bnews, 20 April 2006, Pg. 6 & 7
Leaders of the pack
In the increasingly fickle business of men’s fashion, four local designers are feeding the hungry label-conscious buyer and building an avant guard reputation.
by CATHY ANDERSON
It’s undeniable: Melbourne a men have an eye for fashion. They routinely show up their interstate brothers with their sense of adventure, creativity and daring.
This, of course, means gay Melbourne men are at the top of the trend-set-ting list. Helping our boys are four Melbourne-based fashion designers producing everything from dirty denim and bold t-shirts to luxurious knits and classic cut pants.
Partners Boyd Parry and Shandor Gancs began Leopold only 12 months after getting together, Parry says they develop their ideas independently, then get together and ”argue a lot.”
It’s a process that seems to work, Their ‘easy elegance’ range of Euro-inspired luxe hand finished cashmere knits, mohair jumpers, ribboned shirts, coats and classic trousers with silk finishes have caused a wave of interest through Fashion Week and attracted attention from retailers in London, Tokyo and Stockholm.
This winter, the pair have chosen a black and white theme, ”It’s a distinct Eastern European aristocratic inspired range with a military influenced says Parry. The pair have use Shandor’s Hungarian background to create a range that is both wearable stylish but definitely a step away from ‘streetwear’.
Brothers Louis and Mozez Cotsoglou went into the denim business hot on the heels of their parents, who produced jeans for Saba, Lee, Bettina Liano, Scanlan Theodore and Mossimo but retired a few years ago.
Assisted by another brother, Jonathon, the pair concentrate on producing ‘funky’ denim wear with unusual stitching, pockets, and fat zips. This season’s flair is all about getting down and dirty, with a swarm of earth smeared models bitching it up on the catwalk at 2006 Fashion Week.
“It had a bit of a western theme, so we used ring-spun and broken twill denims, which are a bit toughening says Louis. “This year I decided I didn’t want holes in the jeans but we did a lot of abrasions. We use a laser gun to abrade the top of the denim which tears the top layer. We then stone wash it to give it that worn look. Then we spray it with a dirty ink spray.”
For winter, Louis sees the low-waist slim-leg design cutting a swathe down Chapel St, as well as their cowboy cut jeans with yellow stitching.
“Boys want to wear jeans today that shows off a good behind. Our jeans are just flattering, and boys love them.”
Oscar Calvo’s business profile reads: “He has succeeded at looking cool in his attire since the age of 12,” Now, he makes it his job to ensure others do the same.
Calvo, a Victorian finalist at the, Mercedes-Benz Start Up Program 2005, is a designer of high-end sportswear, bold suits and shirts, retro cotton polo shirts with stripes and trousers made using classic soft Italian wool. Calvo prefers to use exclusive European fabrics.
The range is manufactured in both Melbourne and Hong Kong, and has been picked up by several retailers since he launched in 2004. His first winter collection (released March 2005) was small, but included high-end tailored streetwear.
His winter 2006 collection includes bold coloured suits, high-quality shirts and more boutique streetwear.
Paul Cooper is the newest kid on the block, setting up his (part-time) t-shirt design business 18 months ago. He started because he was “fed up” with the clothes from mainstream designers.
His designs include bold colours (try purple and green), unusual, un-centred prints and comfortable grandpa shirts. Paul prefers to use comb jersey for his t-shirts, which he says is very comfortable, and Lyocell, a stretchy poly cotton for his grandpa-sty|e shirts. His shirts are made in Footscray.
“I could probably get them made cheaper overseas but l like to keep an eye on production, so it’s better to be based in Melbourne.”
Unsurprisingly, Paul predicts big, bold colours will be walking Melbourne’s streets this winter. “Lots of colour will be popular,” he says.