The Fifth Label: Behind the Design

It takes a team of people to drive fashion labels to success. This month, we feature one of the creatives behind The Fifth Label.

As the graphic designer with The Fifth Label, Jerome Williams takes a holistic approach to his role at Australian Fashion Labels (AFL). Stepping outside of the regular daily grind, he enjoys exploring different mediums in his work. “The official title is graphic designer, however I tend to go outside those boundaries, whether it be video, textile design, or digital production,” Williams says. “I guess the company started small and gained popularity in a huge way, so areas opened up that needed filling and I was there to add them to my existing role within The Fifth.” Originally engaged to establish the label’s brand identity and ethos, Williams moved from a freelance role to working full time at AFL headquarters. “I came across the job from a friend back home while taking some time working at a bar in a town called San Pedro La Laguna in Guatemala. I sent through a body of personal work I had been honing over my time overseas, had a pleasant Skype conversation with my now managers, and a day later I got to work in my dingy hostel room establishing what is known as The Fifth. “Fashion was something I subconsciously enjoyed, but wasn’t savvy to until I had to be. I had little to no experience in the field, but a few ideas as to what I thought it was, and the risk both sides of the deal made paid off. It was a pleasant gamble and one I appreciate, because this is the field I want to work in for the rest of my life now.” Led by head designer Amy Hicks, Williams describes the creative and collaborative nature of their working relationship. “Amy is a workhorse and she tirelessly fine tunes, tweaks and refines everything in every aspect of her role. Usually it starts with Amy coming to me with a verbal brief of some sort, whether it be for a campaign, print, or video, and then she just lets me conjure up whatever it is I’m feeling as a response. There’s a nice level of trust, and we work well together because I tend to go a bit outlandish and she lassos me back in a little. We round it all off with a bit of constructive criticism from all members of the team, and the final result synthesises into something we’re all proud to call our own.” The Fifth stands on its own in the AFL family – with a unique tone of voice and identity. This was a conscious move for Williams as he describes how he approaches social media. “A lot of what the public sees of the brand is done purely out of passion, and is a culmination of all that inspires me. A male presence in a female fashion label is a bit obscure in its own right, so a mixture of taste and disassociation from the final product, of course with it still in mind, helps me in my approach. The social media has always been directed by me, so its presence is kind of a weird question mark extension of myself where I can voice anything that I vibe off of, or want to say to our customer base. I like to talk through it on a personal level, and disconnect from the idea of always selling something to someone, but more so just having a nice rapport, educating and building a sense of lifestyle and belonging.” Jerome Williams is part of group exhibition Single Use Showing at Light Square Gallery until Friday, March 4 thefifthlabel.com   Image: Jerome Williams, Proper (detail)