The British Fashion Council yesterday announced the seven recipients of its NewGen Men sponsorship initiative for 2013, which supports emerging menswear designers in presenting their work as part of London Collections: Men, which begins in mid-June. Agi & Sam, Astrid Andersen, Lee Roach, Matthew Miller, Nasir Mazhar and Shaun Samson will receive catwalk sponsorship, while Martine Rose will receive presentation sponsorship. Supported by Topman, the initiative grew out of Fashion East's successful MAN project, and in the past has helped to grow the profiles of Christopher Shannon, James Long and J.W. Anderson. Manuscript will be on the ground in London during fashion week next month and will report on the presentations.
May 23, 2013
May 20, 2013
A small Swiss subculture continues to influence contemporary fashion. But for the first time, writes Mitchell Oakley Smith, its context makes the re-appropriation successful.
Weinberger’s photographs of the self-styled Swiss, ostracised in the press, offer a porthole to a time when defying convention was to do so without a return ticket. There’s nothing especially significant or unique in the way this small group formed their style – variations of American bikers and rockers of the late 1950s and 1960s – and Weinberger, though sharing many commonalities with the likes of Diane Arbus and Larry Clark in the discovery of something outside the norm, is by no means the most prolific photographer to have mined outsider subcultures. But unlike Ms Arbus and Mr Clark, Mr Weinberger finds his work rooted in fashion, if not in the documentation of it through his subjects then in the effect his photographs later had on the fashion world.
Like the astonishingly ostentatious belts of Weinberger’s Teddy Boys that were later copied
by Italian and French fashion houses Versace and Maison Martin Margiela for the runway, it highlights the cyclical nature of fashion. Neither Versace nor Margiela boasted any existing connection to the subculture Weinberger captured, and recreated the now-iconic style in the same way they previously had mined others. 1851-established Swiss leathergoods brand Bally, on the other hand, boasts a history far greater than the majority of contemporary fashion brands, and its co-creative directors Graeme Fidler and Michael Herz have, since taking its reins in March 2010, made a significant step towards embracing its heritage, including, most recently, a capsule collection to mark 60 years since the first ascent of Mount Everest, for which Sherpa Tenzing Norgay took his final steps to the top of the world in a pair of the brand’s Reindeer-Himalaya boots.
Ready-to-wear was only introduced by the company in 1979, thus missing the era of Weinberger’s Teddy Boys by close to two decades, but of the design houses that have looked to the subculture, Bally’s Swiss heritage makes it uniquely placed to capitalise on the style, which it did in its spring/summer 2013 menswear collection, unveiled at Milan Fashion Week last year. As its press notes state: “[the collection] is imbued with a nostalgic spirit that speaks of luxurious outdoor adventures aligning perfectly with the Swiss leathergoods house’s pioneer heritage.”
To the credit of Mr Fidler – the menswear half of the creative duo – his sartorial take on Weinberger’s documentation isn’t entirely referential. Indeed, if you weren’t told of the photographer serving as inspiration – and, in fact, the press release mentions nothing of the designers’ influences – the thread isn’t an obvious one. But unlike the houses of Versace and Margiela, Bally isn’t a brand that makes loud statements. Its customer is one that invests in classics, and the brand’s seasonal offerings are in their own right timeless investments. It makes products to be worn for a lifetime, and while a suede leather roundneck t-shirt or cable knit sweater can be seen in a Weinberger context, as they are on the following pages, they’re nonetheless pieces that would easily slip into the existing wardrobe of a Bally customer.
Above: Mr Vanderhart wears customised Levis denim vest & jeans.
Top: Mr Armstrong wears James Perse shirt, Minty Meets Munt faux fur cardigan, Bally leather jacket, Levis jeans, vintage scarf.
The Costume Shop studded belt.
Above & below: Mr Keenan wears Bally leather t-shirt & suede leather jacket, James Perse shirt, Levis jeans, Loop Leather Co belt, vintage bandana, The Costume Shop belt buckle, Bally boots.
