Byron Bay’s St Agni has always followed a “less is more” ethos. The label launched in 2014 with simple leather accessories and footwear, including its cult woven-leather slides.
It’s also known for its functional, refined apparel, and the latest collection, Ukiyo – a Japanese term meaning “floating world” – is both utilitarian and sculptural.
“It explores the symbolic relationship between function and shape,” says Lara Fells, who co-founded St Agni with her husband Matt.
Ukiyo takes cues from utilitarian 20th-century Japanese workwear and modernist American-Japanese artist Isamu Noguchi. Noguchi is known for his large-scale organic sculptures and use of innovative design principles in public space and for furniture. (His biomorphic coffee table is particularly famous.)
Japanese workwear is a mishmash of American post-war design and Japanese techniques. After World War II, discarded American denim and other fabrics were sent to Japan, and many apparel makers mimicked the clean-cut military aesthetic of American soldiers, while still using vintage sewing and weaving machines.
“We were inspired by the textures of the fabrics used and the military colour palette,” Fells says. “What we wanted to create was a modern, feminine take on the traditional workwear movement.”
“I think androgynous dressing is becoming more relevant now, with the topic of gender equality at the forefront of conversation and social change,” says Fells. “It really is a symbol of how far we have come – having the choice to wear what we feel good in.”
The collection is made with natural fibres such as raw silk, hemp, bamboo, linen and organic cotton in black, white, grey, brown and khaki green. The accessories range uses natural-dyed black and brown leather.
Fells travelled to China with designer Erika Toscano to source all the materials directly. “With texture and touch being such a crucial part of the collection, it was so amazing to go and source the fabrics first-hand,” she says.
For winter, the Gael jumper is made from an Alpaca wool blend and features a ribbed, fold-over turtleneck. The Hajime blazer and Kisho pants are cut from 100 per cent raw, undyed silk. Both pieces have a slightly oversized fit and can easily be worn together or mixed with other garments in the collection. The belted Osamu jumpsuit has cuffed angel sleeves and wide-leg pants. Pair it with square-toed Colette slingbacks and a hand-woven Ama clutch.
Part one of the Ukiyo collection is now available online.