Mark Pereira talks about the future a lot. New-season lines. Backpacks. Moving into the Asian market. He has big ambitions considering his label, Melbourne Apparel Co, is barely a month old.
The first store is next to Victoria Park Station in Abbotsford. It shares a grand brick warehouse with the second incarnation of Fresh Organic Goods cafe, which Pereira’s partner owns.
There’s no kitchen on-site – everything is prepped at the first cafe in Richmond then shuttled across. There’s okonomiyaki, toasties, fruit bowls and a range of smoothies. As the name implies, everything is raw, whole and organic, with nut milks and various caffeine-free lattes figuring strongly.
Past the seating area is the rough-and-ready plywood racks that constitute Melbourne Apparel Co. For now, the brand is only offering the basics: white-cotton T-shirts, jeans, tote bags and a selection of baby clothes. “We take a very minimalist approach to design,” Pereira says. “It’s all about function.”
Given Pereira’s experience, and the way the label is set up, his grand plans begin to seem more plausible. He’s worked behind the scenes at Nobody Denim, Bradmill, Country Road, Witchery, Gorman, Jack London, Claude Maus and more.
For MAC, he’s partnered directly with a manufacturer in Braybrook, who makes the clothes using cotton milled in Australia. They hit that elusive combination of quality and affordability, with T-shirts priced at $40.
“We’re a very technical brand – we’re focussed on the process,” Pereira says. He’s in talks to get cycling accessories, bed linen and other locally made products into the store.
Before the Abbotsford space closes, that is. Like Lulie Street Tavern across the road, the site will be turned into apartments within the next two to three years. At that point, who can say what sort of digs MAC might have moved on to?
Melbourne Apparel Co and Fresh Organic Goods
247 Johnston Street, Abbotsford
(03) 8456 8525
Mon to Fri 8am‒5pm
Sat & Sun 10am‒5pm