding the best materials, photos, etc for our brand but this is just not always possible, especially when you are just starting out. We are still learning to think as a business too as opposed to purely thinking as creatives.
Q. What is your fashion label’s signature style?
Modern preppy, polished, feminine, uptown.
Q. What are the key images you want to portray when people see or hear your brand name?
Frills, pretty skirts, Grace Kelly, art galleries, beautiful architecture
Q. How would you describe your personal style?
I (Paolo) tend to opt for simple silhouettes and darker hues. I love wearing buttoned shirts and chinos. Navy blue and khaki are a mainstay in my wardrobe. Ginny tends to go for looks that are put together, luxe and preppy.
Q. Modafirma celebrates and welcomes new fashion and emerging talent; tell us why you decided to join our exclusive social fashion platform?
We feel that it is a great opportunity for us to reach a global audience since Modafirma is an international and reputable platform. We love that it pays a lot of attention to supports emerging designers just like us and this is hard to come by.
Q. What is your hope for the future of the label?
We hope and aim to be a recognised brand not only in Australia but also overseas, focusing on the different fashion capitals of the world. We aim to open a physical store in Melbourne within the next few years and hopefully interstate and overseas as well.
Our Favourites From Orocéo Castro