Spotlight On: 10 fashion businesses

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These ten fashionable homegrown small businesses have created unique brands and are making a name for themselves both here and overseas.

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1. URBBANA

Brisbane-based brand founder and designer, Sam Abi, launched URBBANA in 2009. Sam’s tailoring is combined with styles influenced by Australian flair and Mediterranean breeze. Since opening his first store located on the Brisbane River at Hamilton, he has expanded his presence throughout Australia, opening a second store in Melbourne and a third on the Gold Coast.

2. M.J. Bale

Founder of M.J. Bale, Matt Jensen, grew up in rural Yass, New South Wales. Being the son of a woolgrower, Matt’s passion for fashion emerged from his appreciation for Merino wool. While working in the finance industry in London during the 1990s that Matt found his passion for menswear, designing and manufacturing his local rugby side’s uniforms. In 2009, Matt branched out on his own and launched M.J. Bale with the help of some school friends. M.J Bale has over 30 stores across Australia.

3. Budgy Smuggler

Budgy Smuggler was founded by cheeky entrepreneur Adam Linforth who wanted a fun alternative to a traditional desk job. This family owned, fun brand is a unique take on a swimwear classic. Run by a group of millennials and founded in a back yard in Sydney, all budgy smugglers are 100% Australian made.

4. Skwosh

Melbourne-based Skwosh is a collection of men’s board shorts known for their bright prints. Founded by three friends – Jack Watts, Adam Walsh and Jack Turner – they each bring different talents to the table. Turner, a creative manager for Lee Jeans, is in charge of prints, design and creative. While Walsh runs the business and Watts runs the publicity along with being a Melbourne based AFL footballer for The Demons. Turner was the one who came up with the unique name Skwosh. Each season features a different collection of limited edition shorts in vibrant shades and tropical prints. Skwosh currently sell to customers in over 14 countries.

5. Apartment

Brisbane brothers Nick and Ben Chiu run the men’s fashion store Apartment. They first opened its doors in late 2006 starting off as a streetwear and sneaker brand. The stylish Queensland brothers aim to provide a mix of wearable outfits of the highest quality and cutting edge pieces from international brands.

6. BELANCÉ

Sydney-based BELANCÉ is an online men’s fashion and accessories business which was founded in 2012 by Theodore English and Oscar Perez. They opened the doors to their first boutique store in 2013 right in the heart of Sydney’s iconic suburb of Paddington. First experimenting with a successful Sydney pop-up shop, the duo then created their dream retail space. Belancé is committed to local labels and offers accessories from New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Portugal and the USA.

7.  Lessons

Perth-based business Lessons is a high-end streetwear store which opened in September 2014. It was built based on a shared vision by three individuals: Dani Mercer, her husband Conor Mercer and brother-in-law Jake Polce. Lessons combines showroom with an after-hours bar, holds parties and produces unique content for brands around the world.

8. Created Range

Adelaide-based Created Range is founded and run by artist and clothing designer Dave Court. His store encompasses streetwear and skate wear with a street art culture focus. He launched Created Range in 2014 with just seven well-selected brands. Dave works on the front-line in store as well as working on designing his own label, foolsandtrolls.

9. FROM BRITTEN P/L

Melbourne-based brothers Alexander and Tim Britten-Finschi are two stylish siblings who design and run a fashion label together which they launched in 2010. The duo’s Flinders Lane store is filled with high end labels including their own, From Britten, which received the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival’s National Designer Award.

10. Right Hand Distribution (RHD)

Having previously worked in the denim industry for several years internationally before opening his own shop in Adelaide, Andy Watson created Right Hand Distribution in 2009. How did they get such an unusual name? ‘Right Hand Distribution’ refers to the ‘right hand’ twill weave in denim which is the direction the cotton is generally woven on jeans. They were the first to stock Japanese brands to Australia such as ‘Samurai Jeans’ and ‘Sugar Cane’. Andy handed over the reigns of RHD to current owner Josh Krake in 2015.

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