Mr Armstrong wears Bally sweater, Scanlan & Theodore fur peplum belt, Levis jeans, The Costume Shop multi-pocket belt, Bally suede gloves, Henson bore tooth earring.
Mr Vanderhart wears Zambesi sweater, customised Levis denim vest, Bally pants, Henson necklace, Loop Leather Co belt, The Costume Shop buckle.
Sam Armstrong & Jack Vanderhart/EMG Models | Sean Keenan/Shanahan Management
Photographic Assistance Rudolf Zverina | Styling Assistance Sarah Ibrahim
Shot on location at Carriageworks, Eveleigh
May 19, 2013
As we wrote earlier this morning, capsule collections are the new collaborations of the fashion world, and launching this Wednesday on the site of UK retailer Matches is a collection by Australian designer Richard Nicoll. Totalling 13 pieces, Mr Nicoll created six pieces for men, including a leather bomber jacket and two-tone t-shirt, that extend on the few collections he has designed since branching into menswear last year. "I wanted to place a real emphasis on making something timeless," explained the designer of the capsule. "The collection wasn't rooted heavily in historical references. I find myself thinking more as a product designer than a fashion designer in a sense, and I try to work simply, with a straight-forward point of view and without ego." That streamlined design process is evident in the sharp cleanliness of the men's pieces, which will slip effortlessly into a man's wardrobe.
Capsule collections are the new collaborations of the fashion industry. Where recently designers regularly teamed with contemporary artists to refresh their image, it's now common practice for them to create a set of exclusive pieces for one retailer - as evidenced by the month-long capsule series by online luxury men's department store Mr Porter - so as to provide their customer with a new take on their seasonal collection. Following its initial release by Beams Plus, Mr Porter presents a 13-piece collection by French fashion designer Alexandre Mattiussi of Ami. Casual, and ranging in price from $70 to $405, the Ami capsule collection is based on "les bords du Canal Saint Martin", where the cool crowd hangs out on summer nights in Paris. The collection, comprising tailored separates, including a standout double-brested blazer, is available on the site from Tuesday.
May 15, 2013
It seems appropriate to post about online designer retailer Mr Porter today given that, as I write this, its editor Jeremy Langmead prepares to take the stage of the Sydney Opera House for the Bespoke Luxury Conference, which kicks off this morning. Mr Langmead has made the most of his visit Down Under - the site's third biggest market after the UK and USA - by offering free express shipping to Australia (ends May 22) and having a team of well-dressed young men hand out copies of the Mr Porter Post in Martin Place, Sydney. Each week for the next month, Mr Porter is releasing a series of capsule collections created exclusively for the retailer by a host of renowned menswear designers, beginning with surfwear brand Beams Plus. The six-piece capsule, comprising polos, t-shirts and shorts adorned with palm surfer prints, boasts a collegiate-meets-coast aesthetic in keeping with label's style. "I got inspired when I first saw The Surf Ivy artworks by Koji Toyodo, a Japanese surf art pioneer, and came up with the concept of this collections," explains the Beams Plus designer. "His designs have a very special taste as surf designs, and I thought his way of life has something to do with American traditional styles. Ivy styles with the 'sloppy' essence of surfers - I got very excited when I came up with this concept.
May 14, 2013
Tomorrow evening, acclaimed Australian portrait photographer Hugh Stewart unveils a new exhibition, North South, as part of the Head On Photo Festival. Mr Stewart is most known for his striking, raw photographs of celebrities, and most recently photographed the cast of Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby. In this new body of work, Mr Stewart's still life imagery - many of them simple flowers in vases creates gestural relationships between everyday objects, nature, iconography and the viewer, demonstrating another quality of his broader oeuvre.
May 13, 2013
May 9, 2013
In a few years, the talks and events of Semi-Permanent have spread to five countries, attracting some of the world's leading creative including Roman Coppola, and a collective audience in excess of 250,000. Later this month, Semi-Permanent kicks off in Sydney with a panel including photojournalist Francesco Zizola, artists Paul White and Brian Roettinger, directors Aaron Rose and Steve Ayson, and the directors of US brand Saturdays NYC. Its co-founders Murray Bell and Andrew Johnstone speak to us about the evolution of what began as a humble project to connect the creative community.
