I’ve travelled a lot recently, especially round Europe and on arrival in these cities – if I get the time – I always try and search out the local independent menswear or streetwear store. The goal of this isn’t just to see how these guys do it but also to see if I can pick up something that I cannot get back at home. In recent years this has become a fruitless endeavour, the Internet has almost standardised the brand selections in this level of store and on most occasions there is nothing I can get in even the most expertly stocked European stores that I couldn’t pick up down the road in Goodhood. I want something exciting and different, something to grab my attention and I’m just not getting them from the old guard of ‘taste making’ stores.
This analogy doesn’t exactly apply to StreetX, the Perth, Aus based streetwear store currently making waves with its in-house brand, as I can pick up most of their collection from Flatspot. However they do represent what I used to love about these kinda stores, stocking product from their friends that you probably can’t find anywhere else in Australia and only selling their own brand internationally to a select few likeminded folk. Their youthful vigour permeates all that they do and it’s exciting to see them succeed on the international stage.
Their recent collaborations with Canada’s Raised by Wolves, sports giants Champion, London’s TooMuch and the artist Manface show that they’re dexterous curators and I’m definitely excited to see what they do next. They may be the other side of the world, but they’ve got our attention.
When did StreetX Start, and what was the reasoning for opening a store in Perth?
Started officially back in December 2011. However, I was underway with planning things from August or so that year. Basically, I was always super interested in the whole ‘streetwear’ sort of vibe as well as the business side. I was finishing my degree at University and a few of the units were based solely around the start up of a new business.
Following on from that, I decided to take a calculated risk and start to get things rolling whilst in my last semester. The store was originally planned out to be an online only store to cater to Perth initially, and then flow over to the rest of Australia. As per most business plans, plans are there to be changed and I thankfully ended up on a completely different tangent that’s lead me to where we are now, 3 and a half years or so later.
What’s the streetwear & skate scene like in the city?
The whole ‘ streetwear’ thing is pretty cool here in Perth. Many people are about it. As per any trend, you get certain people who shy away from it as it becomes popular. Right now, the ‘streetwear’ thing is great and will continue to be our avenue for the foreseeable future. Basically, the store revolves around what everyone involved is into. From the store buying, designing to the products we produce everything sits relatively close in the same realm.
The whole high fashion thing seems to be pretty apparent in Perth right now with a few new stores and what not going down that lane. Not my vibe, nor will it ever be my vibe, just funny to see how people change so drastically with the times and the trends. For us, we’ll keep doing what we do and people will continue to roll with that or move off in their own direction.
Skate wise, that’s not me. I play football, like martial arts and attempt to surf (pretty much fail though). Skate scene is pretty cool here though; few dudes hold it down really well.
How important is the local community around StreetX for the store?
Community is everything for us. Since day one, everything we’ve done has been heavily influenced by the things and people around us. The store has been built around the idea of creating a space for the boys to hang out and people to come through without being cramped by product or fittings. We’re young dudes running a business in the middle of the city, as can expect we want to have fun with the space too. We do parties every so often at the store and just clear the stock for everyone to come through. Few tins, few funnels and a few girls too.
To this day we still heavily use the area we are in as part of a branding, we want to constantly bring people to the shop, as well as the area. You’ll always see Northbridge / NBR / William st / 6/189 used throughout the branding as smaller elements. My view is that the better one business does, the better the surrounding businesses do. Right now we have a cool little area of small businesses around us that add to the stores vibe. Don’t get me wrong, we’d be happy to be off by ourselves too, however it’s always great seeing those situated around you doing well.
How do you choose the brands for your store?
First and foremost, its based on what I like as a buyer. If a brand catches my eye, ill look into it further and find out more about it and the people involved. For me, the brand is one thing, but its what’s behind it that really counts. I’ll always reach out to people and try find out more and speak to friends who might have an idea about a new brand I’m trying to suss.
At the current stage, I try to do business mainly with friends and people I now know. Its much more fulfilling and really makes you want to succeed with their product. Once you have a good relationship with the people involved, it makes you want to do your best to push that brand and make them do as well as possible.
