In recent years there’s been an overwhelming sense that independent fashion in Australia was on the way down. But for Amy and Adam Coombes, the dynamic couple behind Melbourne-based label Kloke, things couldn’t be more different. Sharing a strong love for design and bolstered by cracking credentials to boot, things couldn’t have aligned more perfectly when the two friends fell in love.
In 2011 Kloke was born, starting small and growing progressively ever since. Taking inspiration from the sea, World War I M60 splinters, birds-eye-view parachute camouflage prints and fault lines from the earth’s surface, Kloke defiantly bucks against the fast-paced season by season trend setting fashion tends to imbibe, not by rallying loudly and garishly, but rather by taking a deep breath and moving in a far more holistic way. “Each collection is a natural evolution from the past seasons. The Kloke collections are an interpretation of that evolution,” explains Adam.
This season’s OUTLOOK collection delves into the misty world of people and process, outlook and introspection, the study of pattern and perspective. Amy admits, “Adam's always been into military attire; it's hard wearing and functional in design. But there’s a real history behind the different camouflage prints and the many variants and form of each countries camo and the way they interpret the link to the earth's surface. It becomes even more interesting when you pull the camo out of its traditional sense by wearing it in a new environment.”
This recurring obsession with linking garments back to the earth and the surface on which we all live may seem a little obscure, but for the Coombes, it’s the core of the Kloke ethos. “The intent is to craft technical yet tailored garments that interact with the wearer and their environment. We try to make clothing that is your favourite piece in your wardrobe. Easy to wear with high quality, detail, cut and thought process.” Adam says.
Having both clocked up time working with some of Melbourne’s most popular labels, including Gorman, FAT and Alpha60, it was only a matter of time before the duo started their own adventure. “We were both working in the industry and starting Kloke was a natural progression for us,” explains Adam. “We’ve both had really positive experiences; we’ve seen businesses become strong and iconic. So for us, even though the landscape for local labels has changed considerably, we still feel that there is a place for new design. It’s a way of expressing ourselves. The further we develop Kloke, the more risky it becomes, but as it does it also becomes a more personal and fulfilling job. Every day is exciting.”
With many Australian labels in dire straits and others opting for online-only, the duo once again decided to go their own way, opening the first Kloke store on Brunswick Street last week. Says Amy, “We just wanted it to be part of who we are and for people to be in a calming and relaxed space where neither the clothing nor the design takes over. We had a great team on the project and are really happy with the final result.” Working with Sibling on the design of the Zen-like space and Roopacorp on the fit out, entering the store feels almost like you’ve stepped off the bustling street into an alternate, meditative world.
With so much now going on, Amy is quick to admit that the average day is a luxury they no longer have. “It's pretty unpredictable! Due to the creative process, we're often working really late or really early.” There’s no signs of things slowing down, with Kloke having just completed the uniforms for the soon to open Hotelhotel in Canberra and the label being picked up in Japan. “We're now focusing on our next range with them and looking at Summer '14, “says Adam. “But having the store is definitely something we feel helps complete the Kloke experience.”
270 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9078 6600