How did Semi-Permanent come about after meeting one another? Did you think there was a gap for something like this?
We had known each other for a couple of years and worked together on Design is Kinky before getting the opportunity to create Semi-Permanent. It was an event that we felt was needed in Sydney and Australia at the time. There was other events but not with the same outlook that we had in mind.
You have noted that the concept is to unite the creative world. Who is your audience?
Semi-Permanent is about inspiring and enabling creative minds, so our audience is really anyone who has an interest in creativity, of any variety.
What do audiences typically respond well to?
Like most audiences they like a laugh so love to see some quirky and fun work alongside the more commercial or 'serious' artwork. We find that motion and film work always goes down really well as it can engage the audience a little more than flat images.
How do you curate the roster of speakers? Is there a thread that ties each panel together?
We generally just choose people whose work we admire and keep in mind that we want a variety of speakers from different areas of art and design. There is no real theme, just people we feel will be inspiring.
You have had over 250,000 attendees - have the events been growing in size since its inception?
Yes the event have grown, mainly into new events in different cities. We are always very aware of keeping the casual fun nature of the events though no matter how big they get or where we do them.
What do you hope people can take away from the events?
We just hope they leave inspired to create some new work. To push the work they may already be doing to a higher level or into a different direction.
Lastly, there are so many talks/cultural events in Sydney, particularly at the moment (Vivid, AFR Luxury Conference, etc) - what makes Semi-Permanent different?
I think we are one of the only events that directs it's energy at creativity simply for the sake of being creative. A lot of events have a very corporate or business angle that we don't have. We acknowledge those aspects of the industry but focus more on the passion people have for just creating amazing things.
May 8, 2013
The greatest sign of a brand’s worth is that without any marketing, seasonal sales or special promotions it can develop and maintain a database of recurring clients. In today’s over-saturated market that has seen numerous fashion-based labels shutter their operations, Feit has, since 2005, continued to grow from a modest store in Sydney’s Darlinghurst. So small, in fact, that modest is a modest way of putting it. The leather footwear label, founded by brothers Josh and Tull Price, now reaches a global audience via online sales and, more recently, a partnership with Dover Street Market’s London and Tokyo outposts.
Feit’s difference? “The aim has always been to create high quality leather-based products,” explains Tull Price, the label’s co-founder. “Throughout the process we have learnt more and more about the materials we are using and really understand what a difference it can make for the wearer and, ultimately, the planet, too.” As is now reasonably known within the fashion industry, many leathers used by designers, particularly high street label and mass retailers, contain high levels of chrome as a result of the leather being treated and dyed, which is not only toxic for those crafting the shoes, but don’t wear as well for the customer, either. Additionally, they take longer to break down, making them bad for the environment.
In contrast, Feit predominantly uses cow and kudu leather – the latter a South African deer – sourced and produced in Florence, Italy, and employ vegetable dyes (colour obtained from mimosa and grapes, for example) rather than synthetic forms that prevent the shoe from breathing naturally. “Shoes [created from that process] can look OK to begin with, but they have all of these other negative traits that present themselves later,” says Tull. Feit shoes, on the other hand, are designed to be worn barefoot, despite a large portion of the brand’s customer base being based in warm climates, such as Australia. Unlike a synethically-treated leather shoe, Feit’s use of a vegetable-based treatment ensures the leather’s pores – it is, after all, the skin of an animal – remain open, allowing the shoes to breathe naturally. “They don’t end up smelling like other leather shoes,” he says.
From where did the environmental stance evolve? Not from a marketing plan, unlike many other brands pushing their eco wares. Having established the casual footwear brand Royal Elastics – at age 20, no less – and fast witnessing the sheer output of a company that had, after six years in independent operation, been purchased by American public company K-Swiss, Tull felt a personal disconnection from the industry’s mass saturation. “There was and is so much trash being produced, and you can’t destroy these things. They end up in landfill sitting there. Overproduction is killing the planet, but also the industry.” In response, Tull co-founded Feit with three things in mind: “good construction, natural materials and time-honoured, handmade construction.”
