When Art meets Fashion: Meet the Designer Behind Third Boi Apparel

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Meet Bianca Latorre, founder and director of Third Boi

My name is Bianca Latorre and I live in Melbourne with my handsome husband and two gorgeous boys Samson 5 and Willem almost 3.  They are always full of energy and often covered in dirt! We love hanging out at home, the nearby park or getting together with family.

The name Third Boi actually came about since this project requires the same amount of love, dedication and energy as raising a small child so it is in effect my third boy baby.  I am also the third of three girls so there is that link as well.

 Bianca and her two sons in their Melbourne home

Bianca and her two sons in their Melbourne home

Q&A with Bianca

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I would definitely say that I’m all about simple design. It’s almost more challenging to create something beautiful and original whilst resisting the temptation to over do it.  I also love good colour use. It’s funny how colour can literally make or break a design.

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What inspired you to switch careers from homewares to fashion design?

I always wanted to make clothes. When I was in grade 5 were given a project to select a career and research it. I, along with about most of the other girls in the class, picked Fashion Designer. I already loved drawing and quickly became obsessed with fashion drawing using watercolours. I used to spend hours in my room drawing these girls with disproportionately long legs and no faces!

I also always loved fine arts so my compromise was to study textile design as a way to fulfil my love of art and fashion at the same time.  I sort of fell into Homeware design when I was presented a job opportunity with a friend whilst at Uni and quickly became hooked. The world of homeware design seemed so untapped at that time.  I also had a part time retail job at Country Road. I worked my way into Head Office where I was a homeware production assistant before weaselling my way into the Design team at the first opportunity I got (with the help of a very supportive manager at the time).

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Fast Forward almost 10 years when a career break from full time work after maternity leave had me freelancing and working mostly from home.  Suddenly a lot of my much loved wardrobe was not longer suitable. Add to that my changed body after 2 kids and I had a constant struggle with what to put on every day.  Sure there was a lot of casual gear on the market but I couldn’t find my ‘look’ and I needed more flattering lines and oversized silhouettes… then I had a light bulb moment.  I contacted my agent in India to see if we could work on apparel and suddenly the leap was made.

What (or who) have been your biggest influences when it comes to expressing yourself creatively?

My mum and late Nonna were massive influences on me, they were both exceptional at sewing and taught me well.  Nonna used to sew just about everything from PJs to aprons, tablecloths and curtains. And my mum made a lot of beautiful dresses for us girls.  They were always buying fabric and trims. I never even knew that you could buy a matching sheet set without seams because ours were always home made haha.

My aunty who was close in age to me and my two sisters was also an early fashion influence on me.  She loved shopping and loved designer clothing. As a little girl I used to sit on the edge of the bath and watch her put on makeup and get dressed for a night out with friends.  As a teenager she was always so generous in letting us raid her wardrobe. I used to turn up to casual clothes day at school in her CK jeans (very 90’s hip) and her all her Scanlan and Theodore gear.

I also love Australian designers.  Some of my favourites are of course Scanlan and Theodore (actually got to briefly work alongside Fiona Scanlan at CR – she was amazing!), Camilla and Marc, Viktoria and Woods, Bassike, Ginger and Smart, Bianca Spender, Jac + Jack, Kitx by Kit Willow, Dion Lee and Life with Bird (can’t wait to see what their next project will be).

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What is your creative process from initial concept to a finished Third Boi design?

The first thing I do before starting any work is to drop the boys at Kinder! My work is done around the clock and I’m constantly designing things in my head. The bulk of it is done when the kids are not home because the little one likes to get his sticky fingers on my keyboard and the older one is obsessed with looking at my screensaver for some reason He also likes to draw his own little designs that he wants me to add to my collection and is fully expecting to see his red jacket make an appearance in the range soon….so look out for it girls!

Once the boys are at kinder nothing else happens until I’ve made myself a latte. After that I light my favourite candle (Burnt Oakmoss by Alchemy Produx) and put on some good tunes - I’m loving indie arrivals on Spotify at the moment - then it’s time to work!

I always start a range with a good mood board or two.  I am the queen of mood boards. Sometimes the creative process gets confusing when you have a lot of ideas swirling around in your head and it’s hard to stay focused.  I find a coming back to a mood board can keep things on track. It is a very fluid process, things can organically take on a new direction, so the boards get updated along the way. 

I collate imagery from blogs, the latest runway shows, Pinterest and Instagram. Sometimes I might even go all old school and scan something out of a magazine! I also always have a pile of fabric swatches and colour chips on hand so there’s a library of resources ready to go when I start.  I then put together a carefully selected colour palette, which changes a billion times before it’s finalised, to make sure all the shades are the perfect Pantone.

Colour is so important, it has to be just right.

Then I work on the seasonal prints. Since I’m a qualified textile Designer, Third Boi prints are all original, exclusive and created by me.  Then I work on the styles and range building. This is the trickiest and most technical part. Making sure all the shapes are wearable, flattering and commercial but also interesting and have a point of difference with attention to detail and quality trims…. whoa it’s exhausting just thinking about it but also so much fun, I love it!!!

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People often ask me how I know what the fashion and colour trends will be. If I’m honest, whilst I keep close tabs on what’s happening in the fashion world, with the type of clothing that I am trying to create, I rely less on fashion trends and more on designing from my own gut.  I am basically creating product that I myself would like to own, and hoping the rest of the world gets my vibe. Often it will all start with one image or colour that I am drawn to and build up from there. That’s the way I have always designed.

When I started designing homeware at Country Road, there actually were no real trends for home. Since we were primarily a fashion house anyway, we would look to fashion for inspiration and spy on the womenswear designers and what they had brought back from overseas. Ultimately my job was to translate that into something very saleable for the home, so my own design instincts would have to kick in.

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What were some of the challenges of launching into an entirely new career? 

I’d have to say my biggest challenge in launching this label is ‘getting it out there’. The process of design and product development as well as the world of logistics and importing behind the scenes was already all very familiar to me. The rest of what goes into getting a product to market is normally handed over from a designer to some clever merchandisers, stylists, marketing teams and sales people to take the reigns. As a small business with limited resources, I’ve had to quickly learn a few things. But I’ve been lucky enough to meet some awesome people to work with and help me realise this aspect of the dream!

What will you be looking for when you judge this week's creative challenge entries?

I will be looking for something that jumps out at me and inspires me.  I love imagery with good colour composition and am drawn to clean, architectural and simple lines - hence the theme ‘Less is More’.

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Bianca is the sponsor of our ‘Less is More' themed photo challenge this week. Find out how you can participate here - Creative Challenge Entry Details and you could win a $250 voucher to spend at Third Boi

You can shop the Third Boi collection online and join Bianca on Instagram at @third_boi