When it comes to fashion, a few cities are always in the spotlight. We love New York for its gritty urban streetwear, London for its stately English tailoring, and Milan for its carefree sprezzatura. What we don’t hear nearly enough about are the Australian brands making it big here and abroad. The world may not yet speak of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Sydney with the same reverence it does Paris, but we can dream. In the meantime, let’s celebrate the cool Aussie labels helping to make that dream become a reality.
Vanishing Elephant got its start in Sydney in 2008. Some brands enter the game to disrupt the entire fashion industry. Others, like Vanishing Elephant, aren’t looking to reinvent the business, but rather to do it better than anyone else. VE presents its thoughtfully designed classics with a modern twist. Launching four men’s collections each year, VE is available throughout major men’s stores and select boutiques in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, North America and Japan.
Local label Kloke is the brainchild of married couple Amy and Adam Coombes. Together they launched the Melbourne-based brand in 2011, to serve their progressive designs to the style-loving masses. Their garments are technical yet tailored, easy to wear but conceptually rich, classic but kooky. The Kloke goal is to create clothing that will become their wearers’ favourite pieces, and if their success so far is anything to go by, they seem to be doing exactly that.
Sydney-based menswear designer Kiaya Daniels is a female creator who knows exactly what style-savvy men want. Before they ask for it, even. Not a youth street wear brand or corporate gig, Daniels manages to craft simple men’s staples – cropped casual jackets and tailored cotton pants and crisp collared shirts – in wearable neutrals and in vintage look shapes. But there’s an art-inspired slant to her collections – an embellished jacket or graphic print t-shirt – that gives men the chance mix in statement pieces with must-have classics.
Song For The Mute
One of Australia’s biggest men’s fashion exports is cult label Song For The Mute. Helmed by friends Melvin Tanaya and Lyna Ty, the brand touted by Nick Wooster as “unique, not only to anything I’ve seen in Australia, but quite frankly, anything I’ve seen in the world”, proudly represents Australia on the runway and in major retailers around.
The young label’s uncompromising approach to design – a huge focus on finding just the right fabric and showcasing its texture – in dark, and moody colour palette – is why SFTM is a must-have in your wardrobe. Especially, the outerwear.
Strateas Carlucci – a creative collaboration between Australian designers Peter Strateas and Mario-Luca Carlucci – debuted in the A/W 2013 season to a select group of buyers in Paris. The hand-crafted clothing (shaped through a process the designers call “Metron-morphosis”) is focused on construction and tailoring, with a strong bent towards utilitarian elements. The structured, minimal styles have a timelessness to them despite their edginess, which makes them all the more intriguing. And they’re award winning, taking out the International Woolmark Prize Australia Regional Finals in 2015, for their expertise in merino wool.
Sustainable and luxurious, Bassike is a casual but smart menswear label that was founded in 2006. Launched by Deborah Sams and Mary-Lou Ryan, Bassike’s philosophy is about all structure with style. Their collections are known for an effortless approach to basics, offering plain tees, shirts, trousers and shorts in organic, soft cotton. A more tailored look has crept in of late, with a selection of blazers and cuffed low-crutch trousers. The label’s sunglasses range is worth a look-in, while their denim is Japanese sourced, light and washed – riding well for summer.
Weathered is the brainchild of Australian retailer Incu. Boasting an easy going, classic aesthetic for off-duty moments, the first ever piece made by Weather was a modern day take on the standard woven shirt. From here, Weathered evolved into producing traditional tailoring. In relaxed fits and a rustic, worn-in looks, jersey tees, cotton drill shorts and lightweight knitwear also make up the brand’s ready-to-wear allotment.
Jac + Jack
Originally established in 2004 as a cashmere knitwear label, Jac + Jack offers simple menswear for the contemporary wardrobe. The ethos of Jac + Jack is ‘slow-fashion’, meaning the decade-old apparel house prioritises authenticity: paying attention to detail, manufacturing and design. Its founders, Jacqueline ‘Jac’ Hunt and Lisa ‘Jack’ Dempsey, work with actual textile mills and spinners to source their cashmere, merino wool, fine cotton, linen and silks too. The defining style of their clothing is modern and basic, perfect for adding some classic essentials back into your daily routine. Come here for all your cashmere and knitwear needs, as well as their modern sweats collection.
The People Vs.
The People Vs. is a Sydney outfit born from a desire to make high quality, vintaged-inspired, fashion fundamentals for the people. With a collective passion for art, music, surf and the streets, there’s a certain I-don’t-give-a-damn sense of New York-cum-Aussie cool about the label, which doesn’t hinder their search for quality. But quirky they are. With terms like ‘moth-eaten’, The People Vs. embodies boutique laundering to create rips, holes & abrasions, in places you don’t mind having a gaping hole. Check out their solo store on the sunny shores of Bondi Beach or online.
Sydney’s Barney Cools is an offshoot of streetwear brand Zanerobe. The fellas are a surfy, sun-loving collective who make “rugged street-wear inspired by international street-style”. Not ones to take themselves too seriously, Barney Cools offer skate-inspired cotton tees with tasteful prints and logos and floppy snapbacks, as well as comfy knits, vintage look shorts and easy-go outerwear, designed with a Nineties nostalgia and pursuit of an endless summer. The brand is available online and instore at Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, Culture Kings and Glue.