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Hobes Girls

Virginia Martin, Designer

On a cold Melbourne morning, Georgia caught up with búl founder Virginia Martin to chat about New York, Melbourne, and the inspiration behind her AW 16 collection.

G: When did you start designing?
V: I studied clothing production for a year in Melbourne, then finished and went straight into design. I started a label when I was nineteen, it was all made in Melbourne and was sold to ten different stores around Australia. It was really low key; I made all the samples and the patterns myself. I continued doing this and worked in retail for about four years, until I decided that I wanted more experience. So I moved to New York and did a few internships over there.

G: How long were you in New York for?
V: I was there for a year and did three internships; the first was with Cynthia Rowley, I then went to Heatherette: and following that, Proenzer Schouler. After a year was up, I needed to get out of the big concrete city and ended up moving to California. I found a place to work and did another internship, which then turned into a design assistant role in Newport Beach, Orange County. I was there for 6 months before returning to Australia to start the label.

G: So the aim was to get more experience and eventually return to your own label in Australia?
V: Yes, that was the aim. When I originally started my own label in my late teens, I working really long hours and was getting a bit burnt out. I wanted to do something different, travel, learn more and then return to Australia. I learnt so much from all the internships I did. They were all so different, and I was able to learn what to do and what not to do in the industry, how they do it, and how they do things differently. Afterwards I came back to Australia and launched búl. I started off with retail only, we didn’t do wholesale. We had a store in Curtin House in the city, and then a year later we opened our store on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy.

G: Where did the name búl come from?
V: It’s my nickname! I’ve had it since I was really young, my brother couldn’t say Virginia so he said búl instead!

G: What inspired your latest collection?
V: Each collection is based on a different country, the colour pallet, prints and overall feel for the collection is inspired by the countries landscape, architecture, culture, traditional dress - which brings back to my love of travel. This collection I was inspired by the Icelandic wild extremes, sharp contrasts and pristine landscapes of the eerily dark country.

G: Do you travel a lot?
V: I love travelling. It’s where I try to draw most of my inspiration. You can get stuck in a bit of a Melbourne bubble then you go travelling and realise there actually a big bad world out there!

G: What is your favourite place to visit when you’re back in Melbourne?
V: I really love going out to Heidi Museum of Modern Art to see what they have on and just sit in the gardens there. It’s quite close but it’s nice to leave the city and make a day trip out of it.

For more on Virginia and búl, visit