The Beginning of A.P. MODA
How does a farmer become a fashion retailer and designer? The trajectory to creating your own fashion label is usually straightforward – an interest in design and fashion is a fundamental starting point, followed by an education and career in the industry. But for Liz Robinson, her pathway has been completely unconventional.
Back in 2003 Liz and her partner Keith found themselves living in an empty-nest when both their children moved out of home. Wanting to fill the void in their hearts, they purchased a few alpacas to munch on the grass under their chestnut orchard. Liz and Keith quickly became obsessed with these captivating animals, and their herd has grown from three to over 100 alpacas.
When Liz and Keith first started breeding alpacas, the Australian industry was very new and little was being done to promote the alpaca wool that was being shorn from their alpacas each year. They saw the opportunity and started importing a few alpaca jumpers and ponchos from South America and sold them in a small shop on their farm, which they named Alpaca Passion.
Nowadays Alpaca Passion is the premier alpaca fashion boutique in Australia and Liz and Keith have been successfully showcasing the alpaca fleece to customers in Daylesford, Victoria for over 10 years. One of the most sustainable and luxurious natural fibres, alpaca wool is known for its soft handle, supreme warmth, incredible lightness and durability. You just have to touch it to understand why the ancient Incans called alpaca wool “the fibre of the gods”.
Despite being a contributing factor for the reason why Liz and Keith first welcomed alpacas into their lives, their daughter Cassie has always been involved with both the farming and fashion businesses. Whether it was because she helped out at shearing-time, worked in the store part-time while studying, or just listened to her parents bang-on about alpacas at the dinner table (a lot), Cassie has inherited her parents’ passion for everything alpaca. After working in the fashion and publishing industries for 10 years, Cassie decided to join the family business full time in February 2016.
Since then, Liz and Cassie have worked towards starting their own label A.P. MODA, with the aim to bring alpaca wool into every woman’s wardrobe. Launched in 2017 and named after their store and the Spanish word for fashion, A.P. MODA is a contemporary alpaca womenswear label. The range consists of timeless classics and sophisticated staples including knitwear, coats, accessories and homewares.
Within the A.P. MODA range, Liz and Cassie want their customers to be able to find their new favourite jumper for snuggling in, or a statement coat to wear to events when the temperatures are absolutely freezing, or a lightweight poncho they can throw into their bag when they’re heading to the movies in summer and know the air-conditioning is going to be way too cold. And they want these items for their customers because they are exactly the pieces they have been hunting for from other stores and labels over the years, and haven’t been able to find.
Liz and Cassie work directly with suppliers and designers in Peru and Bolivia to ensure the A.P. MODA collection includes the highest quality, most affordable and fashionable alpaca garments available today. They travel to Peru twice yearly to visit their factories, attend trade shows, and meet with their designers, who have welcomed Liz and Cassie into their homes and families. Despite these trips, their Spanish has only marginally improved, but if you ever need some restaurant recommendations be sure to ask them!
While Liz still likes to claim that she is just an alpaca farmer from the country, anyone who has visited Alpaca Passion in Daylesford or already owns a piece from the inaugural A.P. MODA range knows that while this may be true, she definitely has an understated sense of fashion and design and is well on her way to making an alpaca jumper a go-to piece in everyone’s wardrobe.