Inside The Thrifty Wardrobe of A_C Official Founder Tessa Carroll

Inside The Thrifty Wardrobe of A_C Official Founder Tessa Carroll
Ilona Marchetta

Sustainability & Home Editor

Oct 13, 2021

We adore A_C Official as the Melbourne-based accessories brand nailing minimal style and pioneering sustainability in the process. The brand uses innovative plant-based leathers such as Desserto Cactus Leather, Piñatex® and, newest of all, Sileather , and recently moved to the on-demand production model that we need to see more of in the fashion industry.

With such a gorgeous design aesthetic, we suspected A_C Official founder Tessa Carroll would have an equally gorgeous approach to living sustainably and we were keen to get inside her thrifty wardrobe (how about that $20 Hugo Boss find!).

Here are Tessa’s own words about her approach to business, choosing to work with the materials that she does, and living a sustainable life.

“A_C Official was born out of a love for design and a commitment to the earth.

The brand’s design principles are based on a Circular Economy, producing contemporary but timeless styles for the modern market who recognises the need to safeguard our future. The journey from concept to construction is a considered one, ensuring the production of our accessories is kind to the planet, people and animals.

I stopped consuming animal products in a bid to reduce my environmental impact.

From there I recognised the need to avoid animal leather except that’s where the problems began. It didn’t seem right that I had to choose between ‘animal leather’ and ‘vegan leather’ which is really just made of plastic. The word ‘vegan’ will always mean cruelty-free but this is relation to the life of the animal, and not in relation to its sustainability. I knew I wouldn’t be the only one who didn’t want to be buying a ‘plastic’ bag so I set out to create my own.

Tessa Carroll

Sustainability to me is a way of life. It doesn’t mean I am perfect at it.

It is a journey. Sustainability to me is how you consider your impact on this planet and make choices that limit the effect. It varies from choosing to sit in and drink my coffee, to insisting my sushi is packed in paper bag and without soy sauce in plastic (thankfully they always have bottles on the tables). These are tiny changes but honestly every bit counts. We don’t need 100 people doing ’sustainable life’ perfectly – we need millions of people doing sustainable life imperfectly but trying.

Thrift-shopping is my jam.

I generally use only thrifted items for my campaigns because honestly, that’s where a lot of my inspiration comes from (plus thats generally where I shop personally!) I believe with the right accessories you can elevate any outfit.

Thrifted Hugo Boss suit

For my most recent shoot I found this impeccable Hugo Boss men’s suit for $20.00 (!!!!) in a Salvos in Richmond.

Tessa Carroll's thrifted Converse

Some of my own key pieces that I love and wear myself are a $9 pair of Connies that had never been worn. I found these babies in the little boys section (I’m a pint sized 5.2 blonde with a 6.5 foot!).

Tessa Carroll's thrifted Ralph Lauren belt

Another is this incredible vintage Ralph Lauren belt I bought at the Camberwell Markets for $11. The colours of it inspired my latest collection so much so that I am working on a limited edition range for 2022 with tan lined black bags.

Tessa Carroll's thrifted fringe jacket

Last of all, my ultimate second hand piece is this insane 70’s fringe jacket I bought in a Swap Meet in Brooklyn NYC for $100. I would spend it over again on this jacket – it’s my power suit and one I bust out for special occasions like when Fleetwood Mac toured in 2019.

As crazy as it sounds, right now I am inspired by the constraints that we are finding ourselves in.
Sometimes when you’re a designer you crave boundaries as they give you a framework to leap from. Lockdowns have taught me to step into the present and create content that I would never have otherwise created. For my latest campaign I managed it remotely with my incredible model Jae Lin. To do this, I had all my garments and styles delivered to her apartment and then spent the day on FaceTime while she tethered her camera to the computer and shot herself on a timer. Sure, we could have achieved a similar aesthetic outside of lockdown but the process distilled how clear my vision is for the brand and the collection.

It’s easy to get caught up in our ‘have-nots’ but honestly, the simplest things are inspiring to me at the moment. I just have to remember to keep an open mind.”


By Ilona Marchetta

Sustainability & Home Editor

Ilona Marchetta is The Carousel's Home and Sustainability Editor. She is a change manager and journalist specialising in sustainability. Ilona is passionate about slow and mindful living, from fashion to interiors to beauty and self care.


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