BY TILLY QUON
“I have always been crafty, my mother is an artist and I was surrounded by art at an early age,” explains designer and label owner Rosa Gonzaga.
“I started working in fashion in 1996. I didn’t know how to sew yet, but I always wanted to be an illustrator. Ever since I was very young I was designing garments for people I knew, including my own sweet 16th dress. At 21, I moved to New Zealand because I could study fashion there.”
The Rosinha brand started out as ‘Rosa Maria,’ a popular fashion label in Brazil from 2003-2007. In 2009, the label was reborn in Australia as ‘Rosinha,’ but Rosa then took a break from fashion for a few years.
“I stopped designing for several years because I was unhappy with consumerism and the changes that were going on in fashion,” she says.
In 2020, inspired by the need for face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic, Rosa reopened ‘Rosinha’ while living in Canberra, which was open for one year before opening a store in Melbourne, where the label currently resides.
After relocating from Brazil to Melbourne, there were many differences that Rosa experienced. “In Brazil, it is not as competitive as it is in Australia. I think my style is a little bit more accepted overseas and in cities other than Melbourne, most of my orders are from outside of Melbourne.” But this doesn’t stop Rosa from offering a range of colourful and exciting garments to consumers.
Another challenge that Rosinha has faced is that the label hasn’t had access to a ‘normal’ Melbourne. “My shopfront has been through the Covid-19 pandemic and now a recession, it is financially difficult at the moment, not just for me but for a lot of designers.”
“I think people should buy things that they really like, regardless of the price and wear it forever.” Sustainability is very important to the label and Rosinha aims to create as minimal wastage as possible. “I try to use as much as I can from all of my materials, I aim for minimal wastage when I cut out my patterns. I want to make the most of my fabrics.”
ADVICE FOR ASPIRING DESIGNERS
After working in the fashion industry for a majority of her life, Rosa explains that the key to a successful career in the industry is persistence. Fashion can be a really hard industry to break into, and she says “you need to learn how to sell products, not just how to design them.”
“You need to be persistent and work hard. It is a major commitment, you are always working. I think that fashion is really hard, but if you love it and have the passion you should definitely persist through the hard times, but you need to be motivated and driven.”
Visit the store at 79 Johnston St, Collingwood, Melbourne, VIC 3066; Opening Hours Friday – Saturday 11am – 5pm and Sunday 12pm – 4pm. For more information about Rosinha, go to www.rosinha.com.au. You can also follow the brand on Instagram at @rosinhabrand.
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