Text: Adriana Giuffrida Images: Suleyman
Men everywhere, rejoice. Pageant – the brainchild of Amanda Cumming and Kate Reynolds – hits stores in September.
Cumming and Reynolds met at art school in 2000, and their journey has taken them from Melbourne to London and back again. During this time, they have worked with incredible contemporaries who, as well as shaping their knowledge of the industry, inspired them to launch their first collection at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week in Sydney earlier this year.
What Pageant have produced is like a breath of fresh air – from its colour palette to its fabrication choices to the style of its design. Adriana Giuffrida chats to the pair about the path of their creation, their future endeavours and how they manage to find the time.
Adriana Giuffrida: Hi Kate & Amanda, how are you?
AG: What are you guys working on at the moment?
P: We’re currently submerged in sampling our AW 2012 collection, as well as coordinating production for SS 2011/12, which will arrive in store in October.
AG: You have both had such an interesting journey to this point. Kate, you were working at Christopher Shannon in the UK, and Amanda, you were at Christopher Kane. Tell us about your journey back to Australia, and how Pageant began?
P: Doing a label together was an idea we had been toying with for a number of years, but the timing had never been right. Coming back home to Melbourne from London was a great opportunity for the two of us to finally start our label, as we were forced to reevaluate our creative paths. We really loved living and working in London, so when we had to leave we were incredibly sad but it was a blessing in disguise and a sign to do our own thing. We both got to work quite closely with these designers and collectively learnt a range of skills, from putting together a collection to production and sales, to the general ins and outs of running a fashion business. We guess it also proved that if these designers can do it, why can’t we?
AG: Why do you think there is such a niche for menswear in the Australian market?
P: As there are fewer menswear labels based here, we feel there is a unique opportunity for us to really create something that is inherently Australian but with an international feel. Our male friends are often frustrated with the lack of interesting and quality menswear available on a local scale and will buy online or when travelling abroad.
AG: Tell me about the theme for your debut collection.
P: ‘Outbound’ came about after looking at old camping and backpacking books and the idea of carrying around just the things you need to survive. Both of our fathers work with their hands so we were inspired to repurpose outdoor wear for the self-reliant man, adding tongue-in-cheek technical references in the detailing. It references our obsession with casual sportswear and the everyday man.
AG: The fabrics used in your debut collection for Pageant are so different to other labels out there. Do you find the fabric inspires the collection?
P: Most definitely, the neoprene was a starting point for SS 11/12 as we felt it complemented the rounded/boxy silhouette we wanted to achieve. We’re naturally drawn to unconventional fabrications and combining various textures is very important to us when putting together a collection. We like to use fabrics that encompass a modern and futuristic feel yet still have that familiarity of a favorite sweater you’ve worn for years. Our fabric choices act as the foundations to the overall feel of the collection and although sometimes unusual, they are always wearable.
AG: In the past both of you have also worked as stylists, and have recently had an exhibition at Craft Victoria. Do you find this inspires your creativity to create clothing, by having the ability to be involved in other creative processes?
P: When we started the label we had this idea that we wanted to work under the umbrella of a multidisciplinary practice. It keeps things fresh and helps keep us motivated with the day-to-day tasks of running a label. A lot of the energy that happens on shoots or projects often feeds through into the work we do for the label. It’s exciting to see our ideas take different forms rather than just a fashion outcome.
Our friend Antuong Nguyen approached us to be involved in this collaboration. We were really intrigued by the concept surrounding ‘Solidarity Thing’ and the work reflected a combined aesthetic between our debut collection and Antuong’s previous artwork. We made a series of 7 ‘flags’ that were installed into the space then reinstalled by Masato Takasaka and SIBLING. It was a really exciting opportunity for our work to be exhibited at Craft Victoria and sit alongside the BLESS No 38 Windowgarden.
AG: Do you have any exciting art or styling projects coming up?
P: We are working on a short film for SS 2011/12 with friends KROZM. It will be released online when the collection goes in store later this year and features a great soundtrack by Fiorucci Youth + Eurothug.
AG: What can we expect from Pageant in 2012?
P: More cute boys wearing our clothes and a Wet Dream!
Pageant is stocked exclusively at FAT.
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Text: Adriana Giuffrida Images: Suleyman