While Josh is based in Sydney and runs the day-to-day operation of the retail outpost, Josh is based in New York, where he also serves as president and creative director of Rag & Bone Footwear, splitting his time between the two. With online retail the largest form of sales for the business – and a system of pre-ordering so that pieces are sent direct from the brand’s factory in Italy, reducing excess stock and the end-price for customers – the split-city approach works well for the brothers. And in expanding their reach, they’ve recently introduced leathergoods, such as wallets, iPad cases and belts, to the range, employing an ancient, Florentine method of construction that eschews sewing and uses heat and natural glues to create joins and folds. “The thing, as with the shoes, is that it’s of good construction, natural material and is handmade,” says Josh.
Mr Josh & Tull Price photographed by Sam Hendel on 20 December 2012
at the office of Golightly PR, Darlinghurst, Australia.
Story Mitchell Oakley Smith
May 7, 2013
At the opening of Sam Leach's exhibition Dymaxion exhibition this weekend at Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney, the artist will speak in conversation with writer and critic Andrew Frost about his work and this, his first presentation of new work in Australia in three years. Mr Leach is one of the country's most promising contemporary artists, having exhibited both locally and internationally at state and national institutions, and winning the 2010 Wynne and Archibald Prizes at the Art Gallery of New South. This exhibition, like others past, demonstrates the artist's interest in how science and technology shape our perception of environments, and comprises work large in scale and often bold in colour (as above).
Sam Leach in conversation with Andrew Frost, 3pm Saturday 07 May 2013, Sullivan + Strumpf.
May 6, 2013
The fashion world has gone truly punk this week in honour of the Metropolitan Museum's summer fashion exhibition Punk: Chaos to Couture, and its accompanying gala, which begins momentarily in New York City. Online retailer Moda Operandi, the exhibition's sponsor, has released a capsule collection of punk-inspired looks. Across the pond, British brand Burberry has drawn on its country's punk roots and recreated six looks from its spring/summer 2011 season, which employed a similar style as its thematic inspiration. The collection is available now and exclusive to the brand's SoHo and East 57th Street stores.
May 5, 2013
Raf Simons' name has shot to mainstream fame in the past year with his appointment as creative director of Christian Dior, and subsequent high praise for both his ready-to-wear and haute couture collections, and previous work under the banner of Jil Sander. But long before he came to be known for womenswear - an area of design he hadn't explored until arriving at Jil Sander in 2005 - Mr Simons was, and still is, known in fashion circles as the preeminent menswear designer of our time. Indeed, it is widely argued that it was Mr Simons, not Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme, that invented the skinny trouser.
Whatever the case, Mr Simons' collective creative output - as evidenced by over a decade of styles represented in the images below - wasn't defined by a singular silhouette, but rather the extremities of the shape and form of traditional men's garments, as inspired by youth subcultures. Interestingly, Simons is self-taught in his field, having studied industrial, rather than fashion, design at university, which goes some way in explaining the architectural properties of his garments.
In celebrating the return of his namesake line to the fashion portfolio of LN-CC, the online retail concept has curated a selection of rare pieces from its extensive archive of the designers' work, spanning a decade from 1998. The curated capsule will sit alongside Simons' A/W 13 collection, in which the designer has incorporated haute couture-quality fabrics from Christian Dior.
Autumn/Winter 2004/05 short-sleeved sweatshirt. Top: Autumn/Winter 2005/06 coat.
Autumn/Winter 2005/06 padded jacket.
Autumn/Winter 1998/99 shirt; Spring/Summer 2005 pants.
Spring/Summer 2004 patchwork sweater.
Spring/Summer 2005 pants.
Spring/Summer 2007 panelled shirt.
