“People want to physically show what they support,” says the co-owner of the skateboarding/art clothing brand Stepmother, Matt Dwyer.
While the pandemic has put widespread pressure on retail, interesting local brands have seen the benefits.
Melbourne’s culture of supporting independence and creativity has been really helpful, Matt says.
The owner of female-focused skateboarding brand Pearls Clothing, Tobi Stanley, agrees that the pandemic has been helpful to her enterprise.
“I don’t think things would’ve moved as fast if the pandemic didn’t happen. Online shopping has increased sales,” she says.
Here are four Melbourne-based clothing labels to support.
Started in 2017 by Sam Chin as a platform to use her art and designs, Smile + Wave is a female-owned and operated, all-gender clothing label. It has “something everyone can wear”, Sam says.
The products feature designs inspired by Chinese culture and animals.
“I want things to be a bit more fun. I like colour and big sort of silly designs,” says Sam.
However, along with this, Sam says she incorporates important issues including climate change into designs in the hopes it’ll make people think about it or take action.
“Designs should have some sort of meaning and if it can have a positive meaning for the environment, then why not?” says Sam.
“My target audience is younger people, so, these issues are really important for us to acknowledge.”
Stepmother was started in 2019 by two friends, Steven Jeffress and Melbourne artist Matt Dwyer, as a creative outlet.
“Stepmother is a way to support the arts and artists, connecting the two worlds of skateboarding and art,” Matt says.
With design inspiration that is constantly evolving, the influences range from sci-fi to Australiana.
“The Australiana influence is not in a patriotic, true blue, southern cross wearing way … like animals and other things which are uniquely Australia”, says Matt.
Steven says they are now onto our fifth range. “We have found it harder for production through the pandemic due to lockdowns and we aren’t going to be able to leave our places to shoot or get our friends to model.”
“But we are excited with what we have coming soon and happy with how the brand is evolving.”
Started in 2019 by Tobi Stanley as a way for her to combine her two passions of skateboarding and fashion, Pearls Clothing is a female-owned and operated skateboarding clothing brand.
The emphasis is on giving her friends “who happen to be a lot of females, non-binary and queer people … an opportunity to shine,” Tobi says.
“I want Pearls to be a brand for everyone,” Tobi says.
I am trying to make something that looks a bit different from everything you’ll see, that is fun and exciting.
“Inspired by ’90s skateboarding, books, art … almost anything, sometimes it’s a child walking down the street with a cool shirt or toy.”
Tobi says she wants to create a space that can give other non-male skateboarders inspiration and something to look up to as there aren’t enough different people to look up to in the male-dominated industry.
While doing well locally, Pearls has found itself having caught global attention with people buying the clothing from the USA, Canada, Japan, England and Sweden.
Zac Farrugia started Remy Market in 2001 because it was something he’s always wanted to do. The brand features bold and colourful designs, influenced by skateboarding, basketball, tattoos, flowers, reworked denim and early 2000s colour palettes and fonts.
Remy Market is a product of the pandemic. After feeling bored during the lockdowns, Zac got an iPad and started making designs every day. The pandemic, however, has slowed down the production process as everything is being made locally, including the T-shirts that Zac says, “are all getting cut and sewed in Melbourne”.
“I am trying to keep it as Melbourne as possible, doing as much as I can locally,” Zac says.
“It’s important to me because you can do something half-assed and so easily overseas, but it isn’t really as special at the end of the day and if I’m not 100 per cent backing it, I would feel guilty to bring it out there.”