Mohair, minks and milk. Angora furs and Wattie’s. With a dollop of Maori flavor, New Zealand fashion label Stolen Girlfriends Club introduced their fall collection via the supermarket. The outlandlish approach to presentaion is relevant for this Oceanic label and also for the sweep in acclaim of recent designers at the forefront of the back country. Despite New Zealand’s neighboring surf and swimwear moguls (Speedo, Roxy, Billabong, Seafolly), there exists an increasingly sought after Aussie and off-scene Oceania style embedded in couture and everyday wear with their influential indigenous textiles. Evocative of adventure and of an abyss of terrain, culturally and continentally Oceania is the host of Australia and New Zealand accounting for 99% of the continent’s population, and not exactly ubiquitous with glamour and glitz. But a few far east fashion fighters have put some lipstick on the frontlines, sprucing up an outdoor image where locals would normally foot thong hop from bank to bar.
The international move towards innovation and unprecedented looks has called upon the great outdoors for a lift on stitches. Australia alone boasts an estimated $14B fashion industry. Among more recent breakthrough designers on the emu turf such as Romance Was Born, Sass & Bide, Lonely Hearts, and Ksubi, is Marc Moore’s The Stolen Girlfriends Club. This A-list of Aucklanders and Aussies has sparked worldwide coverage and turned a stylish crowd of heads not only for their richness in originality and art but also for their quirky, sometimes godly, and in the case of SGC, downright improvised catwalks. With zero knowledge of fashion as a career, let alone how to patch a hole, Marc Moore has pieced together a nearly seamless fashion house from the ground up. This season Moore’s work walked off the planks and raided the supermarket.
“In fashion we must always try to present our collections in novel ways, otherwise the clothes are just clothes.” – Marc Moore
Strutting past detergent and cereal, tough-girls slash rebel-princesses slash sex-kittens raided the local Auckland aisles of a Ponsonby New World market in Stolen Girlfriends Club fashion.
AG: The supermarket runway. What was that all about? MM: The motive for showing our ‘untitled’ collection at a supermarket was suprise! We liked the idea of taking the collection away from it’s usual/expected context. In fashion we must always try to present our collections in novel ways, otherwise the clothes are just clothes.
AG: What was the biggest challenge with holding a show in a supermarket? MM: The biggest challenge was the general public. People were there to do their weekly grocery shopping so you can imagine their suprise (and some people were genuinely shocked)! There were also people there that were not into fashion at all; you could see them shaking their heads – and this was in a negative way.
AG: What was the reaction from your models when they found out about the location? MM: They were all fine with it and loved the idea. I think in NZ we have a very ‘can-do’ attitude.
AG: How prepared was the so-called audience for the show? MM: Not at all. They had no idea. I saw one old lady that was really mad because the show had interrupted her shopping.
AG: How far in advance did you begin to prepare the show and how did you decide which supermarket? MM: We decided about three months before. We were working with Red Bull on the project, so it felt natural to work with the supermarket that was situated just around the corner from the Red Bull office. But also, that supermarket is right in the middle of Auckland’s most fashionable suburb, Ponsonby, so it all made sense to us.
AG: What other non-conventional runways shows have impressed you? MM: I loved a show by a brand called Ksubi / Tsubi back in 2000. I think they released rats onto their catwalk. Some of the shows by Romance Was Born are amazing, true showmanship and on a tight budget – it is amazing what they can achieve. I loved the Alexander McQueen show where he had that model & her dress painted live in front of the audience.
AG: Your collections breath a bit of rebel flavor. They seem to evoke a subtle dark side, while still remaining elegant. Who is the general target for your designs? Is there a particular character or personality that you have in mind when conceptualizing your pieces? MM: I think for certain that our girl is generally a little tougher. She’s a beautiful girl that likes to look elegant when she needs to; but this isn’t all the time. Most of the time she is hanging in her jeans and wearing her boyfriends T-shirt.
AG: The philosophy and concept behind Stolen Girlfriends Club? MM: I think our main thing with the brand is that we want to do things differently. We never wanted to be a typical fashion label or purist designer brand. We are untrained in fashion – no formal study whatsoever. The good thing about that is that we were never made aware of the limitations, and we were never taught a ‘right way’ of doing something (like designing a garment or presenting a collection). So instantly I think our brand has a different feeling about it, a real personality. At the end of the day it really is a club and I guess the people that buy our garments are ‘joining this club’. A group of like-minded individuals perhaps? That all want to do things differently in their lives. They don’t want to adhere to and follow the rules.
