Independent Clothing

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 Photography: Jamie Brougham

Photography: Jamie Brougham

A number of Perth independent clothing labels are challenging the mass-produced fashion industry with their unique designs and distinctive street wear apparel. Brands such as Bently Ltd, Oli Clothing, Dana Perth, Occur Clothing and MDLND have all been founded by Western Australians looking to create products that are not on the shelves of your nearest Myer, David Jones or General Pants.

Alex Passante’s clothing brand Bently Ltd was established late last year and now regularly sells out of different t-shirts, shorts, socks and hat designs. Passante, 19, has always wanted to start his own clothing label but it was a process he did not want to rush.

“It’s been an idea I’ve had for a long time,” Passante says,“nothing really prompted me to start it, it just slowly happened.

“I’ve always wanted to have my own brand that makes the style of clothes I want, but I didn’t want to jump into it not knowing what I was doing.”

Passante says he aims to produce unique products that cannot be found anywhere else in Perth. “I’m trying to tap into a new market,” he explains, "similar ideas have been done north of the river, but as far as I know Bently is the only street product south of the river.

“There is obviously a demand for different street wear products in Perth, but I am trying to make a style that’s different from the rest.”

Passante designs all Bently Ltd products and also hand crafts a majority of the t-shirts at his home studio, basing his production method on trial and error. “The general process is samples basically,” he says.

“Anything I think looks good I’ll get a sample made.

“But, if I make something I like a lot I usually go straight ahead and just get a fair few made up.”

Oliver McDonald’s label, Oli Clothing, is arguably the most popular independent clothing brand currently in Western Australia. McDonald has teamed up with surf brand Rusty for a number of collaborative designs and stocks his products in different stores across the city.  

McDonald was studying at Curtin University when he created his label, the idea stemming from a university assignment. He since has not looked back, with Oli Clothing taking over as his fulltime job. “We had to create a business or a product and I decided to do something I was aiming to do after university, so I thought I would give it a go and made up a little fake brand for it,” he says.

“It generated interest, so over the break I started putting a few things into practice and it has turned into what it is now.

McDonald says there is a high demand for independent clothing in Perth, "It is certainly something that is new to Perth and there is a much higher demand for it than street labels that might be made in China and overproduced.

“I guess for people in Perth it is a new thing for them, to see something that is made locally and that is more one off and original."

McDonald says Oli Clothing aims to give the consumer the option of originality,“I hope that people will appreciate something that is made with care and made in Perth at no one else’s expense.

“I hope people will support that, even if it means that shirts might take a little bit longer to get to you than expected, but you pay for quality.”

Stores such as Common Ground have opened up in Northbridge and Fremantle to solely accommodate for and stock locally produced clothing labels, further identifying the demand for locally produced clothing in Perth. 

For Passante, stocking his clothes in different stores is not a necessity. “It’s not a priority of mine, I would rather people find out about my clothes from people just spreading the word,” Passante says.

“But, having a shop along Albany Highway in Vic Park that gets a lot of foot traffic would be great – its something I hope to do within the next two years.”