So the fashion big guns are at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week in Sydney this week. On the other end of the spectrum, Melbourne provides such fabulous support for emerging young designers and I like to do my bit. So today’s HOT Chat is with Jacqui Alexander, an experienced fashion designer at the tender age of 21 who designs the label Skinny Nelson with her business partner. Thanks Jacqui!

Jacqui AlexanderJacqui, tell me a bit more about your background in fashion design?

I grew up in the fashion industry watching behind the scenes for years as my father Sasha Krivitsky, and fashion mentor, ran a factory manufacturing for Saba and Scanlan & Theodore, launched his own fashion label and eventually managed three fashion labels in Australia.

When I was 17 I launched my first label ‘Jacqui Alexander’ and by 18 was stocked in Australia and around the world – I was the youngest designer stocked at British department store Harvey Nichols.

You started in the fashion industry so young! Looking back now what were the highlights from the experience?

Starting at 18 creating my first line was a very exciting ride and learning experience. My standout moment was watching, from backstage, my first show at fashion week. It’s really such a culmination of all your hard work and creative efforts and there’s nothing like seeing your dream come to life on the runway.

In 2009 you launched your label Skinny Nelson with your business partner Zachary Midalia. What’s the inspiration, style aesthetic and eco philosophy behind the clothing?

The inspiration for Skinny Nelson comes from the minimalist style and aesthetic of both Japanese and Scandinavian fashion. The eco philosophy stems from a personal philosophy of doing what we can to be a little better to the earth. Where we can use organic cotton we do because even if it’s on a small scale it’s still worth doing something good. Accessibility is important in the world of Skinny Nelson so we offer the market quality fabrications in basics with an unpretentious price tag ranging from tanks at $40 up to $160 for knitted pieces

You’ve just released your second season for Skinny Nelson (in store mid-August). What are your style tips for Spring Summer 2010/11?

Spring summer is all about light layering. Taking cropped styles and layering them on top of longer pieces. It’s something we always get to do in winter but this season sees layers working for warmer weather too.

Where do you turn for design advice and fashion inspiration?

Design advice mostly comes from my father if its something technical or for styling support I ask my fashionable friends. It’s great to get their input because ultimately they are my target market. Inspiration definitely comes from street watching and travel.

What’s a typical work day for you and what advice would you give to someone starting their own business?

There’s no such thing as a typical work day in fashion! My days are a mix of design, production and communication. Organised chaos! My advice for starting their own business would be to watch a mentor for a while or get enough experience to know all the facets of what is involved with not only being a designer,  but also running a fashion business.

Finally, what HOT places and things do you love about Melbourne?

I love eating and drinking in Melbourne! The list hot spots is way too long in Melbourne but most recently I took friends from interstate on a night out in Curtin House. We started with a delicious Thai meal at Cookie followed by cocktails on the Rooftop Bar overlooking the city. So good.

Skinny Nelson‘s Winter collection is currentlyavailable from select boutiques nationally  including Fat (VIC), That Store (NSW & VIC), Somedays/Somewhere (NSW & VIC), Subway DC and Ricarda (WA), Violent Green and Side Street (QLD) and Mycatwalk.com. The Spring/Summer 2010 collection will be in stores from mid-August 2010.

For other HOT chats with interesting Melburnians, click here.