2 Minutes With Virginia Martin Of búl

By Sophie Hodge
7th Jun 2015

If you haven’t heard of búl, not only have you been hiding under some kind of unfashionable rock, but you’ve also been missing out on the gorgeous clothes that are gracing Australian closets. With each collection inspired by an exotic country, búl’s clothes capture the array of culture and style around the world—bringing them together in the perfect combination of minimalistic and chic. 

We were lucky enough to score an interview with creator and genius Virginia Martin, and go behind the scenes of the latest Autumn/Winter ’15 collection (which we want all of, by the way). 

bul AW 2015

The Urban List: Going back to where it all started, how did you get into fashion design?

Virginia: I was always very creative and my love for clothing was nurtured by my mother, who doubled as a sewing teacher, so I had that creative support early on. After school, I got some interning positions in New york at labels Proenza Schouler, Cynthia Rowley and Heatherette then I was offered a designer role with California label Trovata which really gave me the feel for designing for a label.

The Urban List: Where did the name ‘búl’ come from?

Virginia: It is actually my nickname, my brother couldn’t pronounce ‘Virginia’ when we were younger so he started calling me búl and it stuck. When starting my label, I wanted it to reflect the person I am; my inspirations, creative direction and relaxed feel and my nickname was a perfect fit. 

The Urban List: Your latest AW15 is amazing, can you tell us a bit about the design process? 

Virginia: Each season starts with the natural beauty of a chosen country, its coastline, landscapes and rich cultural history. Scotland inspired the AW15 collection, aptly named ‘Scotland’. Reflecting on the culture of Scotland, there was so much to explore design-wise and how to put a modern interpretation on the culture of the beautiful country.

The Urban List: What was the reason behind using Scotland as the inspiration? 

Virginia: Scotland has such beautiful landscapes, which are incredibly inspiring.  I often reflect on a trip to Scotland with such vivid imagery and I really couldn’t wait to base one of my collections on that experience. Of course as a designer, I am fascinated by the rich cultural history of Scotland, the tartan fabrics worn by the locals, the Northern Lights and the calm ocean below the towering cliffs. I played with those ideas throughout the collection.

The Urban List: How does the collection capture the best of Scotland?

Virginia: A theme running through the collection is the use of structured knits and soft leather contrasting natural linens and silk; an interpretation of the rich historic identity of Scotland and the seaside landscapes. You will also see quilted pieces as clever design details paying homage to the culture and practice of Wholecloth Quilting in the isle.

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The Urban List: What’s new in the collection that we haven’t seen before?

Virginia: You may have become familiar with the soft colour pallet I like to work with; hues of the blues, light greens and soft greys, though there is a blend of those colours in the collection, this season I have also used the bold colour of fuchsia, reflective of the Northern Lights and featuring in the Aurora print in skirts, tops, dresses and jackets.

This season there has been a focus on thoughtful design and functionality, so dresses are detachable and can be worn as separates, while long knitted cardigans double as dresses. 

The Urban List: What makes your label unique from other Australian designers? 

Virginia: My label offers our customers a full and diverse collection, not simply fashion apparel. On top of the main collection, the footwear follows the same design ethos as the apparel; clean lines, quality fabrics and easy to wear styles. The knitwear collection offers our customers a range of different styles. Each season we develop and experiment with different yarns, designs and colours. búl offers several leather pieces each winter season and swimwear in summer, which ties into the apparel colours and designs. búl’s basics collection has been a major line for the label, with a very strong following offering 100% cotton staple pieces. Minimal yet highly sophisticated leather bags, clutches and wallets, sunglasses, hats and jewellery. On top of that, I do collaborations every season with local artists for limited edition pieces such as ceramics and candles.

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The Urban List: What’s the hardest thing about working in the fashion industry?

Virginia: It is always go, go, go. At any one point, I am working on three or four collections at once; from the one currently in stores, the next season’s production and the season after that’s design development—it is hard to keep track sometimes. That is why it is so important for me to escape down to the coast whenever I can.

The Urban List: What’s the best piece of fashion advice you’ve ever been given? 

Virginia: I learnt early on that if you want to be successful in whatever you do it is best to get as much experience as possible under your belt. So that’s what I did when I finished studying—I went and interned for a year in New York and held a design role for another brand before coming home and starting búl.

The Urban List: Any exciting plans for the near future?

Virginia: I am looking to open a sixth store within Australia this year, having a strong retail presence is very important to me. búl has had so much success with our expansion into Asia and we are focusing growth in this area; as well as our international profile.

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