Australian menswear has come a long way since King Gee shorts and VB singlets reigned supreme at the local pub. And while rugged and relaxed will always have a seat at the bar when it comes to our daily wardrobe, there are brands that are lifting the bar in men's fashion while retaining a semblance of Aussie heritage.
I have resolved to 'buy more local', a task that has seen me getting up before the sun on weekends to get the best of the bunch at various farmers markets. I've even had a discussion about how to procure one's own cow for future BBQs.
I've also hunted down what I feel are some of the best Australian clothing brands for men. The criteria were simple – be Australian owned and designed, with a focus on quality without costing half my wages.
Aside from a good suit, the staple of any man's wardrobe should be a pair of well fitting jeans. Several even, if you don't like keeping your, ahem, eggs all in one basket. Par Lundqvist, creative director of Australian denim label Neuw, owns upwards of 3000 pairs of original vintage jeans, some dating back to the very earliest days of denim and complete with oil and rust stains. This rich resource provides Par with the blueprints to create one of the best selections of shape and styles in men's denim available in Australia today. Other great options for denim include the Melbourne-based Nobody or the luxe-casual Bassike.
The family behind Whillas and Gunn have a long history of providing the Australian explorer with hard-wearing clothing designed to outlast conditions in the outback. Now they have released a collection of clothing for men that, while maintaining its hardwearing nature, is more suited to urban adventures. The beauty of this brand is that it keeps the design details at a minimum, giving you a great no-fuss label for guys who don't need the trims of excessive fashion. Another great option for well-made basics is the aptly named Bassike which has a great selection of cotton tees and shorts.
I've mentioned previously my inherent mistrust of the 'smart casual' dress code (seriously - is it business or is it leisure?) but the effortless threads at Jac+Jack makes the situation so much easier. The collection of simple, clean and incredibly comfortable-yet-casual clothing is a great choice for Friday drinks or even that beach wedding. Product of choice is Jac+Jack's cashmere jumper, ideal for Australian winters. Other options to consider are Brent Wilson and the svelte Jack London.
Out of the ordinary
Claude Maus from Melbourne is Australia's answer to Rick Owens. Offering a range of draping t-shirts and drop-crotched pants, the range comes in a thousand shades of black and grey and is the perfect choice when you're looking for something outside your comfort zone (the irony being these are some of the most comfortable clothes you will ever wear). Expect to find tailored tracksuits, oversized or layered t-shirts, mesh shorts and raw denim shirts. Not your standard fare for a day in the office maybe, but definitely something to get you noticed on a night out.
Former Herringbone founder Matt Jensen launched M.J. Bale back in 2009 and the brand has since made a name as one of the premier suits for men in Australia. Using only the best local merino wool, M.J. Bale's strength lies in the ability to combine quality craftsmanship and extraordinarily good value for money. Brand and marketing manager Drew Hoare describes the product as a “relaxed, deconstructed take on tailoring [with] Italian and Prep-American influences, but deliberately dressed down with an Australian ruggedness”. Another option would be the colourful P. Johnson Tailors in both Melbourne and Sydney, and online tailoring service Institchu, which lets you do it all from the comfort of your desk or sofa.
While this list clearly doesn't cover all the amazing designers and options for men, it should carry you through any number of clothing scenarios from office to weekend, a BBQ on the balcony, or even a 6am meeting with a wagyu farmer in Orange regarding an investment calf.
What other Australian designers do you recommend?