Spend 5: Cathy & Brenda, Alpha-Be

ALPHA – BE, the brainchild of Cathy Karuga and Brenda Chung is the kind of label that feels like Christmas morning in July. It is the kind of Christmas where you can have all the trimmings sans the guilt. Delivering striking silhouettes and eye-catching prints, the ready-to-wear label facilitates bold fashion statements and unique designs without compromising on quality and price point. It is the kind of label that makes fashion fun again, allowing women to take calculated fashion risks without having to pull out their calculators.

Going from strength to strength since launching in 2015, the Adelaide-based label has attracted a strong local following leading to the recently launched collaborative space in the heart of the city. Not a small feat in a fickle market where most new labels don’t make it past their second year. With their Contemporary Versus Street Adelaide Fashion Festival runway show just around the corner, we Spend 5 with the dynamic duo whose personalities are as vibrant as their prints.

Name: Cathy Karuga & Brenda Chang

Occupation: Fashion Designers

Star signs: Pisces & Aquarius

Nicknames: Ceakay & Bwendee

Fashion comes from: Self expression

We met: Through work

The ALPHA BE story goes: Two girls who love wearing unique fabulous pieces met at work and put their minds together to fill a gap in the market in well priced but fashion forward pieces. We always felt like we couldn’t find anything unique to wear to our Friday and Saturday events

It all began with: Complaining we had nothing to wear and finding a solution for that

… and now: We have just launched our office and creative collaborative space, have showcased in NYFW and are thrilled to be a part of AFF for the second time in a row

Currently working on: Showcasing our Resort collection while also designing new pieces for our linen capsule collection. We are also working on launching our Creative50 Hub in the heart of Adelaide which is a collaborative space for creatives in the fashion, beauty and arts industry

Inspiration comes from: Travel, nature and the fabulous people that we meet who are killing it in all different walks of life

Our design philosophy is: Let the original designs come from an organic and natural place of inspiration. Let the refining of each detail of each piece be meticulous, persistent, diligent and perfectionist.

Favourite piece: Brenda – 3D floral maxi dress, Resort ’18 + Cathy – Estelle set, Resort ’18

We’ve always looked up to: Christian Dior Fashion House

Together, we are: Hard working and persistent.

But: We both have very different strengths and attributes, both in fashion and business. Brenda has a more girly style, wears more dresses and floral prints and has a very keen eye for detail when it comes to business. Cathy’s style can be described as edgy or quirky, and brings a creativity and literature aspect to each task

On the other hand though we both have so much in common such as hard work and perseverance and always seem be on the same page when it comes to Alpha-Be.

Our customer is: A style icon in her own right and is not afraid to take risks with her fashion sense while maintaining elegance

She demands: Originality, confidence in her fashion and accessibility to fabulous pieces

Next project: Creative50 Hub to support the Adelaide fashion, beauty and arts industry. Myer x Vogue showcase and a few upcoming opportunities to be released in the near future

AFF17 is all about: Supporting South Australian artists and showcasing what our state has to offer

We cannot wait for: Seeing what the other designers have to showcase this season.

Program tip: Make sure you get a ticket to as many shows and events as you can this year. The team at AFF17 keep making the event better and better every year and if last year is anything to go by the festival will be one you won’t want to miss this year! It’s a great opportunity to get to know our local designers better.

Post-AFF is all about: Maintaining the relationships which formed and creating a close knit community in Adelaide’s fashion industry.

Between now and then: We are flat out preparing our Resort collection to make sure they are available for purchase as soon as we showcase them!

We are looking forward to: Seeing the new amazing venue for AFF17 and listening to industry professionals who have a load of wisdom to share.

Life motto: The harder you work the more luck you find.


Photography by Jack Fenby.