Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Paintbrush Skirt with Anita

My sister Anita has recently become one of the first owners of our Paintbrush Skirt. She has a background in finance and banking, has an adorable one year old son and lives in London - a completely different lifestyle to myself. So I was keen to see from her how she would wear and incorporate the Paintbrush Skirt into her existing closet - I asked her to share a few snaps.

Anita: The thing which attracted me to the skirt is the colour and has a colour which is really vibrant and allows me to add some colour to my normal black, navy blue and white staple wardrobe. I think the gold zip is a good touch to the skirt as well as the peach lining inside, they both gave the skirt a special touch.  The skirt is also really good cut and very flattering! In terms of styling, I think it can be worn to work at the office, to a party or just out and about on the weekend


Tuesday, 18 February 2014








A massive thanks to Lisa Fitzgerald for all the beautiful photography. 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Market Dates

We're really excited to confirm four upcoming market dates Over the next few months, we'll be holding stalls across Melbourne to showcase Madame Tây's first production lot.

Come and say hi!

Saturday, March 8th

Time: 12pm to 5pm
Location: The Cape Lounge, 298-300 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Sunday, March 16th

Time: 10am to 3pm
Location: Abbotsford Convent- 1 Helier Street, Abbotsford

Sunday, March 30th

Time: 11am to 5pm
Location: 60 Rose Street, Fitzroy

Sunday, April 13th

Time: 10am to 3pm
Location: Lithuanian Club – 44 Errol St, North Melbourne

Monday, 10 February 2014

Afternoon Tea and Clothes Viewing Party

Madame Tây is excited to be hosting an invite-only Afternoon Tea Party on Sunday 23rd of February in Melbourne. It will be the first chance to see Madame Tây pieces up close and personal before we begin selling them at markets in March and April.
You'll be able to try the garments on and, if anything tickles your fancy, to purchase pieces on the day. There will also be lots of yummy treats, and you can chat with some of the Madame Tây team if you'd like to learn more about the garments and the processes behind them.

If you'd like to come along, pop over to our Facebook to learn how to enter to score an invite!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Transparent Pricing: Snow White Chemise

When it came to pricing the Madame Tây pieces, offering a fair and affordable price was really important to us.  So often ethically produced goods are priced so high that only a small privileged strata of society are able to access them. For us, an ethical clothing project meant not only having an ethical production process where our tailors are being paid a fair wage, but also offering a fair price for our consumers at the other end. 

I am strongly convinced that there is a  place for something like Madame Tây - we want to create the pieces that you want to buy because they are beautiful and can buy because they are affordable, but are simultaneously assured that each piece is ethically produced. And so Madame Tây has served as an experiment of sorts - because something like Madame Tây can only work in the long run if it is sustainable and it can only be sustainable if it is financially viable.  

And here lies the balance that we are trying to find - determining a selling price for our clothes which is on the one hand fair and affordable for consumers and on the other hand financially viable for Madame Tây.

Inspired by the concept of radical transparency advocated by Everlane, we decided to break-down and show you our production costs so that when you buy the Snow White Chemise you know exactly how much it cost to make and where that money went. We have questioned whether this is the right thing to do - after all would people still want to buy a shirt at $40 if they knew that the raw production cost of the shirt is less than $15? In the end, we decided to do this for two reasons. Firstly, we constantly emphasise that we are more interested in the process than the final product. Throughout the project we have been keenly aware that there are many things which we could (and should) do better - one example is using more sustainable and ethical fabrics. The whole project has been an important process of learning - and we believe that by seeking out, documenting and sharing that information - we (and maybe even others) can learn from it and improve our work in the future. Secondly the issue of transparency lies very close to me - afterall I work for an organisation called Transparency International in Vietnam. Everyday I operate on the premise that transparency is critical - because knowledge is transformative whether it be in the struggle against corruption or in building a safer clothing and garment industry.

For the Snow White Chemise you see that there is a mark-up of 2.7 times the cost of production. What is important to keep in mind is that this is the raw production cost associated with producing this item. What the $14.75 does not include is all the time Sarah, Cara, Christina and I have poured into sampling clothes; sourcing fabrics, buttons and zips; bi-weekly visits to the tailors to oversee production and quality; testing out sizing; ironing and tagging each piece individually. And those were a lot of hours - let me tell you! It also doesn't include any of the costs of bringing the clothes to you - designing and building our website or the cost of market stall (not to mention the hours spent staffing the stall). It doesn't cover the invaluable contributions of many friends and family who volunteered  their time, bodies and skills to build and host our website (thanks Matt!), photograph our clothes (thanks Lisa), model and test sample sizing, help with make-up, provide production and financial advice, the list goes on and on. To be completely honest, if we were to factor in and cost all this time, the first production lot of Madame Tây is not financially viable - not by a long shot. But this first production lot is small - only around 175 pieces in total and as we emphasise time and time again, we have learnt so much though the process. If we were to do this again at a slightly larger scale - say double or triple the production size, now that we have found trusted tailors, a better understanding and eye for fabrics (and also leads on where to source more sustainable fabrics) and a website created, I see that Madame Tây has the potentially to become self-sustaining in the future.     

Friday, 7 February 2014

Come Visit our Website!

After many days weeks months of hard work, we are so excited to share with you our website. On our website you can see photos of and find out more about each of the pieces that we have produced, including the tailor who handcrafted each individual piece and the places where we sourced the fabrics, find out where and how to purchase the pieces and read more about the values that drive us.

Come visit us at

Thank you so much to Matt at 3Flex for your incredible work in developing and hosting our website - without you we would be completely clueless! Matt has been amazingly patient and a complete genius in helping to transform every single one of our crazy ideas ("What if the website did this when I hover my cursor over the image...") into reality.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Style Inspiration - Jessica Finch

NAME: Jessica Finch
HOMETOWN: Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia
CURRENTLY LIVING: Melbourne, Australia
OCCUPATION: Visual Merchandiser

Finchy and I first met briefly through some mutual friends during our first year at uni. We cemented our friendship later when our pathes crossed while waiting for an art history lecture, we chatted and munched on chocolate covered coffee beans and we've never looked back. I've always admired Finchy's ability to pair simple basics with cute design features - she has a natural flair for choosing beautiful, unique accessories and wears bold colours and prints with aplomb. Finchy's style is distinctively cute and fun, but has an air of elegance about it. When we were choosing pieces to produce in Senegal, she served as a great inspiration as she embodies the look we aimed to recreate - elegant, casual and fun.