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INTERVIEW: Steele designer/owner Jessica Reid

By Railee Wells.

Melbourne fashion label S t e e l e is the piece de resistance of passionate designer Jessica Reid. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, Jess decided to follow her heart and live out her dream as fashion designer and owner of successful Australian-designed and owned fashion label.

S t e e l e was born from a dream to create a brazenly pretty yet tough label that fuses bohemian nostalgia with modern urbanity. Jess’s vision was to create beautiful clothing that inspires a fresh, feminine and laid-back attitude, using captivating prints &soft silhouettes that is S t e e l e’s signature style. Complimented by detail, leather & embellishment, Jess’s passion for the perfect balance between feminine glamour & urban edge is fundamental in the design process.

Read my insightful and inspiring interview with the lovely Jess below.


Railee. XO


Do you follow a particular research process when designing a new collection? It usually starts with a particular look that captures my attention, and resonates with my personal style.  I’ll then look out for a street style trend and see how the stylemakers are channelling it.
The designs are always brought back to our signature aesthetic of pretty x tough styling and strength in femininity at the centre of the process of every piece. 
You often refer to STEELE as your love child…a reflection on the laid back Australian lifestyle intertwined with bohemian nostalgia and modern urbanity, is this where you have taken your inspiration for STEELE from? Who or what has influenced you? The 70′s era is a huge inspiration and continually intrigues me, especially the vintage imagery of rock stars in Marrakech or muses to that generation. I just love the laid back nonchalant vibe. Also, ease of wear. Being able to rock a beautiful pretty dress by day, and then just switch it up with heels and a jacket for a simple day to night transition is so essential to our lifestyle. 

What inspires/ motivates you to persevere in such a cut throat industry? What has been your greatest achievement? You must continually push yourself to improve and better yourself.  You can never be to complacent in the retail/fashion industry as it moves too quickly. Blink an eye and the opportunity is I sometimes find myself in a position where I need to make calculated yet very quick decisions on key trends and get onto producing a garment while the trend is still hot!
My greatest achievement is my daughter Asher, and learning to balance a career that I’m passionate about, and not sacrificing family. Striving to have it all can be testing at times, but it is very, very rewarding. 

How did you get your first break?  Working for and being mentored by the direction of The Lofft Fashion Agency. 

What advice do you have for other aspiring fashion designers?  Have patience, put in the hours to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible, sufficient funding is key as well as being passionate. Be prepared to work long hours. Do not react to market trends too strongly, and stay true to your core aesthetic.

You have been lucky enough to build your portfolio up with some of the biggest names in the Australian entertainment industry with the likes of Kylie Minogue, Rebecca Judd and Nikki Phillips, is there anyone else you would love to work with? Who is your dream client? All these women above are incredibly successful & stylish women that have supported Steele in its early and relatively unknown days. I am forever grateful and humbled!!! My dream client would be Poppy Devilne or Blake Lively. 

What is one staple STEELE item every woman needs in her wardrobe this AW15?  Our fringed Asher knit and military inspired Freedom Shirt’s (I have all three colours available in the collection!) are on heavy rotation in my wardrobe. 

Who inspires you the most in fashion? Do you have any favourite designers? Successful designers that have been in the industry for years and persevered through the ups and down. Zimmerman is an inspiring Australian label and internationally Chloe is always stunning and classic. 

Do you try to send out a message or theme in your clothes? Yes, confidence and strength in femininity.  Being sexy does not always mean tight and revealing. 

Did you always want to be  fashion designer growing up? Not from the start, however it was something that developed over the years as I grew in my role. The role was born from industry experience, a love of expression via fashion and a desire to challenge myself. 

What sets Australian fashion designers apart from international fashion designers? Casual elegance, creativity & our laid back aesthetic.

Do you have an item of clothing that is your guilty pleasure? Something so bad it is just too good to throw away Kimonos and printed throws. Always classic, always elegant. They never date and look incredible hanging in your wardrobe.  

Thank you so much. XO




Image Source: Daniel Gurton Photography