Words Alexandra Economou & Anna Vlach
Making a name for itself nationally and overseas, South Australian affordable luxury label Acler was always going to cut it. After all, designers Julia Ritorto and Kathryn Forth had sewn up a deal with Myer ahead of its official launch. The national retailer signed Acler in mid 2015 on the credentials of its impressive debut collection and Ritorto and Forth’s careers.
Both had worked for SA global success story, Australian Fashion Labels, as head designers for Finders Keepers and Cameo, since rebranded as Finders and C/MEO Collective. When they decided to join forces and create an independent brand they chose the name Acler, from the word clear, to reflect its fresh aesthetic. “When shopping for our own wardrobes we had always found it hard to find pieces with a clean, elevated design with luxurious fabrication, but at an attainable price,” Ritorto says.
In just 18 months Acler has won over stylists and celebrities, who love its clean, sculptural and feminine designs. Among the growing list of names coveting the brand are Myer ambassador Jennifer Hawkins and international supermodels Gigi Hadid and Coco Rocha. The latter wore Acler while in Australia for her appearance at the 2016 Adelaide Fashion Festival, which showcased Ritorto and Forth’s designs. Australian-born rapper Iggy Azalea was also dressed by Acler for an Elle Canada cover and editorial.
Refusing to be dictated by seasonal trends, Ritorto and Forth have an organic approach to designing, beginning with the fabrics, which include silk, cotton and linen. “We pick a colour palette, beautiful prints and textures first, then over the course of a few weeks lock ourselves away draping and sketching in our studio,” Ritorto says. “Certain fabrics will dictate how they are manipulated and into what shapes and we really let the fabrics and an open mind lead us to our designs.”
With its own online store, Acler is also stocked around the country and in international online retailers Moda Operandi and Shopbop. The next step for Acler is a range of accessories. “We always seem to be hunting for the perfect shoe,” says Ritorto. “Why search when you can make your own?”