Imagine a 20-year-old fashion graduate from Australia turning down a gig with iconic designer Donna Karan. Crazy, some would say. But Toni Maticevski has always known when to trust his gut. Sure, he was hungry enough, but having seen the machine of “big fashion” up close during his internship at Karan’s New York powerhouse, the young talent from Melbourne knew a full-time job there wasn’t the right fit. “I just couldn’t work in that system,” he says. “Everything was so planned and there was simply no room to be spontaneous.”
Designer Toni Maticevski surrounded by models at his Grand Showcase for the Melbourne Fashion Festival in March 2020.
Putting creative vision first has paid off. After flying back to Melbourne to launch his eponymous label in 1999, Maticevski quickly became a breakout star in the Australian fashion scene. Sculpting architectural dresses that give glamour a contemporary edge – making wearable works of art from materials such as scuba neoprene and sports mesh – his evolving vision has had global fashion buyers clamouring and clients from Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Beyoncé to Jennifer Lopez and Katy Perry lining up ever since. But while he’s also mastered the business of fashion, Maticevski says his aim is simply “to make women feel beautiful and protected and show them as they desire to be”.
This quest for beauty has intrigued him since his childhood, growing up in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray. “When I was 13, I saw the Balenciaga retrospective at the National Gallery of Victoria – it was there that I knew I wanted to be part of creating beautiful things.”
Looks from Maticevski’s Resort 2022 collection.
It’s a career that has taken him around the world. In the times before international border restrictions, travel was an integral part of building Maticevski’s international reputation and client base, with regular trips to Paris each season. As a Qantas Business Rewards member, he saves up to eight per cent on the base fare of selected Qantas flights. He also earns Qantas Points three times on Qantas flights when using his American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card to pay: that’s 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible flights, points for the Qantas Frequent Flyer taking the trip, and additional points for the business when he enters his ABN into the booking. All these points can be put towards future trips, helping the business to manage cashflow.
“Each year we hold a showroom in Sydney so we can meet with stylists and journalists to lock in editorial coverage and dressing opportunities. It's really important within the industry that you continue those relationships and that networking. We also hold a two-day look book shoot in Melbourne each season. That means we need models, photographers, make-up artists and stylists from around the country and we book all of those flights with points earned using our American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card.”
Despite his global reputation, Maticevski remains famously hands-on with his work, from sketching the initial design to sewing, cutting and draping garments himself. It is, he says, “the part of the job I find most fulfilling – it’s the key reason I launched my label”.
That attention to detail means he’s always looking for ways to improve his practice, which last year led to the launch of a homewares collection that repurposed leftover fabrics from his clothing lines. Even more eye-catching (and sustainable) is the Animator Overcoat he designed for Australian Fashion Week – a flowing garment that looks like it’s made from molten metal. Crafted from code rather than cloth, it can only be worn virtually and introduced many people to the concept of “Digi-Couture”.
The virtual “Animator Overcoat” Maticevski designed for Australian Fashion Week 2021.
It’s yet another example of Maticevski following his own path in the relentless search for inspiration and one of the secrets of his continuing success. “I like making things that are purely creative experiments and may not necessarily have a home or place anywhere except in my own development,” he says. “That means exploring the unexpected and pushing the boundaries and imagination. It’s essential in fashion, which always needs to evolve and shift to survive.”
Unlock the possibilities
Toni Maticevski shares his top small business tips.
• The key to… managing large payments
“Before we got our Amex Card, processing payments was especially challenging with large amounts. Our Amex Card makes our day-to-day easier.” There’s no pre-set spending limit on the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card – each business is approved for an adjustable spend capacity that suits its needs. Maticevski can use his Card to make big purchases for his business with one click. Businesses can also earn 0.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent on insurance, utilities and government expenses using the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card: a payment of $150,000 to the ATO, for example, would earn 75,000 Qantas Points.
• The key to... delegating tasks
“I have a small, strong team of 10 individuals who love what they do and are passionate about the overall success of the business. They understand and trust my methods because we work collaboratively and I trust in them and their abilities, too, which makes any handover a lot easier.”
• The key to… maintaining strong relationships
“Even in a global business it’s important to keep things personal. When I travel, I’m nurturing my brand by sitting down with journalists, having dinner with buyers and engaging with important clients. I use my Amex Card all around the world and every time I catch an Uber or take a client out to dinner, I’m earning Qantas Points towards my next flight.”
• The key to… developing a sustainable business
Maticevski’s business has a Sustainable and Ethical Policy and, unlike fast fashion, has a transparent and short supply chain. The team is able to identify, by name, the individual that cut, machined, pressed or sewed a button on any garment. “We also think outside the box when it comes to recycling, reusing and reimagining a purpose for what would be considered waste. We have a 200-square-metre warehouse filled with offcuts and unfinished fabric rolls and the Objects D’ Collection repurposes those fabrics to create objects of beauty and value. Other remnant fabric, off-cuts and fabric swatches from previous production runs are either sold or donated to learning institutions and other manufacturers.”
• The key to… getting the most out of meetings
“When I travel internationally, I have a very busy schedule so it’s important to get the most out of my time. Using Qantas Points, I occasionally upgrade to Business, which allows me to step off the plane feeling fresh and at the top of my game.”
• The key to... juggling finances
“I use my Amex Card on a daily basis to pay for anything from shoes on a look-book shoot to large supplier invoices, which can come to $20,000 or $30,000 a month. When we have a hefty bill come in on top of that, having up to 51 days to pay for purchases on my Card helps alleviate the pressure.”
*120,000 bonus Qantas Points: Offer only available to new American Express Card Members who apply by 2 November 2022, are approved and spend $3,000 on their new Card in the first two (2) months from the Card approval date. Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any other Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the preceding 18 month period are ineligible for this offer. 120,000 Bonus Qantas Points will be awarded to the eligible Card Member's Account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. Subject to the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and Conditions. $450 annual fee applies. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer.