Three Rising Streetwear Labels Style Converse's One Star
Having endured enough trends to claim stalwart status, the Converse One Star is one of those rare wildcard designs that managed to jump generations. Skate and street communities championed the One Star in the 90s, but who did they pass the torch to? We spoke to three up-and-coming local labels to find out how they identify with the One Star’s anti-conformist ideals.
Jungles is the brainchild of Jack Ferguson, a leisure-lauding idealist who embodies the brand's anti-hero values. If he gets his way, Ferguson will never have a 'real' job again. Here's how he's planning on doing exactly that.
You use Trainspotting's 'Choose Life' monologue to explain Jungles on your site. Why does it resonate with you?
That quote is about feeling frustrated and tired with the boring normalities in life and wanting something more — or at least something different. I don't know about you, but when I read that quote it lights a fire inside me and makes me want to go out and fuck shit up (metaphorically).
When I started this brand, it became an addiction for me and it’s given me a completely different life. It was a full-on risk and the odds weren’t in my favour, but I chose it anyway because, just like Mark ‘Rent-Boy’ Renton, there was no way in hell I was going to sit at a desk taking orders from someone my whole life!
How did Jungles begin? You've mentioned screen printing in your backyard.
I used to do dumb drawings for little exhibitions, then people started asking for t-shirts. My brother bought a small screen press because we couldn't afford to pay for screen printing. One thing led to another and I started printing band merchandise in the backyard and getting money from that. I did enough to quit my job at the burrito shop and haven’t had a job since.
What was the turning point that made you decide to take Jungles more seriously as a brand?
I went travelling for a year through Mexico, Central America and South America with nothing but a single change of clothes, living on absolutely nothing. It put me in a mindset of complete freedom and independence, so when I got back to Australia I was like, ‘no way am I getting a real job; I can do this myself.’
What’s been the steepest learning curve?
That there are people trying to take advantage of you from all angles. I used to be happy-go-lucky and very trusting, but not anymore. I made a few mistakes last year that caused me to go pretty much bankrupt, but I managed to recover and learned some valuable lessons.
You’re stocked by some huge retailers. How did you link with stores like Dover Street Market?
Dover Street Market were the first people to recognise Jungles internationally. They started the t-shirt section in the basement of their London store in 2016, along with a selection of other well-known brands. They picked out some smaller brands that nobody had ever heard of – Jungles was one of them.
Messaging seems important to you. What are you trying to communicate through your ‘Leisure Forever’ March capsule?
This collection is all about celebrating a life of nihilistic freedom through off-beat graphics that encourage the viewer to free themselves of day-to-day routines.
How do you pair footwear with a Jungles outfit?
Put the shoes on your feet, then put a shirt on your back.
There’s a light-hearted vibe through a lot of Jungles’ designs. Is that intentional?
Of course! I have all these ideas that I am conveying through the imagery, but if I keep it too serious it just comes out sounding stupid. Making it light-hearted is another way of keeping it fun and interesting.
What’s your advice to anyone starting similar ventures?
Commit yourself completely, or don't do it at all. The only way you will succeed is to quit everything else and focus all your energy into it. Be modest. Be patient. Do something that nobody else is doing.
If you couldn't tell by his ski mask, JUDAH.'s founder enjoys his anonymity. And if you want to know how someone born this side of the year 2000 built a flourishing label, read on.
Tell us about JUDAH., what is it? How did it start?
JUDAH. is a brand that was created based on the concept of freedom and individual diversity. It all started with me having a chat with a brother at some little skate park in the south-east suburbs of Melbourne about how I was tired off wearing clothes that had no meaning to me, clothes I didn’t fuck with. I knew my ideas had potential, I just had to believe in myself and follow through — no second guessing. Life is too short to live in regret.
What type of people do you want to see wearing JUDAH?
I really want to embed myself into the skate & music scene, both locally and internationally. I’d love to see a wide range of undergroundand mainstream musicians that I listen to wearing the clothing. I want to see everyone rocking JUDAH., all nationalities, all ages, all genders: world domination, baby!
