Wanted muscle tee ($79)
When you think of spaghetti westerns, names such as the late film director Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood and film-score maestros such as Ennio Morricone come to mind.
For Melbourne-based designer Hannah Chipkin, who runs the label Chip Chop!, it was exactly this combination that inspired her decision to fuse a little bit of cowboy outlaw and sexy siren in her spring/summer 2011-12 collection, aptly titled Bang Bang Baby!
The young designer has combined a touch of rolling tumbleweeds with a groomed 1960s starlet fever for her campaign, girls in shorts, T-shirts with countrified slogans and a hint of cowboy ranch to the mix.
Chipkin launched Chip Chop! back in 2006 and made sure that each collection has always based itself on a playful theme. She chooses destinations and builds around locations accordingly – previous themes have included all things French (we love the “So You Think You’re From France” canvas tote) and now it’s all about the Wild?West.
“For me it’s about taking inspiration from spaghetti westerns, glamorous ’60s movie starlets, fake western movie sets and the iconic imagery of the midwest,” says Chipkin. “We have created a collection fit for cowgirls and outlaws alike.”
The collection was always intended to be fun and it fits in nicely for summer. It’s dressed in plenty of chic attitude and remains feminine in the toughest of ways – think silk shift dresses with leather detailing, linen blazers, box-cut jackets, rope-detailed frill dresses, sheer panel dresses, lace-up tops and printed silk T-shirts (what Chipkin says is a luxe twist on the regular T-shirt).
Chip Chop! is big on word play; life’s a game for Chipkin who sees no reason to be too conservative in her approach. There are silk blouses with slogans that read “Paris Texas”; a “Wanted” muscle tank and an “El Dorado” oversized T-shirt too. This latest collection follows other popular items including the “No Merci”, “J’Adore” and “Wild Bling” tops.
Aside from her upbeat tops, Chipkin, is also known for her totes – think washed-denim finishes and canvas where she puts her graphic wordplay to good use.
She also recently collaborated with the Australian Ballet and brought a touch of her tote expertise to the institution with the teeny “Tiny Dancer” and “Pavlova” tote (both cleverly quirky in their intentions).
Chipkin works in rhymes, loves a bit of slang and relies on puns to deliver her punch line – we love her Hall of Fame section on her website from the “Have Merci” T-shirt to the “Does My Bag Look Big In This” XXXXXL bag – you get the gist that she likes to keep you smiling.
“The tote was the perfect starting piece for Chip Chop!. It was simple, eco-friendly, practical and an easy canvas for my graphics,” says Chipkin. who has completed a degree in visual communication at the University of Technology in Sydney and worked in graphic design and copywriting before starting her?label.
“At the time there were far fewer printed bags on the market and Chip Chop! has since developed the reputation for making the humble canvas tote famous. The trusty tote has literally been a canvas for my designs ever since,” she says.
A few years after she launched her brand, Chipkin was invited to produce a capsule collection for Sportsgirl as part of its Young Designer program.
It’s a career milestone she is proud of and she has certainly come a long way since. In fact, that collection quickly sold out and helped put Chip Chop! on the contemporary fashion map. “They know about us in Sweden and Iceland apparently,” she quips.
She says the reason her brand is doing well is because few have filled the market she pitches to.
“In a way I feel Chip Chop! has filled the niche of tongue-in-chic with our simple printed totes and tees and now with more sophisticated apparel but still retaining that bold, signature aesthetic,” she says.
What’s more, Chipkin has made the economic downturn in retail sales work to her advantage. She approaches her workload like a band writing a hit?record.
“It’s about creating winners, not filler,” she says.
“Yes, spending has dropped lately, but the customer is still prepared to spend on something they love. They are savvier, and unnecessary spending has subsided. I think it’s more about understanding what the customer would love to have. In light of this, one of the things we are doing is bringing back old favourites that have stood the test of time just in time for Christmas.”