When Sydney designer Wesley Chiang first started making fashion, he did it incognito. He was just out of uni, doing a graphic design internship and feeling creatively unfulfilled.
“I made a website and just put up a few ideas,” he tells Broadsheet. “I wanted to do it anonymously because I was so young... I was self-conscious about my work, and just myself in general, so wanted to have this anonymous platform to get a gauge of what people thought of the stuff I was doing.”
Chiang started trading under the name Pseudonym Store, then switched to Pseushi (pronounced “sushi”, after his favourite comfort food) – a label he started with a friend in 2015 and now runs solo.
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It’s an all-genders label with “an emphasis on local construction, premium fabrics and graphic design”. And whether his name’s been attached to them or not, Chiang’s threads have gained customers from the beginning with no-nonsense streetwear delivering boxy fits and understated pop culture aesthetics.
A “self-taught clothing designer”, Chiang makes the most of working alongside local Sydney and Australian makers and specialists. “Everything I know is learnt through a mistake or a conversation,” he says.
“I want to build relationships with people who do these things in Australia, especially in Sydney, because there are just less and less of them. There’s no-one young who’s like, ‘I want to be a denim maker’, or ‘I want to go work at a dye house’. A lot of the people are almost retiring. It’s kind of sad, but while they’re still around I want to learn as much as I can from them.”
Pseushi’s latest denim drop – ’90s-style baggy and straight denim styles in a range of colourways – is made locally by a specialist who’s been producing jeans for 40 years. A winter collection (featuring, among other designs, a new drill cotton jacket, zip hoodie and ribbed long-sleeve top) is on the way for June, joining the core range of jerseys, tees and hoodies the label’s become known for.
As with all Pseushi output, the current collection is aimed at all genders. It’s a design philosophy that comes naturally for Chiang, he explains.
“The clothes that I’ve been designing from the start, they were never defined as male or female clothing. It wasn’t something I specifically chose or a decision I made to say, ‘Hey, this is an all-genders label.’ Why should it ever be defined as one or the other?”
For someone so interested in style, Chiang is equally passionate about championing substance in how Pseushi operates moving forward. Currently in the process of transitioning to a global fashion calendar for overseas sales, he’s adamant about staying Australian-made and makes it a point to pay the rent, with 20 per cent of yearly profits donated to Aboriginal justice organisations.
It’s an outlook shared by Pseushi devotees, he says. “It’s a lot more fulfilling designing for someone who takes the time to consume products or information consciously. That’s my person.”