“Aesthetically, Club Venus merges the underworld of ’90s raver and [the] futuristic woman.
Walking into one of Melbourne’s now-defunct underground clubs six years ago, I was overwhelmed by the varied beauty and imaginative creativity of the late-night revelers. Before you even entered the room, the line meandered was a wondrous bevy of colors and textures, where reflective tech clothing met neo-Gothic fashion and sparkling rave outfits. For designer Charlotte England, this unique clubbing culture was the catalyst for her own brand, Club Venus.
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After moving from Canberra to Melbourne, Charlotte found herself immersed in the city’s “thriving and enigmatic” electronic music subculture. Wanting new wardrobe pieces to wear on her nights out, she tried her hand at creating her own clubwear and Club Venus was born. Below, Charlotte reflects on her journey so far.
Tell us about you. What is your fashion/jewellery background?
I never had a traditional start in the industry. I have loved fashion since I can remember. Although my interests fluctuated throughout my childhood (from being an avid dancer to obsessing over film photography and even creative writing), fashion design was always my only creative love.
I grew up in an inspiring and supportive home, but I felt lost after high school, as many often do. I did not believe that fashion could become my real career. I am originally from Canberra. In the capital, [it felt like] jobs like that just don’t exist.
I quickly realized that I had the power to choose where my life was going. It was a kind of stimulating realization. So, I packed my bags and moved. I quickly found myself situated in a thriving and enigmatic subculture here at Naarm – the electronic music scene – and saw my two loves collide.
How did the label start? Tell us about the process and the challenges.
There wasn’t really a defining moment of departure. For the past six years, I’ve sold clothing in one form or another – both vintage clothing and pieces I’ve made – but it’s always been just a hobby. I moved to Naarm to study fashion at RMIT a few years ago, which was my first formal introduction to the industry.
After just a year of falling in love with this city and its people, COVID hit. It was truly life changing. For the first time, I was able to slow down and assess what I was doing. Club Venus was born in December 2020. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind…but not without setbacks. I constantly find myself on this huge learning curve.
If it wasn’t for the great fashion industry here at Naarm and the people I met, I would have struggled. This year, I took the plunge and quit my second job. I went from making clothes in my living room to a studio in Brunswick. I continue to manufacture everything myself but I will soon be looking for contract machinists for the summer collection. It’s moving so fast.
What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has that evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now?
It’s kind of a representation of me trying to find my way in the world like a lot of other young people do. I think I’ve been on this journey for a while now and it’s fully reflected in the evolution of Club Venus. The musical community I found myself in is a huge source of inspiration for the clothes I make.
It all started when I was looking for clothes to dance. I couldn’t find what I wanted aesthetically or ethically – so I did it myself. I loved it so much that I just wanted to keep creating and sharing that joy with others. Club Venus has had many forms [over the years]and I hope to see it evolve for many more years.
The brand is based on my thirst for change in the industry. Through the project, I hope to promote ethical and local manufacturing as the norm by solidifying the concepts of slow fashion in the mind of the consumer. I want to bring energetic, expressionist clothing to more sustainable futures.
Keeping [my brand] small and local is extremely important to me. But more than that, I hope to create a community where everyone can come and explore their full expression, in an open and loving space. Just like what the dance scene has done for me over the years.
How would you describe Club Venus to someone who has never seen it before?
Aesthetically, Club Venus merges the underworld of ’90s raver and [the] futuristic woman. I create investment pieces and clubwear basics that can be worn day or night. I tend to use a lot of neutral or dark colors… it’s like the revival of gothic. I also play a lot with fantasy, magic and dark spirituality.
I lived in Germany when I was younger. One day, I hope to see my creations in metropolitan meccas like Berlin, Copenhagen or London… New York too. If I had to describe the brand to someone from a visual point of view in three words, I would say that it is grunge, urban and sexy.
Where does the name come from?
I have always been intrigued by the human experience and our obsession with escape and desire. Venus, Roman goddess, rules love and beauty. She somehow embodies lust. I love its depiction in ancient art and, of course, its acquisition of the planet closest to us.
It is the crossroads where myth and fantasy collide with harsh reality. There is an inferred element of sexy futurism. I wanted something that also represented community and belonging. Thus, Club Venus was born!
What are you most proud of in your work on your label?
Probably the cargo pants! I dated them about a year ago and people went crazy for them. It’s a bit outrageous to think of how many times I’ve done it, all by myself. They are available in sporty recycled nylon lycra, bamboo/organic cotton velor and sporty nylon mesh. I want to make a second edition for the summer in hemp linen.
What did you wish you had known when you started?
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t in such a rush to get started. Doing an internship or another job in the industry could have served me well after my studies. But I wouldn’t change that for the world. The experience I’ve gained has been very hands-on, which is incredibly rewarding. I’m proud of the fact that this is an organically grown company. In any case, that’s what slow fashion is!
Who do you think is the most exciting in Australian fashion right now?
Ramp Tramp Tramp Stamp, Maroske Peech, Alix Higgins and Posture Studio.
What about the Australian fashion industry that needs to change?
I’ve already seen a lot of change in the Australian fashion industry over the past two years, which has been amazing. There is a real push to bring manufacturing back to Australia after massive relocation a few decades ago. I think there could be more government incentives to speed up this process. With each other’s support, we can collaborate, support and strengthen the industry for a better future!
Dream Australian collaborators?
Distal Phalanx, Ebony Munro, Rose Pure, Sexiaz Lingerie, House Arrest, Lucky Tooth Gems, Miscellania and Terminal Six.
Must-read list for a dinner party?
Well, if it wasn’t already obvious, I love dance music. For the dinner part I would put on something sexy from a series of local mixes, like Animalia, Butter Sessions or Area 3000. Naarm has an outrageous and energetic electronic dance scene – but anything from an Australian label like Fluxx or Meganesia would do. work!
My friend Lucy just released a new track, ‘Break Up Song’ (remixed by Eben), which has been on repeat. To party late into the night, you could probably expect to hear hard dancing too, at a Haptic, Rendition or Slamross1000 event. Other favorite club nights include Dutty Worldwide, Framework and Techworld. Too many to count!
Who’s in your wardrobe right now?
Most of what I own is vintage. This season I’ve been collecting ugly 90s and early 2000s bridesmaid corsets, football shorts, trench coats and silky scarves. Other than that, I try to support smaller independent brands like Karlaidlaw, Alix Higgins, Be Right Back, Krystal Deans and Club Venus – of course.
How can we buy one of your parts?
Via our online store or one of our resellers: Sucker and Blonde Concept.
Anything else to add?
You will also be able to find us soon during some special collaborative evenings at Naarm! You can keep up to date on our social media pages to find out when. My main project is a new collection that I am frantically preparing, which will be online on August 16th. I’m so excited for this new collection and everything to come. Remember that the world is yours!
Start browsing the Club Venus collection here.