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Fashion Designer & Founder of the Iconic Gorman Brand


Lisa Gorman founded the Gorman brand in 1999, as a one-woman operation from her share house with her sewing machine.

Holding down 2 additional jobs across the the 5 years to follow wasn’t just about funding the start up, it was also a time to explore different career options and test her craft as a business concept.

The Gorman brand grew to 55 standalone stores over the next 2 decades, developing a fiercely loyal customer base that has not been seen by any other Australian fashion label to date. The ‘gormies’, as they self-identify, are a fan based subculture borne upon the arrival of digital marketing and social media. These devoted followers have provided some incredible insights into the relationship between brand and consumer.

Colour and print are signature to the iconic brand for which Lisa remained Creative Director until 2021. A label that, during her time at the helm, established itself as the master of collaboration, having worked with over 120 artists, designers, private and public institutions to re-materialise art and design into textiles and fashion collections. Lisa has redefined the word collaboration in the commercial sense, a term that has been splashed around a lot in the last decade and is often confused with license agreements. She will tell you there is a vast difference between the two.

In recent years, Lisa undertook 2 of her most comprehensive collaborative projects with artists from marginalised backgrounds. One being the Mangkaja project with Indigenous Artists from Fitzroy Crossing, the other with Arts Project Australia in a collaboration with neuro diverse artists.

These projects opened up ideas and activity around working together as a community, from individuals to businesses, to celebrate diversity and learn in some very interesting and unique ways that have a ripple effect well beyond the collection itself.

Current Work:

In November 2021 Lisa stepped down as Creative Director at Gorman. She is a board member for the Heide Museum of Modern Art and is working on her own creative projects inspired by her love and experience with textiles.

Previous Experience:

Moving to Melbourne after finishing high school, Lisa pursued a career as a registered nurse, spending most of her time in the Renal Transplant Unit and ICU at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Compassion and humanity are life skills that Lisa took along with her to Gorman Brand, often allowing her to view the business of fashion through a different lens.

Talking Points

Gorman: A Founder's Story

In this presentation, Lisa will share the highs and lows of starting an iconic Australian brand. From her launch as a one-woman operation at the time in 1999 in a small green-carpeted office that she remembers looked more like a detective office in a television sitcom than a fashion studio, to been stocked in 55 retailers in Australia and 15 in Japan by 2003, and opened her first boutique on Chapel Street in Prahran.

Nearly 20 years after launching her eponymous label, Gorman now has 40 stores across Australia and Lisa and her team are forever proud to dress those who dare to be themselves.

Key Takeaways:
- Practical steps and strategies to growing and managing your business
- The benefits of strategic partnerships to fill in skills gaps
- How to manage a team of creatives and empower your team at all levels
- How to find your people (customers) by finding and committing to your style

Collaboration: Driving Authenticity & Purpose in your Business

In this presentation, Lisa will share how collaboration became the main ingredient in the success of the Gorman brand.

She will define true collaboration and why it is different to a license agreement and share diverse examples of how they vary. She also outlines the importance of authenticity in collaboration particularly in regard to the relationship between collaborators because at the end of the day you can't fool your audience.

Lisa strongly believes that great things come to your business when you diversify, trust and learn through collaboration and that organisations should never underestimate the power and reach of a good collab.

Who this is for:
- Businesses wanting to diversify their product offering and market position via collaboration
- Organisations who want to reach a broader audience through collaboration
- Those who want to engage in real, authentic projects with equitable outcomes for their business, their team and those they collaborate with
- Businesses who are keen to understand projects that are more complex than license agreements, and the value attached to that.

Key Takeaways:
- Specific ideas on collaborative models
- What a collaborative agreement might look like and how to get there
- What to expect from an authentic collaboration, its reach and possible outcomes for the business and the collaborator
- Ideas and pathways to help enable businesses to meet the needs of corporate commitments to diversity
We felt incredibly grateful to have Lisa Gorman speak at The Huddle. Lisa was hilarious, relatable and inspiring. A born story teller, our guests were captivated as she confidently commanded the stage and took the audience on a journey. The Huddle
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