What Diversity in Fashion Means, According to Two of Australia's Top Designers

Sometimes it’s easy for us to forget that everyone needs inspiration, even designers. Personal style isn’t just something we are born with. Rather, it's a quality that is shaped by years of curation, experimentation, and self-discovery. A personal look isn’t so much a state of being as it is a reflection of the influences that affect an individual.

This is true for everyone, even the people who create the clothes that inspire the rest of us. So, it leads us to question: When you’re a designer, where does this inspiration come from? For the people creating the clothes, inspiration has to come from other places. 

To get some insight into how we can learn to cultivate our inspiration into something greater, we have turned to the women behind P.E. Nation, Pip Edwards and Claire Tregoning. Having developed into a brand that stands apart from the rest with its own unique look, P.E. Nation is the epitome of using influence to create something innovative. 

Obsessed with the brand as much as we are? Join us for our Who What Wear runway at VAMFF to see P.E. Nation on the runway. Secure your tickets at Ticketek.

To find out what inspires Edwards and Tregoning, and for more advice from the designers, keep reading:



WHO WHAT WEAR: How would you best describe your job?

PIP EDWARDS: Crazy busy, fun, creative and diverse.

CLAIRE TREGONING: Exciting and creatively fulfilling

WWW: How would you best describe your personal style?

PE & CT: Street-sport, tomboyish and lots of denim.

WWW: How does your ‘fashion uniform’ help define who you are?

PE: I can wear trainers and leggings and still feel as confident as I do in a dress and heels. I think fashion is an expression of who you are but it doesn’t necessarily define you. I lean towards more tomboyish styles but internally, fashion is meant to be fun and an extension of who you are so I wear what makes me feel great and makes me feel like me.

WWW: Over the years you have worked in the fashion industry, what has been most influential on your style?

CT: Tons of people and things have influenced my style; I think your environment being the biggest one. I mean, my day-to-day when working at Sass & Bide compared to now being at P.E has obviously changed. I think ultimately, wherever I have worked, I’ve always had a tomboy take on it because that element is true to my style, always.

WWW: What does diversity in fashion mean to you?

PE: Being brave, bold and unique. Just be who you are. Be different and trust your gut. It might be from your designs, to the models you use to the way you pull campaigns together. We have shot with a transgender and models of all races, ages and shapes—not as a deliberate stance for diversity but because we are inspired by different people for different reasons and we love to show that in the visual identity of P.E Nation. P.E Nation is for everyone.

WWW: Many women look up to you and the business you have created, what advice would you give your younger self?

PE: Learn everything you can in every role you work in. Realise that everything is a stepping stone towards the greater end. You’re never too big for the business you work for. There is a lesson in everything. But trust yourself, don’t wait for the 'right' moment, if you have done the work and are genuinely interested and passionate, you will get to where you want to be.

WWW: Your business is currently expanding overseas, what have been your biggest lessons in expansion?

CT: P.E Nation has grown so quickly, both locally and internationally. Our biggest lesson has been in structure and processes. As a start-up, we were still finding our feet internally when we landed some pretty big accounts, so we had to stop just 'doing' and create structure around how we were doing things.

WWW: What has been your ‘I’ve made it’ moment?

CT: I don’t know if we’ve ever felt like we’ve truly 'made it' but we’ve celebrated some incredible successes with P.E Nation—from our first collaboration with Reebok selling out in hours (the second has just launched), to being invited to showcase as part of the Net-A-Porter New Designer Series, to our debut MBFWA show, to winning the Best Emerging Australian Designer at the Australian Fashion Laureate, launching menswear exclusively with (it will then be available from P.E Nation and selected retailers from February 15), collaborating with New Era through to seeing the likes of Elle Macpherson, Hailey Baldwin and Sofia Richie in our brand. It’s been a huge two years!

WWW:  What have been the biggest challenges in setting up your own brand?

CT: We knew we had a great concept, a great product and a strong brand but it comes down to finding the right people and creating great structure and processes. It was a challenge to go from working in a business as creatives to working on the business as co-founders. We moved from creating great things to having to be across every department 100 percent.

WWW: Tell us, what is next for P.E. Nation?

PE: There are always things in pipeline for P.E—it’s all about innovating and keeping our customers excited, as we are non-stop, always want more, and so should they. Menswear launches on P.E Nation on February 15, our second collaboration trainer with Reebok (available in two colourways and both men’s and women’s sizes) is available now, we have a yoga capsule, a wider denim capsule and a couple of pretty epic global collabs planned to roll out this year. It’s a big year ahead.


Keep scrolling to shop our picks from P.E. Nation: 

Opening Image Credits: Getty Images