There is an awful lot of skincare products on the market, and yet despite marketeers' push into the male category, very few are formulated for the very different skin of men. Gentleman's Brand Co. is the brainchild of creative Matthew Woodward, his sister, alchemist Sally, and business entrepreneur Omar Varts, and is the result of a desire to create a simple, effective approach to men's skincare. Gentleman's Brand Co. is formulated and manufactured locally in Australia, with ingredients, such as bush botanicals and plant-based extracts, drawn from the Australian landscape. As a result, the range is free from harsh chemicals such as parabens, sulphates, artificial colours and synthetic fragrances that are not only bad for the environment, but can cause reactions in the skin, too. What really differentiates the brand though is its no-fuss philosophy: the products are simply packaged (in PET plastic bottles) and can be purchased in boxes of six per pack. There's also not a host of products that need to be used, with a simple face wash and daily moisturiser designed for the face, and a complementing body wash.
May 2, 2013
As we wrote in our print edition last year, Burberry Acoustic - a platform established by the British brand's chief creative officer Christopher Bailey - celebrates and promotes emerging British music talent via live performances, photographic campaigns and its highly-successful Youtube channel. Earlier this week, the brand launched a new initiative, Live at 121 Regent Street, a series of ticketed live music events at its part-event space, part-innovation hub, part-store in London, with British band Kaiser Chiefs. Attended by over 1000 guests - including British musicians and fellow Burberry Acoustic stablemates Roo Panes and Life in Film - the series of events will allow fans to apply for tickets on the brand's website later this year.
Italian menswear brand Ermenegildo Zegna has made quite some noise in Australia over the past month, celebrating 50 years of its partnership with the local wool industry with a series of special events, awards and a mammoth runway show, recreated from its presentation in Milan earlier this year. On Wednesday, the brand opened its store in Brisbane, located in the capital city's luxury precinct on Edward Street. Designed by Zegna's in-house architectural team based on the design blueprint established by Peter Marino, the 260-metre store is home to the brand's Su Misura (made-to-measure) service, as well as its various lines, such as Z Zegna and Zegna Sport. The store opening follows the brand's Sydney flagship, which opened in Westfield Sydney in 2011, signalling a commitment to the local industry.
May 1, 2013
They're sometimes the forgotten part of an outfit, but socks can dramatically change your style, a bold colour or pattern peaking out from between your trousers and shoes a sign of humour, taste and interest in the way you present yourself. Australian-born, London-based Nicholas Lew was well aware of this when he quite his day job as a banking lawyer to launch Nicholas Life, producing high quality socks with a focus on aesthetics. Before charging into the sales period, Mr Lew spent a year researching the market and testing designs for the best fit and feel, noticing that while fun, fashionable socks existed in the market, they tended to be lower in quality. Beginning with a classic red sock, the launch collection comprises a mostly muted palette, though at the luxurious end of the scale are cashmere and silk, Italian-made socks, one pair hand-sewn with black crystals. "I'm using my knowledge of working in the city and how men like to dress even in industries traditionally regarded as conservative, explains Mr Lew. "I have considered every aspect of the sock in detail to ensure an elegant and comfortable quality product."
April 30, 2013
We're big proponents of high quality printed matter at Manuscript, and despite a cultural shift towards digital media, Australia - and, in particular, Sydney - has been turning it out in force over the past two years with the launch of such titles as Das Superpaper, Broadsheet, and Blood & Thunder Anthology. Custom publishing usually falls into a different category, but we're happy to make an exception for the debut issue of Australian fashion label Vanishing Elephant's zine. Produced to coincide with the label's Australian Fashion Week show, the designers - Huw Bennett, Felix Chan and Arran Russell - decided "to craft something more tangible than a blog, Instagram or Facebook, something that engaged with the people who inspire our brand and something we could tell a story with." And they've done just that. Like Acne Paper, Vanishing Elephant's publication is less about the label than the the things that influence it, with travel, art and architectural stories. The zine can be picked up for free at the label's stockists and viewed online at its website.
