Life’s greatest successes and achievements often result from whimsical beginnings. Such is the case for siblings Georgie and Alex Cleary, founders and owners of world-renowned Melbourne fashion label ALPHA60. The story of the label’s birth is as inspirational as it is simple. In the lead-up to attending a party, Alex complained to his sister that he had nothing to wear. In a quick-fix attempt to placate and settle her brother, Georgie screen-printed a simple design onto the pocket of one of Alex’s pre-existing collared shirts. While at the party, the duo received orders from three friends who were obviously impressed with the resulting garment. After the initial 3 orders, 10 more orders followed and then 50. The rest, as they say, is fashion history. This humble momentum drove the Clearys to secure a few small retailers and stockists around the city.
Despite this positive reception, however, ALPHA60 was still very much in what could be described as a hobby stage. So, at what point did the siblings realise that they were working within a legitimate and potentially prosperous business model? It was the moment ALPHA60 was invited to show as part of the Vivienne Westwood exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. Keeping company with fashion royalty is a fairly decent indicator that a label has experienced an official breakthrough. The NGA invitation did come with a catch, the catch being that Georgie and Alex were not equipped with a proper range of garments nor the knowledge of how to create one. The Clearys’ motto then, as it continues to be now, is that no idea is too big and all ideas are bound only by the imagination. Their only goal is to get the work done that needs to get done. It is that simple. Harnessing this spirit, the duo made it happen. The brother-sister team created ALPHA60’s first proper range and effectively paraded it as a “reverse requiem” during which the models were presented in coffins. The show received critical acclaim, resulting in invitations to showrooms in Paris and Japan and orders from stockists Liberty of London, Hong Kong’s IT and Lane Crawford. There was no doubt about it – Georgie and Alex had finally arrived on the world fashion stage.
The name ALPHA60 is inspired by Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 science-fiction classic, ‘Alphaville’. Not surprisingly, the star of the film – French actress Anna Karina – is Georgie Cleary’s personal muse. As such, ALPHA60 offers a fresh take on classic styles and cuts, which are punctuated by a celebrated “sophisticated quirk”. Generally speaking, the brand is defined by a mixture of creativity, business savvy and a fierce independence. It remains close to its roots, establishing its creative studio in the inner-city suburb of Collingwood, and strives to maintain a high degree of quality via direct-to-consumer sales. The high-quality garments of timeless and durable design and production are to be worn and cherished across multiple seasons and across all trends. The Siblings Cleary are committed to discovering innovative ways of limiting environmental impact and manufacturing their products within fair and safe guidelines. Furthermore, they are forever striving to improve the overall sustainability aspects of their processes and practices.
Visit ALPHA60’s 400m² Chapter House concept store and exhibition space – located at Level 2, 195 Flinders Lane – and experience the essence of a fashion label built upon the foundation of a very special sibling bond. According to Alex, “We’ve definitely both matured since we started out, and our real motivation for the business to succeed is so we can keep working together.” This quote is a glimpse into the extraordinary nature of this bond, a bond that has produced clothing designs that were added to the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Victoria and featured in its ‘200 Years of Australian Fashion’ exhibition. Consequently, ALPHA60 is now etched into the annals of Australian fashion. The Clearys believe that ALPHA60’s creative opportunities are endless. As a result, they will continue to push forward, all the while making certain to keep their feet on the ground and their heads in the clouds.