For example, we’re really tight with the guys over in NYC at The Good Company. For us, it’s about creating a lasting link so we’ll constantly be repping their stuff out here and they’ll be doing the same out there. Working with friends and people you respect is always great and you can’t go wrong.
Do you sell ‘lifestyle’ products too? And how do you balance these against clothing?
For sure, the store is about creating something rather than just clothing. Anyone can make a t-shirt or something like that, you want to create a whole vibe that people want to buy into, something that people want to wear and be apart of. We have a large range of clothing combined with a bunch of accessories and smaller things like zines and books. Also, we have a PS4 and FIFA in store at all times which is pretty rad.
When did you decide to branch out with an in-house brand?
For me, that was always the goal. I always wanted to do a brand but never sort of knew how. After I worked pretty hard to build up the store, the brands we dealt with and the whole community vibe I thought there was more of a foundation to build upon. I started off doing the odd piece here and there and after about a year and half started to take it way more seriously.
Now, I handle everything with one of my best friends, Scott Mellor. We handle literally everything brand orientated together now and it makes things far easier. We run two full days a week in the studio to get all the design and production stuff sorted and handle all the smaller things like emailing throughout the week or whilst I’m at the shop.
Why do you think more and more stores are doing this?
For me, it just came down to personal preference. I love the brands we deal with and will continue to deal with. However, making your own product is always tight, its a great feeling seeing people actually wanting to buy the things you’ve worked on. Ultimately, I feel that most of the people in the industry are on the same sort of wavelength and generally pretty creative. Thus, its only natural that more and more stores are producing their own products.
However, with that being said there’s still certainly some stores stuck in the dark ages doing the same old shit. For me, if you can keep up with market and produce a real product that actually has symbolic and significant reference to you as a person, you’ll be fine. The people / stores who are just producing product to cater to a certain market will eventually get found out and left behind.
Do you think the Internet has played a role in flattening the playing field a bit? So the in-store brand is the only way a store can have unique product?
No matter what, you can always have something unique. The whole experience the brick and mortar aspect brings can never be imitated online. If you can create something that brings more of an entertainment aspect to the whole side of retail, you can bring an element that can’t be created or met by an online store.
People aren’t just buying a t-shirt, they’re buying into the store, the people involved, and the culture and community surrounding it. The Internet is always going to be evolving and changing; as long as you’re on top of what you’re doing you’ll be fine.
Can you talk us through your brand a bit more, where are the reference points?
As I touched on earlier, I’m into the whole football, martial arts and surfing sort of thing, so obviously I have a lot of references centered around that. Looking at my reference file now, at least 50% of it would be old football pieces and logos along with sportswear inspired pieces. The whole football thing and being a fan of that product lead me down the sportswear track, so as you can imagine, a lot of the things I use are based around those elements.
As well as that, I just take in what’s around me all the time and compile references constantly. Everything we do is always strongly built around thought out references. For us, we always have a concept behind a release, however, most of the time no one will realise how the actual design and product came to fruition.
You collaborated with Manface recently, how and why did that come about?
Yes we did, was certainly one of the better releases we’ve done in a while. Basically, I’d been following him for a while and had always been a massive fan of his style and work. Was very interested in what he was doing and happened to mention it to one of my friends in LA, Red from CLSC. It turns out Red and Matt were tight so it grew naturally from there. I’ve always been tight with Red so it flowed over really well to Matt. From there we just went back and forth and expanded on what we wanted to do.
What exactly did you produce with him?
The full capsule consisted of two tee designs; two long sleeve designs and 20 customs etched dog tags and zippo lighters. The 20 pieces were custom hand etched, one off pieces by Matt.
Which brands from the UK are you into?
Big fans / work closely with TooMuch in London. Very low key vibe and great products. Certainly one of the brands we back. Also, got a great relationship with Josh from indcsn, another band we’ve worked with for a while. Obviously, you can’t go past Palace, the Umbro football capsule can’t be topped.
Words: Tom Kirkby