Justin Tong is all about empowering women to feel more confident in their personal style

Melbourne-based designer Justin Tong’s new eponymous label is his “love letter” to all the important women in his life. 

“My interest in the fashion industry stems from growing up being raised and surrounded by mostly women. These ladies transformed me and shaped me into the person I am today. So in return, my label is a love letter to women – a safe space dedicated to ensuring each individual feels beautiful and ready to take on any occasion,” he explains. 

“I also used to model, which strengthened my love for fashion and gave me first hand experience of what goes on behind the glossy pages and perfectly orchestrated runways. 

“It all started with a few comments from my friends and family expressing how they struggle to feel empowered and confident through their personal styles, while finding design-driven garments that do not come at the cost of people and the planet. 

“Then a few fashion shows later, followed by the desire to work for myself and just like that, Justin Tong was founded.

“When I first started the business, I was confident in the fact that if you are willing to work hard for your dreams you can move mountains. It did not really work out quite that easily – with many hurdles along the way – but here we are. 

“The main issue I experienced – and continue to experience – is learning to roll with the punches and adapting to changes quickly. However, I am learning new things everyday and I’m proud to see how far the label has come in such a short amount of time.”

According to Justin, the concept behind the brand is to bridge the gap between “self-expression and accessibility”. 

“We strive to make sure that you can own a well crafted and ethically manufactured designer garment at a price point accessible to many. All my garments are designed with an emphasis on craftsmanship and quality, in a bid to make the wearer feel considered and confident. 

“We are not a trend driven brand, our aesthetic is incorporated between classic and extravaganza design styles,” says Justin.

Justin says that his background being born and raised in Vietnam, surrounded by traditional gender constructs and beliefs, mixed with his teens spent in Australia, is the background to his designs. It gave him a “dual perspective of the world”.

“I bring this to my design aesthetic as I create pieces that emphasise femininity, while fusing my favourite aspects from Asian and Australian culture.

“At the end of the day garments are an essential visual indicator for our personal identity and how we are feeling on any given day. I want Justin Tong [the brand] to be an incubator where people can enter a safe space, push the design boundaries and over time build out a design-driven wardrobe that dares to be seen.”

The women in his life are Justin’s main source of inspiration: “Their pain points with clothes and the current gaps in the market became the motivation for my debut collection and the reason Justin Tong was founded.”

Specific design concepts are “a fusion between my favourite Australian coastal cool and Asian aesthetics … evident through my voluminous silhouettes, earthy colour pallet and unapologetic visibility,” says Justin.

Sustainability and ethical issues are core to most fashion brands, but Justin is honest in discussing his recent introduction to just how important they are.

“I have to admit, when I started the brand I was not aware of the environmental impact caused by the fashion industry and my immediate intent was not to launch a sustainably conscious label,” Justin explains. 

“However, I have learnt a lot during my journey into the fashion industry, including the importance of creating a label that prioritises people and the planet over profits. 

“All Justin Tong garments are created using deadstock fabric – that would have otherwise gone to landfill – in boutique factories that oppose the large-scale and often problematic factories of recent eras.”

The long-term goals for the brand include building and developing the label in Australia.

“However, during these early days of business I am eager to establish myself and create a strong foundation for the Justin Tong brand.

“One goal that I am dedicated to building upon is creating a safe shopping environment for all consumers, where people can try new styles, have some fun and find their true self through expressive fashion. 

“Through past negative employment experiences, I am also dedicated to creating a positive and uplifting work environment that fosters and utilises employees’ passions to allow them to reach their full potential.”

For more information about the brand, go to justintong.com.au, and follow the brand on Instagram at @justintong.official. The brand officially launches on September 3, 2022.

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