For men who want to look stylish, yet relaxed and don’t want to wear a suit, Utility is their label of choice. Taking the best of men’s tailoring and combining it with great shirts, jeans, chinos and knitwear, Utility mixes quality fabrics and modern fits with a nod to old-school construction.
They believe style is about more than the cut of your shirt or great fitting pants or the quality of your jacket. It’s about the attitude you put on every day and wear with confidence. That’s why they highlight the details in their clothing, so that when you get dressed everyday, you’ll see the craftsmanship and construction of their clothes and know that they’re as confident and stylish as you are.
Utility is inspired by the easy Australian lifestyle of city living, the beach, lush countryside and tropical climates and they are hand crafted in Sydney Australia, in small quantities to allow you to create your individual style.
We recently had a chat with the iconic lifestyle brand to delve further into their history; discover the inspiration that `plants a seed’ for the next collection; and the process behind their design before they exhibit the range next month at Premiere boutique trade event from 26-28 August at the Royal Exhibition Building.
Tell us about the history behind the brand? When it was first started? Why? and how?
Christiaan has worked in the Australian fashion industry for over 20 years and for most of the big names in the business. Richard has been managing creative teams for over 15 years and is now the General Manager of Dinosaur Designs. We first started the brand in 2010 as a way to design and make the type of clothes we love and for which we knew there was a gap in the market. We wanted to build a quality international brand that reflected contemporary Australia and was manufactured here. Like most men, we want clothes that will last for more than one season and still look good, or even improve with age.
We originally started with a financial backer but she got in to trouble with the GFC, leaving us with a very tough decision to make. As we were already well into it, had received orders and invested our own money, we chose to continue on smaller scale. We’re in our third season and still enjoying every minute of it.
Where do you source your inspiration? And how do they drive you and influence your design?
The theme for a season can come at any time and from anywhere. It can be an image, a piece of fabric, a passage from a book, a film. It’s usually something that ‘plants a seed’ in my mind for a long time and feeds into, or expands previous ideas. The internet has democratized research, but by itself, that can be a bit dry, it has to be evolved to create your own point of view. The inspiration for the Summer 12 collection was a photograph. Inspiration for Winter 13 collection started for me with a single piece of Italian cotton shirting – I was besotted with it. That one little piece of fabric has informed the whole range, as I went about sourcing fabrics to work back with it. I’m really thrilled with the way it has all come together, so I think that listening to your gut instinct can’t be beaten.
How do you transfer these inspirations into design? Talk us through your design process from drawing board to in-store/online?
For me it’s a case of finding the fabric to fit my theme, taking the inspirations I have and starting to sketch. There’s no point in sketching and then trying to find a fabric to match, the fabric’s such a big influence on the final piece. From there I cut most of the patterns, which in itself, can lead to other new ideas and then I make the toiles myself before handing them over to the manufacturer. I try and work as closely as possible with the machinists in the factories to achieve the look I want.
Can you tell us the story behind the name?
We wanted something that would convey that good quality clothing wasn’t for just for special occasions, that well made clothes should be for everyone to wear every day, for a long time. Hence ‘Utility’. Disposable fashion is extremely environmentally unsustainable as brands dive to the bottom in terms of quality of fabrics and working conditions.
We wanted to create something that would look good, last more than a season or two and focus on sustainable practices. We worked closely with an amazing graphic designer called Marita Leuver from www.leuverdesign.com.au who created our stunning graphics and gave “Utility’ its polished high-end look.
You are about to showcase the brand at Premiere in August, why did you choose this event and what do you hope to gain?
The Winter 13 collection, named HAZE, is our first ‘big step’ at taking the brand to where we want it to go from both a product and branding perspective. Premiere was the only choice for us in terms of getting our product to the largest number of people in the shortest length of time. As a new business we have to increase our exposure and get our product in front of the right buyers and media to gain new orders.
What’s in store for the future – where do you see the brand heading?
Ultimately, we want to have three strands to the sales side of the business; a vibrant wholesale business where we work with leading independent retailers and boutiques, a concept store in every Australian city and longer term, export into Europe, Asia and specifically the Chinese domestic market.
In terms of product, we’d like to increase our offering with more regular deliveries to store, a line of Australian hand made leather accessories and a line of underwear, which is already on the drawing board…
For more information on Premiere, visit our website premiere.net.au