Fashion designer Lisa Gorman departs Gorman label after 22 years as creative director

The fashion designer Lisa Gorman will depart the business that bears her surname, after 22 years in business.

Known for her colourful prints, artist collaborations and playful, almost childlike cuts, Gorman’s womenswear label has built up a cult following in Australia, with fans trading and reselling popular garments online through dedicated Facebook groups.

Founded in 1999, Gorman sold to local conglomerate Factory X – which also owns high street stores Dangerfield, Princess Highway and Jack London – in 2010. Since the sale, the brand has expanded to over 50 bricks and mortar stores, including dedicated children’s boutiques, and also retails online.

“The Gorman label has achieved a level of recognition within the Australian fashion landscape that I could not have imagined,” Gorman said in a statement.

“I thank those that made it happen. My incredible design team, all my staff, partners and the 114 artists I have had the pleasure of collaborating with over two decades. Most of all I thank my loyal customers who have supported the label from its ‘fishing pants’ beginnings.”

Lisa Gorman’s tenure as creative director since the Factory X acquisition has been marked by moments of controversy, largely related to changes in the brand’s manufacturing process. Gorman had always positioned itself as a socially conscious label, however in 2016 the brand’s parent company received a failing score on the annual Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Report.

This triggered an enormous backlash from the label’s fans.

Speaking with Guardian Australia in 2019, Gorman described the grade as “extraordinarily unfair” – the F score was given because Factory X did not collaborate with the report’s researchers, not because of concrete findings of misdeeds.

“It was personally kind of harrowing,” Gorman said in 2019. “I knew that we worked with good factories, I knew that we weren’t using children. We were accused of all sorts of things.”

In subsequent years, Factory X has worked closely with the report’s researchers, and in the 2021 report, the Gorman label received a B grade.

Lisa Gorman is yet to announce her next project, however her departure statement hints that something may be in the works. “This chapter has now closed for me personally, making way for new creative endeavours,” she stated.

In a statement, the Factory X managing director, David Heeney, said: “We wish Lisa all the very best for the future and we thank her for her contribution. It has been a great 12 years working with Lisa and she will be sorely missed by myself and the whole team.”

Factory X says the Gorman brand will continue to operate under the existing creative team.

“For those continuing the label into the future, I wish you all the very best,” Lisa Gorman stated. “I have no doubt you will continue to bring the beauty of colour and print into the world of our customer.’’