Statement pants are in – specifically, wide-leg statement pants. They’re on the runways, they’re in stores, and they’re on the street. They’re an easy way to make an immediate fashion impact, whether it’s Gorman’s wildly colourful slacks or Ellery’s signature bell-bottoms.
Slow-fashion label Flare Street is taking the trend a step forward by looking back. Founder Nik Shimmin’s limited-edition flares hark back to the hand-sewn, artistic versions so popular in the 1960s and especially the ’70s.
Shimmin founded Flare Street in 2013, designing and hand-stitching the pants with her mum. Since then, the label has grown into a full-time operation based in Melbourne’s Brunswick East, where Shimmin divides her time between her studio and a factory 10 minutes down the road. The flares are handmade by a local team of 10 tailors overseen by Shimmin.
Like an increasing number of local and international labels, Shimmin doesn’t design seasonal collections. Instead she releases limited-edition batches, which allows for small-run collaborations with different artists and designers and more control over the final product. The latest drop, Tuscan Dreams, is a psychedelic, sun-soaked trip through ’60s and ’70s Italian kitsch.
“We always print on velvet,” says Shimmin. “There are a range of different colours so you can dress them up and wear them out to dinner or to a gig, but they’re also very stretchy so you can wear them to work or just for laying about. A lot of people ask going into summer if they’re too hot, but that’s never been an issue. Because of the shape of the bell you get the breeze right up your leg.”
The velvet flares, which come in two patterns – the Chiara and the Amalia – made their international debut at New York Fashion Week last September. Shimmin created the Chiara with former Anna Sui collaborator Nolan Pelletier, who took cues from vintage catalogues and stained glass. Sydney-based illustrator Mish Vizesi designed Amalia, which features a peacock print with a garden-bed trim.
“We source our materials from local and independent suppliers and use a lot of dead-stock fabric, which means you save items from ending up in landfill,” Shimmin says. “The idea is that they’re a piece of art and something that people will hang onto for many years.”
For now, Flare Street has limited suppliers around Australia, but the full range can be found online.