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Dress to impress, Aussie style

Date

Stitched Up

Benjamen Judd looks at how clothes can make or break the modern day man.

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Pants by Neuw.

Pants by Neuw.

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.

Outfit by Whillas and Gunn.

Outfit by Whillas and Gunn.

Denim

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.

Weekend wear

Jac + Jack's Alex shirt and E Minor pant.

Jac + Jack's Alex shirt and E Minor pant.

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.

Smart casual

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.

M.J. Bale's Gleneden navy suit.

M.J. Bale's Gleneden navy suit.

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.

Suit yourself

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?

11 comments

  • Damn, I hope Aussie men's fashion isn't going in the direction suggested in the photos of these models. There is something very very worrying about three of those four pictures.

    Commenter
    Not Really
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    February 21, 2014, 2:38PM
    • Please by all means extrapolate upon that thought. Must burn that your Oakley wraparounds aren't mentioned

      Commenter
      Really not
      Date and time
      February 21, 2014, 3:21PM
    • Here's something completely different. Tony Abbott finally learned how to do a half Windsor. Or maybe the missus did. There's instructions on how on Wikipedia.

      Commenter
      Antechinus
      Date and time
      February 21, 2014, 10:21PM
  • This isn't Menswear! It's teenage wear. Give us real men with real bodies a break and get writers that have normal views of what Menswear is about!

    Commenter
    drdaz
    Location
    Doncaster
    Date and time
    February 21, 2014, 3:24PM
    • +1. We're not all Brilliantined stick-insects you know. And some men in their 40's and beyond still want to look snappy without dressing like cashed-up uni students

      Commenter
      Malarkey
      Location
      Canterbury (Vic)
      Date and time
      February 21, 2014, 3:46PM
    • You could try lowes. Or maybe those specialty stores for the 'bigger' man.

      Commenter
      Real bodies
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      February 21, 2014, 3:52PM
    • What in the hell is a real body? Firstly, you realise clothes come in different sizes? Secondly, that completely idiotic comment basically states that YOURS is the only body men can and should have and thirdly you didn't even have the decency to provide a description of what your apparently 'real man's' body looks like. It sounds as though all you have to offer is a whinge because you're unimaginative enough to actually try anything outside of a wifebeater and a pair of foot shorts three sizes too small. Doing wonders for the male style cause right there.

      Commenter
      Define real
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 21, 2014, 4:18PM
    • My apologies...should have realised who I was speaking to by seeing where you were living...Doncaster says it all.

      Commenter
      Define real
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 21, 2014, 4:56PM
    • +1 Malarkey and drdaz.

      As a 40+ short guy just outside of his BMI, I too would like to see some images for guys who have left puberty behind, and aren't tending to anorexia, sorry, I can only imagine how provocative that statement will be to some, but the guy in the suit looks, well, like a stick insect as you say.

      I understand we aren't necessarily the target audience, fashion being usually a younger person's game, but us older, 'fuller' guys need something we can relate to, and that is flattering to wear, just as 'bigger' girls get sick of seeing stick insect models held up as normal

      So to that end, Fairfax, as well as these images that may appeal to the younger set, how about also including something that's modern, yet remains that's timeless that works for a more 'mature' physique, (eg Sean Connery in a suit, circa 1964).

      Commenter
      beavis
      Date and time
      February 21, 2014, 6:40PM
  • I love the Loudness of David Smith shirts. Not only is he an Aussie but he's a Queenslander.

    Commenter
    Paisley
    Date and time
    February 21, 2014, 8:54PM

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