When Roberto Malizia left Rome for Melbourne four years ago, he didn't think he was waving goodbye to Italian cool. Instead, the 25-year-old launched a career as a fashion influencer, spreading the word about European style via images of his own rebel style.
Malizia is part of a new wave of 'menswear influencers' who are calling Australia home and planting a fashion seed in our market. Some are launching fashion brands, others are intent on making careers out of styling and many like Malizia are busy working on relationships with brands that are in sync with his own fashion message.
Malice lives here
His site, This Is Malice began in the name of fun and has picked up over 15,000 followers. The heavily tattooed influencer is in his element here – he's an old school fashion warrior with his heart pegged on all that is modern sartorial cool.
He chooses Vans over loafers or double monk shoes and teams this with vests and distressed denim jackets. It's this DIY approach to menswear that makes him instantly noticeable - he can don a suit, downplay a parker and wear leather jacket like a Roman rock star.
"A friend of mine suggested I start an Instagram page to display our photographic work," says Roberto Malizia.
"Within a few months my followers grew at a fast rate and before I knew it I had reputable brands approaching me to showcase products and to collaborate," he says.
While the lure to promote fashion brands appealed, Malizia says the key is to align with those who understand where you're coming from. He wasn't about to sell his soul to the devil.
In Rome he worked for Armani Jeans, in Melbourne he found a sales assistant job in the menswear department of Myer. He admits he could have started his blog in Rome, but it felt perfect to do so in Melbourne. He says Australian men look to European blokes for inspiration, so why not be the European in Melbourne as the go-to guy?
"Melbourne is very much about who you know rather than what you know," says Malizia.
"When I am not working on my fashion site I am out meeting new people and establishing relationships for future contact. Good knowledge of the fashion industry is just a bonus when it comes to being a successful fashion figure in Australia."
Miles Wharton moved to Australia six years ago from the UK after travelling to Sydney for his gap year and fell in love with the continent.
Three years ago he launched a menswear and lifestyle site – Men's Fashion Blogger – with the intention of educating blokes about fashion, tailoring and grooming. With more than 73,000 followers later, his business idea has steamrolled into a viable business.
Wharton couldn't imagine not starting his business in Australia and never thought it could only work in Europe. The 26-year-old wanted to start a made to measure suiting business but planned on testing the test waters via a website first.
"It seemed like a sensible thing to be able to educate men before they purchased," he says.
Wharton now has two fashion brands: The Bespoke Corner, a high-end luxury Italian made-tomeasure suiting business, and Midnight Tailor, an affordable made-to-measure suiting business based in Hong Kong.
"My businesses rely heavily on Men's Fashion Blogger. I believe having an audience and a level of influence before trying to sell a product gives you a massive head start," he says.
Ramzy Nawzar, 30, moved to Australia from Sri Lanka at 17 with the intention to study. It led to his decision to remain and start a fashion styling business.
In 2010 he launched Styled By Ramzy –which has seen him work for Zegna, Dom Bagnato, Joe Black and Canali as well as a personal stylist to celebrities and a black book of private clients.
"For me it made sense to choose Melbourne to start my business where there is a growing market for my services and the opportunity to meet and work with like-minded people," Nawzar says.
He admits being social media savvy paves the way for more opportunities. He continues to work across continents, liaising with major department stores in Sri Lanka, Dubai and Australia.
"If you're smart, positive, and have the right attitude you'll find plenty of work opportunities," says Ramzy. "No-one starts a business to be small, but you might find you have opportunities in countries other than your own which is nice too."