Words by Karen McCartney
ABOUT LEE MATHEWS
The brand genesis of Lee Mathews is the stuff of cinematic narrative: a creative who was an illustrator and art director for Vogue Australia starts making clothes for herself and her friends on the kitchen table, upgrading to a small workshop in Sydney’s Newport when demand increased and babies and dressmaking pins became incompatible.
By retaining the core belief that she should simply, ‘make good things,’ the brand has navigated its way, quietly but determinedly, to be a global fashion force selling not only locally in Australia but through respected international platforms Net-a-porter.com. and matchesfashion.com.
“I don’t think of the clientele for my brand in terms of generic demographics. I think of my friends, my staff, the people I admire and I consider their lives and what will give them ease and beauty”, says Lee. As much as she considers the way her customers live she has always been driven by the space, the context in which her designs are presented. Architecture, art and objects of craftsmanship are an established part of her oeuvre and she celebrates the role they play in her creative process.
Like the artists she admires, Donald Judd and Sonia Delaunay for their ability to hold a single gaze over a body of work, Lee has distilled a core aesthetic, all the while experimenting with each collection. Her customers trust her as she leads them in new directions, always paying homage to what has gone before but never standing still.
“If I had to be pinned down to a wardrobe philosophy’, she says, ‘it would be to design clothes that resonate deeply with people’s lives, clothes that are functional and beautiful, that are ageless and simple and manage to add easy and confidence every day”.