Wardrobe Crisis Podcast: Clare Press Meets A.BCH Designer Courtney Holm

Name to know: Australian label A.BCH. This quiet achiever was a stand-out at Helsinki fashion week. Clare Press meets the designer Courtney Holm on the Wardrobe Crisis podcast.

For a new generation of fashion talent, sustainable is the only way to go. “I wouldn’t have been able to start a label that was just dabbling in sustainability,” says Courtney Holm, of the Australian brand A.BCH, which just showed at Helsinki fashion week. “It was all or nothing for me.”

Listen to the full interview here.

Holm studied fashion in Sydney, and launched A.BCH two years ago in Melbourne, where she is at the centre of a cluster of eco-aware, ethically minded emerging fashion names. It includes ArnsdorfKalaurieLois Hazel, footwear factory Post Sole Studio and vegan bag brand Ahimsa Collective. Several of these labels (including Holm’s) have been part of the Australian Fashion Council’s Curated mentorship program.

First, Holm did her homework. “I researched everything obsessively,” she says. Actually, she’s still doing it. “You can never stop.” 

The name stands for Article by Courtney Holm and has practical meaning. “Every style has a number assigned to it. Customers can search the codes on our website. Even if we don’t sell that piece anymore, they can see the whole supply chain and how we made it.” Down to the tiny things like threads, interlinings and buttons. “I started the label because I wasn’t seeing that happen,” says Holm. “I wanted to change things. We’re trying to revolutionise how people buy, wear and ultimately dispose of clothing.”

Holm, like the most exciting of her fashion peers globally, is challenging the industry’s established ways of operating. 

A.BCH is direct to consumer so they don’t have to squeeze their make price for wholesale. It’s hyper transparent, minimalist and inspired by cradle to cradle thinking. “If you’re not thinking about the end of life of a product at the design stage, you haven’t finished – that’s incomplete design!”

She makes locally, is Ethical Clothing Australia Accredited and says these processes allow her to be agile as well as transparent and ethical: “We can do small runs. We can test them, then decide it want to make more. It’s actually very speedy. It’s almost like slow fashion and fast fashion collide.”

But don’t go thinking Holm takes herself too seriously. There’s a playful element to A.BCH. For a recent capsule using un-dyed materials, the model was photographed without makeup. And last Black Friday, Holm ran a Reverse Sale – she actually put prices up. 


All images credit: Katie Goodwin.

Discover more Wardrobe Crisis podcast episodes including Livia Firth’s interview here

Subscribe to Wardrobe Crisis for more inspiring conversations about the fashion system and its impact on people and the planet.