Pambula, on the NSW South Coast, and Kingston ACT are polar opposites. The former is a sleepy seaside village with a bakery on the main street, a couple of pubs and a caravan park adjacent to the beach. The latter, located four kilometres from the city, is the oldest, most densely populated suburb in Canberra.
But a revamp in recent years has turned Kingston into something even better than it was before. It now features some of our nation’s capital’s finest hotels (Hotel Realm), eateries (Onzieme) and apartments (Kingston Foreshore development). Nevertheless these two spots have one thing in common – designer Megan Luhrs.
Megan is the artistic push behind Goldfinch the Label, an enterprise with an established studio/shop in Pambula and a newer pop-up addition in Kingston. A recent family move to the capital city prompted her to launch the second outlet and Canberrans have welcomed her bohemian/rock-chic inspired designs with open arms.
Even though Megan’s outlets are located three hours apart they have a common thread. They are mindfully curated with a focus on sustainable practices and ethical production. However, the spaces differ.
The flagship store on the South Coast is in a historic building, while the new urban space is modern, light and airy. The associated label – that’s sold in both outlets and other fashion houses around the country – was launched in 2020. The garments feature clean lines and no-nonsense shapes with a nod to the 60s and 70s. Signature pieces from the label include organic cotton denim skirts and wide leg 70s-style trousers.
But it’s not just that Megan juggles the two outlets, it’s her focus on sustainable practices and ethical production that she assiduously applies to her garment designs that’s really the thing.
“I’ve always been a big advocate for sustainability,” Megan says. “Even at design school in Melbourne in my youth I opted for unbleached canvas and water-based inks.
“Now my clothing label features EcoTex approved linen and denim. It’s completely biodegradable which means it’s the real deal as far as eco fabrics are concerned. But it’s not always possible to use something that pure. For example, the corduroy that I employ in some of the items in my range has a miniscule amount of spandex in it. But you can only try your best.”
The past couple of years haven’t been plain sailing for most designers, entrepreneurs and business owners. The Luhrs family struggled to keep things afloat throughout the Black Summer fires, the pandemic and the home schooling of their children that ensued. But Megan somehow kept Goldfinch on course.
Many of her fabric suppliers also took a knock during this period, with many of them only just regaining a sense of equilibrium.
“It was terrible what COVID did to the supply chain, devastating in some instances. Some businesses and individuals simply didn’t recover. Goldfinch is only a small batch label, so I’m not professing to change the world. But I’m a big believer that as a company or an individual, we must make an effort with our choices and the things we consume. It can and must make a difference.
“I set out to create a label that’s a modern reimagining of the generation defining designs of the rock and glamour of a bygone era while still honouring the ethos of ethical fashion. All my products are made in Australia using sustainably sourced fabrics.
“I’ve only been operating in Canberra for 12 months and I can really see that my customers truly embrace my business ethos.”
In fact, the response to Goldfinch the Label has been so good that plans are afoot for Megan to relocate from the Cusack Centre into a larger space on nearby Jardine Street.
“The new Goldfinch space will launch in June,” she says. “It fronts Green Square which is gathering traction as the place to be for independent designers and entrepreneurs. It’s glamourous, urbane and always abuzz with people.
“Goldfinch is for customers who truly value quality over quantity, shop consciously, and love to support local artisans and independent designers. If we all make an effort to focus on those choices it has a real trickle through effect.
“It’s got a lovely sense of old meets new and it’s a real hub with all the cafes, wine bars and entrepreneurs. You can come here and buy fashion, books, art. Get your hair done. Go to a yoga class. Meet a friend for a drink.
“Watch this space,” Megan says with a laugh.
Goldfinch the Label: Now: Cusack Centre, Eyre Street, Kingston. Open 7 days, 10:30 am – 4 pm. Early June: Shop 1/45 Jardine Street, Kingston. Open 7 days, 10:30 am – 4 pm. Pambula: Shop 1/33 Quondola St, Pambula NSW 2549.