When Emporium and the redeveloped GPO opened in Melbourne in 2014, a wave of big-name international brands were ushered in to the CBD’s central fashion precinct. But some locals are helping address the balance, such as Nobody Denim, a family-run brand with a new Pop-In store located in The Strand Melbourne.
“It feels fantastic to be in the CBD,” says Nobody Denim co-founder John Condilis. “It’s really important to put your stake in the ground and say, ‘We can do this’.” Nobody Denim is stocked worldwide, but the temporary pop-up store located at The Strand is just the second Nobody Denim shopfront; the first being a concept store on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. “Our objective isn’t to open 20 retail stores,” says Condilis. “Wholesale is the core of our business. This store is an opportunity to showcase our brand, and for people to come in and find out what we stand for.”
“I’m a big believer that if it’s niche and unique, you should go for it,” Condilis says of his decision-making process. “You need to be passionate, live it and breathe it. Whether you’re making denim or T-shirts, you have to believe in your product.”
Nobody Denim grew quickly, picking up international stockists through the mid 2000s. But when the global financial crisis hit, it was a fight to keep production in Australia. The company pulled through, and Nobody Denim continues to wash and customise its jeans from its Fitzroy denim laundry.
Condilis describes the laundry as a “mad laboratory” – a giant workshop with “every tool under the sun”. “My background is in mechanical engineering, so being around equipment and operations is my forte,” Condilis says. “In our factory, creating is about how laterally you think. You know, people have used shotguns to shoot holes in jeans before. Not us. But we have used drills.”
The brand’s jeans are still created by hand; Nobody Denim employs 35 people, and they are responsible for cutting, making, washing and constructing. Condilis himself remains hands-on. “I love working with people and being involved,” he says. “If I let that go overseas, we’d lose that touch and sense of control [over standards].”
Design and development director Bek McQuoid works closely with Condilis. "I visit the laundry every morning, and John's there from 7.30am," she says. "Sometimes he's creating new tools to customise a jean style we've designed – the sandpaper often comes out."
With Nobody Denim garments being worn by high-profile names such as Miranda Kerr and Beyoncé, the time would seem ripe for international expansion. And yet the brand’s local success suggests there’s no need. Keeping the brand local also means Condilis can ensure Nobody Denim stays true to its family-oriented ideals. “Nobody Denim was always a collaborative effort,” he says. “That’s why we called it Nobody. It’s not just one person."
This article is presented in partnership with Nobody Denim. The Nobody Denim Pop-In Store is open now.