You recently had a pop-up at Hand 2 Hand, how was the experience? What did you learn from it?
The pop-up shop was a dream. I learnt that there are a lot of people who support me, it’s truly a blessing.
You recently turned 18. Do you think your age is an advantage or disadvantage? Why?
I think my age is an advantage and disadvantage. It’s an advantage because I have many more years to try perfect the craft in creating, which is awesome, and also it could be inspiring to younger generation and also its awesome because I have a lot of other people to look up to whereas it’s a disadvantage because people may not take me as serious as another client.
Are there any instances where you’ve gone against people’s advice? Did it work out for you?
One instance I do remember was when I was making the camo tracksuit, a lot of people told me it was too loud & in your face. They didn’t think it would sell but it sold out.
Can you walk us through what you were thinking when you styled this shoot?
The idea was to use the area we live and grew up in, whereJUDAH. was born. We found a tree house made by local kids when we were exploring the hills, it was pretty sketchy and one of the chairs had been burnt, ants were everywhere.
I chose Jherri & Marley [the models] to shoot because I like their rawness, their own natural look, and put them in a mix of old and new JUDAH. clothes to show progression. I really like to use bold colours and One Stars’ lighter hues made for great contrast.
What type of footwear works best with a JUDAH. fit?
Before I began JUDAH. my homies would wear Cons, so seeing them rock both together is cool.
What’s next for the brand? What are you excited about?
I’m about to release a winter collection which will feature three all over tee shirts, two full tracksuits and one that’s velvet. I’m looking forward to building more partnerships and taking over the world.
Wesley Chiang is a Sydney-based creative who never planned to start a streetwear brand. However, a knack for screen printing — and a business-savvy friend — inspired him to start Pseushi. Here's how it happened.
What is Pseushi’s origin story?
The roots of it came from my need for a creative outlet. Combining my interests in creating graphics and clothes, the natural progression was learning how to screen print. I had no real intention of starting a ‘streetwear label’ until Chris approached me.
Do you come from entrepreneurial backgrounds, or is this your first endeavour?
Pseushi is has been my first exposure to anything marketing and business related, but it doesn’t hurt that Chris has already started small businesses of his own (I believe the count is at something stupid like 47).
You’ve said the name ‘Pseushi’ started as ‘Pseudonym Store’, what are some other names you were toying with?
I was flirting with the idea of hosting an online store named ‘Brickamortas’, derived from the term ‘Brick and Mortar’ and ‘Rigamortis’.
How did you know you could do something different to the myriad start-up labels out there? Where you apprehensive to start?
I think one of our strengths is our conceptual thinking abilities. Having both been through design school, I feel like we are able to develop deeper meanings and address larger issues through our ideas and executions.
Would it be correct to say that your imagery has a dark undertone? Where does that come from, and is it a conscious decision?
This is something that has been raised multiple times with us and still makes me laugh; it’s definitely not a conscious choice. To be honest I think it comes from neither of us drinking or party on the weekends too often and our darker thoughts and energies seep out through our work. Either that or we’re just two very grumpy boys.
Are there Easter eggs in your designs, or stories behind the imagery that hark back to when they were made?
There is always a story or sometimes multiple meanings to each of our graphics. We tend to develop concepts driven by anything that we have a strong emotional connection with: anything from music, films, books, historical events, personal experiences or relationships.
Sneakers often feature in your outfit shots, is there a profile or personality to a shoe that works well with your clothing?
I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one shoe, but the One Star is a classic. I wasn’t sold on the Lunarlon, but the constant revisiting and reworking of the shoe is something we can relate to.
What’s coming up for Pseushi next week? How about next year?
Right now, we are developing concepts for our next winter collection and exploring new ways to make more detailed garments. We are also in the process of collaborating with more local designers and talking with potential stockists, so exciting things to come!
To grab the Converse One Stars pictured, head here.