“We wanted to make a first product line that could almost be like a capsule wardrobe – so everything in it is designed to go together,” says Noskin director Tony Corrales. The new unisex clothing company (pronounced “no skin”) launched earlier this year with a compact range. There’s a heavy-duty button-up shirt that you might throw over a T-shirt in transitional seasons, straight-cut jeans that’ll outlast skinny or oversized trends, and black Chelsea and combat boots (made in the world’s first vegan footwear factory in Brazil).
“[Each item is] designed to be evergreen, to stay with us through the life cycle of the brand,” says Corrales, who launched the company with fellow vegans Jai Long (a former wedding photographer) and Ash Pierce, who brings with her a decade of experience working with Lee, Wrangler and Neuw Denim.
Corrales has been vegan for 16 years, and though he’s seen the plant-based movement grow in the food and drink industries, especially in urban areas, he tells Broadsheet that clothing brands haven’t entirely caught up. “There are still a lot of animal products within fashion,” he says. “Our goal is to change the perception of vegan and sustainable clothing by being design and aesthetics led.”
The small-scale label operates out of a warehouse in Collingwood. Its clothing and footwear is made across the globe, working with a number of manufacturers that Pierce got to know during her time with the big denim companies.
Noskin’s shirt is made in China, its denim comes from Japan and is manufactured in Hong Kong, and its boots are handmade in a factory in Brazil known for its alternative-leather production.
“We’ve got a great partnership there, and they make shoes for a lot of ethical vegan brands because there’s a lot of traceability. They’ve got access to some of the great up-and-coming vegan materials as well – for example, a leather alternative that is also biodegradable – which we can trial in upcoming styles,” says Corrales.
Singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett is a fan; she’s been spotted wearing Noskin boots on tour. Barnett was also a guest on the brand’s Coffee With a Creative blog series. “We love to see our clothing on creators, working while wearing our stuff … We’re making this for people who are wearing it every day. [They’re] all designed to be staples.”
Noskin came about in part due to the pandemic – Pierce’s contract at Lee and Wrangler came to a close at the beginning of the global response to Covid-19 – and it hasn’t been without its challenges. The Collingwood studio has been open to the public on just three weekends since July 2021. Lockdowns across the country have meant waves of online orders and periods of quiet. And the self-funded company is competing within an industry that’s questioning its practices across environmental, human rights and animal rights issues.
“Transparency is key, and I think that’s the same for a brand our size or one as big as H&M,” says Corrales. “Fashion is a tough industry and an environmentally damaging industry … It’s about supporting where people are trying to get to, so that the next generation of brands can collectively have a much better impact than what the current set of brands is doing.”