Zoe Lea has a passion for high quality, stunning design that goes well beyond those small tube shaped things you put on your feet – this lady has big plans and a great creative ethos! Unempire has a stand out online presence, and Small Talk & Co was super keen to meet Zoe in person to find out what drives this creative mind – community, fast fashion, and RiRi. N: slight language warning
Owner: Zoë Lea
Location: Melbourne, Victoria shipping to the world!
What you do?
I make socks through a teeny little business called Unempire. I’m hoping to branch out into other things in the near future, but baby steps right now. Before I did Unempire, I studied fashion design at TAFE and I worked for a bunch of other companies for nearly a decade, doing accessories design, accessories buying, and a bit of clothing and graphic design.
TAFE was great for technical skills in the fashion industry. In my first job, I was immediately useful; it was the same skills, the same programs. I learnt so much working for other people, because essentially you come out of study and you know so much, but you’ve got no idea what to do with it. My experience in accessories meant I knew my own business could be a success, so when I eventually became disillusioned with the bigger companies profit, profit, profit objective, I was confident in creating my own space to balance that out with a focus on design, quality and style.
Unempire merges all that experience with my total love/hate relationship with ‘fashion’, I hate trends and cookie cutter imitations, and I feel there’s just toooo much STUFF in the world. Unempire is about merging good design with quality apparel that lasts – I don’t think that you have to sacrifice one for the other.
Apparel can be reasonably priced, functional and unique. Essentially that’s the ethos behind the Unempire brand. It’s about bridging a gap in the current marketplace, which is dominated by three equally weak types; functional, but really boring, cheap and mediocre, or really cool looking but ultimately disposable.