From the artist that has painted blue and white patterns on just about everything comes two new exhibitions, both of them opening tomorrow. At his gallery in Adelaide, Hugo Mitchell Gallery, Lucas Grogan will present a solo exhibition titled Folklore, comprising two large crewel embroideries the artist made since joining the Victorian Embroiders Guild earlier this year. Meanwhile in Melbourne, The Wedding Quilt (190x190cm) is on display as part of Craft Victoria and attempts to update the traiditon of giving newly-wed couples quilts to celebrate their union as the definition of marriage evolves.
April 28, 2013
While the success of fashion designers ebbs and flows, a Melbourne-based denim label has maintained steady development by eschewing the popular concept of designer-as-hero, writes Mitchell Oakley Smith.
All too often, large fashion houses put their faith in a designer, a single creative entity, to fulfill their expectations. As has been well demonstrated by John Galliano at Christian Dior, amongst others, such expectations in the incredibly fast-paced fashion industry are somewhat unachievable season after season, and thus a designer has the capacity to make – and simultaneously break – the label by which they are employed. The PPR group’s appointment of Hedi Slimane as creative director of Saint Laurent, and the subsequent negative reactions to his rebranding exercise, further demonstrate the eclipsing of an established brand by its of-the-moment designer, and the ramifications this can have on both the designer and the business. Fashion’s fortunes fluctuate, with a brand’s creative head steering the wind.
Melbourne-based denim label Nobody has, from its earliest incarnation as a producer of jeans for other brands, eschewed this notion, its namesake a reflection of the creative individual at its head: nobody. Created without a singular design hero, Nobody’s wares are free of a fixed message, the brand’s focus on ensuring the integrity and wearability of its products – largely denim jeans – rather than providing a platform to express the whims of a creative director. In the case of Nobody, its creative division is made up of a team of denim design specialists in addition to a team with over thirty years experience in producing unique denim washes.
The brand’s studio-cum-laundry in Melbourne’s Fitzroy, credited by Ethical Clothing Australia and home to 100% of its production, is akin to Willy Wonka’s plant. There’s vivid blue water underfoot, stained blue pipes tangling overhead and odd-looking contraptions parked around the warehouse. Walking through puffs of steam coming from industrial-sized tumble dryers I half expect to see Augustus Gloop scooping blue water into his mouth before being sucked up a pipe to emerge as a large pair of dungarees. My vision doesn’t eventuate, but there are dungarees, and countless other styles of denim jeans, piled high all around.
Nobody was established in 1999 by two brothers at a time when Australian fashion was distancing itself from the corporate companies that held it captive and limited creativity for many years before. The family had been manufacturing denim for 20 years, having built a reputation for their innovative methods. A basic pair of Nobody jeans, for example, goes through 14 steps, including washing, sanding, spraying, detailing, piercing, fraying and stone washing. Beyond the machine washes, all processes are by hand, lending each pair of jeans an artisan feel of individuality.
Despite the brand’s eschewing of a single design hero, Nobody honours the relationship its customers have forged with its jeans by maintaining popular fits, cuts and styles, evolving them seasonally with the addition of new pieces. For autumn/winter 2013, the creative team was keen to explore the different men that make up the brand’s clientele. As such, three distinct styles emerged in the collection: the first, Gentleman, a range inspired by the Prohibition Era of the 1920s, offers seasonally-relevant colours and fabrics. Sportsman, another range, offers easy-wearing, contemporary pieces that fit seamlessly into a man’s existing wardrobe. While Workman, a homage to the workers that use denim as a daily tool for protection, is made distinct by the unique washes applied to the jeans.
Additionally, a limited edition four-piece capsule collection in partnership with Nobody’s wash designer Troy Strebe and Jim Thompson of Australian menswear label Three Over One is to be released this winter, with all pieces made in the company’s Melbourne factory using high quality Japanese selvage. But of course, Mr Thompson’s involvement is merely one-off, for while Nobody aims to offer its customers what they desire within the fast-moving fashion world, it is keenly aware that its core product – denim – is something of a timeless product. As such, and in line with its creative ethos, it cares more for maintaining long-held relationships than reinventing the wheel, a notion most pleasing for its customers.
Zach McPherson/Chadwick Models | Photographic Assistance Matteo Macri