Starting a business is not on everyone’s agenda when they're 19. Most people are just happy to be of legal age. For Virginia Martin, youth didn’t factor in her decision to launch Bul, a clothing label that takes inspiration from different countries and their coastal landscapes.
“When I finished school, I knew that I wanted to do fashion. I went off and did a year of experience. I did a TAFE course at RMIT for a year. Then I thought, 'that’s enough, that’s all I need to know' and I launched my label when I was 19."
Her unique philosophy of combining her passion for travel, culture, surfing and the ocean with minimalistic and chic designs has paid off. Bul (pronounced with a hard ‘u’ like skull) is now a highly desirable fashion label, gracing wardrobes all over the country.
“Originally it was sold to like ten stores around Melbourne, very low key. I did that for a few years and then moved to New York and California where I did internships with designers to get more experience and see how other people do things. Then I moved back and relaunched the label again in 2010."
From the rugged landscapes of New Zealand to the exotic beaches of Mexico, each collection takes on a new design narrative, allowing Virginia to exercise her creativity from varied insights and inspirations.
Now with six stores in Australia and stockists in Japan and New Zealand, Virginia Martin is a young and truly inspiring designer set to only make a bigger impression on the Australian fashion scene. And her desk tells an equally inspiring, yet minimalist story.
1. Her Inspiration
“The next Bul collection is based on Iceland. I like to sort of surround myself in things that are to do with the collection or the country to really get into it.“The vase is by a Danish designer and it's like an icicle or an ice sculpture. It’s really beautiful, and I like to look at nice things and be inspired by nice things while I am working.“Candles, on the other hand are just a really nice thing to have around you all of the time. You know when a candle is burning, especially in the winter time and seeing that fire and the warmth and the smell."
2. The Technology
“My tablet is more for travel, and showing look-books and brand information if I am out having a meeting, but otherwise everything is on my computer – everything.“All of the imagery, all of the shop images, everything that I am going into, everything is stored on the tablet. I can easily access look-books, store layouts or inspiration imagery for the next shoot or things like that.”
"I love nature. As we are stuck inside all day, having living plants around you I just love. It’s important for me to have lots of greenery and plants, sort of keeping you grounded.“Having lots of green brings me back to nature. The inspiration for the label is the ocean so I like to surround myself in thick leafy green plants. Not so much flowers.”
"I’m not just inspired by fashion. I like to have well-rounded sort of inspiration. There’s not … one key magazine that I always flick through. I change it up and have a look at whatever I feel like at the time.“I’m [very] visual – not much of a reader unfortunately – so magazines are more for me. Other magazines I also like are Kinfolk and Gentlewoman.”
5. Massage Ball
"I have a sewing injury, I used to sew too much, and now I’ve got a really bad back. I use the massage ball every day [because] just sitting at a computer every day is really bad and gets very stiff. So I use that to roll myself out on the wall.“I take it everywhere with me. It’s not just an item in the office.“I used to actually [use] a tennis ball until I found this spiky massage ball.”