Can you tell us a bit about Devel?
Devel is a men's and women's vintage-inspired clothing label I started in 2006, fresh out of uni. I design and make all the clothing under the Devel label. I've been currently running The Devel Vs Project where I do a design-collaboration with another creative/personality each month, designing and making them a piece of clothing inspired by them and their work. It's so much fun! I really love designing fun and interesting clothing, and now I get to do it all the time! The name 'Devel' is built from my name (my middle name is Eve), and is the branding that I've been using on pretty much all of my art and fashion design work since I was a teenage punk.
What is your background?
I grew up devouring art, music and design inspiration from books, comics, and magazines. I was a stroppy/passionate/outspoken punk kid, sketching every day in drawing books, and entering fashion design competitions throughout my years of high school. I then took all of that to university, and worked hard for three years to gain a degree in fashion design, through AUT. Working hard paid off, and I was awarded a spot in their final-year ‘Rookie’ fashion show. I was also given the opportunity to get involved with the organisation of the Rookie show, which was a lot of fun! I have taken all the skills I learned at AUT, built on them while I worked in Illicit Clothing's design room, and applied them to the work I do with Devel. I still hungrily devour art, music and design inspiration from all possible sources, but these days there's a decidedly more vintage tone to what I collect.
You have the most stunning wardrobe. Do you make most of your own clothes or are you an obsessive vintage collector too?
Aww, why thank you! I've made probably about half of my wardrobe; the rest is mostly made up of vintage and thrifted items, then there's a few bought-new 'had-to-haves'. I've always found it easier to make my clothes than go shopping, because firstly, I can make it the perfect size/shape/length, and secondly, the end result is something much cooler and more interesting than what I can find out there in the shops. Though, I do love trawling vintage collections and op-shops too! Such awesome finds from years gone by, and there's some ridiculously gorgeous vintage stuff out there.
Have you always had a distinctly rockabilly/ vintage style?
My personal style started out in punk, and as my music tastes grew and developed, my exposure to other styles increased. I really loved the street-cool style of the rockabilly/psychobilly kids I found on the internet, and when I started making retro halter dresses for myself when the local scene (as we know it now) was in its infancy. I remember spying a gig poster for a show called Alley Cat Stomp, and being so happy to see that there was an underground scene here in Auckland. I went along to the hot rod club with a fellow punk gal-pal, and we saw Voodoo Kreepers and Labretta Suede and the Motel 6 play for the first time (for us). I was sold. The raw energy, the retro styling, and the sweet metal machines that came with it all. The scene started to grow, and I saw many-a punk kid around me grow up into a pin-up diva or slick greaser. Being a designer, I can’t get enough of the impeccable design work that has come out of eras gone by; most specifically the 50’s and 60’s. And so, my interest in rockabilly/retro/vintage has stuck.
What are your other interests?
What have we covered so far? Music and Fashion. I also love comics and comic art, baking and cute kitchenware, all things ice-cream and well-designed desserts, pop art and photography, sustainability and organics, retro furniture and architecture, tea and cocktails… Some of the things I love I’ve had to compromise on lately though, as my husband and I have been on a Paleo-eating journey since April. It has become quite an all-consuming interest; re-learning how to cook and feed ourselves for nourishment. Baking-fails aside, it’s been a lot of fun so far, and we feel like we eat like kings now!
What does a typical day in the life of Danielle Gardner look like?
If I’m good, I’ll bust out a 7min workout before having my morning shower. Then I boil the jug for tea or hot lemon water, swallow some vit C, and make either a green smoothie, or omelette with spinach and mushrooms. Emails and messaging comes next, and planning the priorities for my day (although to be fair, I’ve likely already done that while lying in bed, while also urging my body to jump out of bed!). I live on a pretty busy road, so if I need to run errands I usually leave it until mid-morning, and make it back in time for lunch with hubby Steve (who works only 5mins down the road, lucky!). Then sewing/patterns/design/writing etc for the rest of the afternoon, and most probably through the evening too. Rinse and repeat.
What advice would you give other people wanting to start their own label?
Knowledge is your friend. Learn as much as you can wherever you are; be it high school, university or working for another label to begin with. And it doesn’t stop there. Read, experiment, find a mentor, and collaborate with others. Equip yourself with as many skills and techniques as you can. Take it slow, make considered decisions, and grow within your means. Be aware of how fickle the industry can be, find your own voice and stick strong with it. A small following of die-hard fans is better place to be than trying to cater to a large volatile audience.
Where can people find your work?
I have all my current work on my website www.develbranded.co.nz. Images of my work are supplemented with stories of the design process, interviews with local creatives/personalities, sharing of happenings within the global fashion industry, and my thoughts on fashion, music, art, food and life in general. You can also find my work and some fun extras on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest under @develbranded. I also take my work to annual vintage and classic car events such as The Very Vintage Day Out, Kumeu Classic Car Show, Atomic Market and the Scrounger’s Hot Rod Blowout. They’re a lot of fun, and a great mash up of the fashion, cars, music and people involved in the vintage scene.