Retro vibes & Hollywood glam

Fashion designers Alie Jane and Bree-Lacey love bright colours and vintage inspired designs, yet each of them creates pieces in a unique aesthetic that is all their own.

Both Bree-Lacey and Alie Jane love to create colourful, retro fashion and accessories. They dared to follow their passion and began creating pieces for themselves, friends and family. They progressed to selling their creations at local markets before they took the plunge and opened their own brick and mortar stores. Today, they are retail neighbours on Hunter Street in Newcastle’s East End, always happy to lend each other a hand or to work out the details of a particularly tricky piece of sewing. But that is where the similarities end and their very different, individual design philosophies take over.

Alie Jane Travel Accessories and Designs is the tangible expression of founder and designer Alison Bodman’s love for travel and colour. Her store is a riot of bright oranges, greens, yellows and reds, a one-stop shop for funky, unique travel accessories from money belts to shower caps or travel journals. There’s reversible sun hats and hot water bottle covers, toiletry and lunch bags.

“I found that most travel items came in either beige or black and I wanted to create something that was unique and colourful,” says Alie Jane, who started her career as a photographer, spending a lot of time in the darkroom, developing images.

“I’d completed an advanced diploma and a uni degree in fine arts, and I loved it. It was all based around fashion, but I didn’t even know how to sew,” she admits.

So, she signed up for a TAFE course in clothing production, and even though she loathed the lack of creativity (“You had to do everything to the mil.”), she was so keen to take it all in, she didn’t miss a single day.

“I just love to create, to make things. I like to try new things and often get inspiration from customer requests too.

“I’m not into doing clothing but I enjoy creating practical things with a retro-vibe. The journal covers started as a way to use my fabric scraps and then they took off. At the beginning of the pandemic, a customer asked me to make her a face mask, and they became really popular too.”

Beyond her core travel range, Alie Jane has expanded into homewares (think tea towels, tea and microwave bowl cosies, cushions, peg baskets or glass covers) and dog accessories. With all of her products available in different, unique patterns and colours, customers often end up buying multiple versions.

Alie Jane creates about 90% of her stock in store, sewing up a storm at her industrial sewing machine – always under the watchful eye of Geoffrey the rescue dog who loves to relax behind the counter, hoping for the occasional belly rub.

Aprons are amongst the most popular products from other local makers she carries in store. She also stocks a wide range of Japanese fabrics and Mexican oilcloth and is the biggest stockist of Japanese fabric in the Hunter Valley, Newcastle and Central Coast.

Click here to read about Bree-Lacey and her charming, vintage-inspired fashion collections.

291 Hunter Street, Newcastle East. Monday 10am – 5pm, Tuesday to Friday 9am – 5pm, Saturday 10am – 3pm

Story by Cornelia Schulze, photography by Frank Schulze