Lighten up and stop taking fashion so seriously.
That’s the story behind the name of Objects Without Meaning, the Los Angeles-made women’s label launched in 2011 by Australian designer Alexandra Michelle.
“Clothes don’t make you who you are as a person. A girl should be wearing the clothes; the clothes shouldn’t be wearing the girl. Each piece should be an empty vessel—it should only mean something because you make it something,” she said. “They’re just clothes.”
Which is why her line doesn’t chase the latest trends and she will never design something her customers have to strain their brains to wear.
“They’re the kind of clothes that you get up in the morning and put on and you don’t even think about it. The minute you have to think about how to wear something, it’s not effortless anymore,” Michelle said.
Instead, each collection focuses on pieces that can be mixed and matched with ease, like relaxed linen tees, simple silk jumpsuits, loose-fitting jackets and comfy jeans and pants.
“For me, it’s about designing for and being influenced by the environment where I live,” she offered. “Living in L.A. definitely lends itself to a more relaxed environment, state of mind and quality of life. It’s a lot more chill.”
Not to mention worlds away from her past life designing for mass-market retailers, where she said she learned “a lot of really good things and a lot of bad things.” She continued, “Working for a big corporation you’re a slave to the market; people tell you what they need. A lot of creativity gets put to the side.”
After about a decade, she knew she wasn’t going to be happy regurgitating “the same thing over again, just in another color” forever and decided it was time to do her own thing. And while “creative” might not be the first word that comes to mind when describing Objects Without Meaning’s offering, Michelle’s back-to-basics approach to design is what sets her clothing apart from an overload of try-hard, inaccessible fashion in the contemporary market.
“I’m not outrageous in my designs. I’m not so fashion-forward and so stuck on trends or anything like that,” she said. “The creativity comes from sourcing beautiful fabrics and working within the guidelines of minimalism and functionality, and all of those things you don’t really explore in big corporations. I really started to focus on that a lot more in the last year or so, and for me that’s really creative.”
Another upside to having her own line: Choosing to make it in LA. “I’ve worked for a lot of big, off-shore corporations, where you sketch a picture, send it off, someone comes back with the magical box and you have samples,” Michelle said.
Not an ideal situation for someone who considers herself to be a hands-on designer. “It’s crucial for me to be a part of the process, sitting with the pattern maker, making up the sample, going to see production. That’s what makes it exciting and makes it feel like I made it,” she said.
And what she’s made for Fall ’15 reinforces the brand’s ethos of functionality. Denim anchors the collection—the utilitarian fabric is featured across the board, not only in jeans but also jackets, outerwear, skirts and dresses. Sleeveless turtlenecks are offered, too, designed to be layered under shirt dresses or T-shirts, while fans of her classic, cropped Boy Zip jeans (a perennial bestseller) are sure to love her latest silhouette: a high-waisted, wide-leg style in pale blue denim.
Don’t dismiss a pale palette for fall: There’s method to Michelle’s madness. “A lot of people shop on a buy now-wear now basis and I deliver my fall collection in July. Let’s be realistic here: You’re not going to be wearing tight black jeans in the middle of summer.”