AG: What do you want to be known for? MM: Great catwalk shows & clothes that empower people. I think for someone to invest in a piece of our clothing, it needs to empower them. Either that or liberate them!
AG: Do you feel you have the power as a fashion designer to impact the image of women in society today? MM: I don’t think so, well not yet. Surely we want to make women feel sexy, we want to empower them because we love women. For the moment, we just want to make clothes they will wear and feel good in.
AG: What is it that keeps you returning to fashion design collection after collection? MM: Before fashion we were self-claimed artists. Starting the fashion label was an extension of our art. We felt that fashion encompassed art & music & film, all the things we loved. It is forever challenging and we never stop learning. I think it is this that keeps us coming back each and every season for more.
AG: The greatest challenge as fashion designer today versus 10 years ago? MM:There are so many amazing labels and designers out there now. And it is increasingly easier to reach potential customers now with the internet. All these things make it even more competitive (with the fashion industry already being a hugely competitive industry).
AG: What is “trend” to you, and do you study or keep up with trends in the fashion and design world? MM: A trend is what people are into – or going to be into (we hope!). Yes we do have to keep an eye on international trends. We are from NZ and somewhat detached from the fashion world. But to be relevant and appear international we do need to monitor trends. We always know the trends that feel right for our brand, and if we utilize them we always manage to put our own spin on them, to create something that feels accessible/familiar but fresh and new all at once.
AG: If you were not designing clothes, what might you be doing at this point in your life? MM: I always thought i would be great working for an advertising company in the creative department. Ideas are my strength.
AG: Who are some of your iconic fashion designers or fashionistas, whom have inspired you and/or your work? MM: I love Ricardo Ticsi’s work – one of my favourites. I always admired Hedi Slimane for his creative talent on many levels. Some of the bloggers have helped me with inspiration, like Rumi Neely from www.Fashiontoast.com and Gala Gonzales from www.Am-lul.Blogspot.com.
AG: What is your view of American fashion? Are there cities within the States that you feel understand and posses quality style, and unique fashion? MM: I have a connection with New York. I went there for my first ever time 2 years ago and fell in love with the city. I think in general we are not too inspired by American fashion, well, not recently but we do feel inspired by American vintage which I think alot of people are – almost that Americana vibe. But to be honest, I felt people dressed quite conservatively in general. I was more inspired by the energy / atmosphere of New York more than anything.
AG: Where might we find you on a day full of free time? Guilty pleasures? Secret getaways, hang outs under the radar? MM: I go surfing every chance I can get – rain or shine. We all have a love of surfing that has lasted for around 20 years now. We have actually collaborated with an amazing surfboard shaper from Sydney. So, we will have a range of Stolen Girlfriends Club surfboards to release next year!
AG: Who would you like to partner with on future design work? MM: We have worked with some amazing people so far, but it is alway organic- so we never set out to work with someone in particular. We often bump into people – say at a party or a cafe, and we get talking and if we find we have a mutual appreciation for each others work then we make that decision to work with them. For photography we have worked alot with Derek Henderson who is amazing and so talented! And for art we have collaborated with karl maughan who is one of my favourite artists. We have worked with brands such as Mini, & Red Bull. But for the future I dont know! Who knows who we will ‘bump’ into tomorrow.
AG: Who do envision wearing your designs? MM: I love the way some of the models dress during the day. It sounds a little cliche that whole ‘model off duty’ look doesn’t it! And i am a little idealistic in the sense that I love beauty, and if I see a beautiful girl that is dressed well i become so inspired – i can imagine garments that she would wear instantly. For me, Daria Werbowy & Jamie Bochert are impeccable, they are it for me! I saw Jamie Bochert when I was shopping in paris and she was magnificent. Def one of my muses.
AG: Are you where you thought you might be one day? MM: I actually had no idea we would be where we are today. We were just a couple dreamers back in 2005. Sitting around in our shitty garage drinking beers, and talking about how we should start making T-shirts for our friends & for our girlfriends. It was just a matter of taking things one step at a time. Now we are still small in the grand scheme of things but we have an office, we have amazing staff, and we have a following that is pretty much global. We are thankful for that and remain humble knowing how lucky we are to be doing something we love.