An Interview with The 400 Co's Laura Chong
Mercy Bass | On 29, Jan 2016
Brisbaneâ€™s Laura Chong is on a mission to design clothing for women who want to push the boundaries of what is corporate. The Creative Issue spoke to her about a day in a life of a lawyer-turned-fashion designer and the women that inspire her.
The classic clean lines of her designs reflect the influence of Chanel and Dior, while the power and dynamics of each piece show Laura Chongâ€™s inspiration drawn from the women around her. â€œI was actually inspired more by the powerful women I was surrounded by daily at the law firm where I worked. They are all real go-getters and fashionistas.â€ Â
After growing up seeing her mother making her own clothes and her grandfather working as a tailor, LauraÂ quickly picked up the family trait. Years of making her own clothes equipped herÂ with a good understanding of garment construction, which meant that when the then-practicing construction lawyer craved a way of expressing her creativity and style, she turned to fashion design.
LauraÂ says her need of a creative output and a wanting â€œto wear something different to work that was not another boring grey suit or a high street label dress that everyone else in the city owned,â€ were the two things that pushed her to start TheÂ 400 Co.
â€œI think thatâ€™s really how every great dream is turned into a business â€“ seeing a gap in the market and figuring out a way to solve the problem.â€ In Laura’s Â case it was the what to wear to work dilemma women face each morning.
Thus The 400 Co. was born: a label that LauraÂ says provides corporate fashion with an edge that can transition from work to weekend, minus the hefty price tag.
The label is named with a sense of nostalgia after a 19th century New York club called The 400. The club’s clientele was comprised of the upmost fashion elite in society and LauraÂ hopes this is reflected into the clothing she designs. â€œThatâ€™s what I wanted my brand to represent,â€ she says. â€œI feel that corporate women today are an exclusive group of fashion elite in society and the modern day version of The 400.â€ LauraÂ describes these women as stylish, ambitious, driven and always inspired.
â€œWorking women today want more, so I am simply trying to give it to them,â€ LauraÂ says. â€œWe want clothing that can keep up with us â€“ we often start with breakfast functions, then work all day and head out to a cocktail networking event in the evening. Itâ€™s about finding those classic pieces that can get you through the 9-5 and beyond.â€
With 400 Co.â€™s online store and the Edward St shopfront now in full swing â€“ Laura’sÂ life has turned from the 9-5 Monday-Friday regime of a construction lawyer, to what she describes as a more balanced schedule. â€œFor me, the business side of 400 Co. satisfies my analytical mind and I often do most of this work in the morning first thing. The creative side of the business and design often come later in the day.â€
The creative side of 400 Co. starts with a sketch that LauraÂ draw up on anything from a design book to a plane ticket. â€œYes, I have designed half a collection before on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney!â€ LauraÂ says. The sketch is then turned into a template design and LauraÂ works closely with 400 Co.â€™s tailors to perfect a sample, the samples then go into production. â€œOur tailors are very specific, so we have a particular tailor for jackets, dresses, pants, etc,â€ sheÂ explains.
Check out Lauraâ€™s designs through her website and flagship store at 188 Edward Street, Brisbane.
Images courtesy of The 400 Co.