Sydney unisex beachwear label Double Rainbouu has enjoyed a charmed run since launching in 2016. It has shown at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia and Pitti Immagine Uomo in Florence; is stocked by Opening Ceremony, Net-A-Porter, Barneys and Selfridges and has amassed more than 10,000 followers on Instagram. All this after launching with just one unlikely product (in five prints): a Hawaiian shirt.
For Mikey Nolan and Toby Jones, simplicity is key. When the former creative directors of Ksubi embarked on the new project together, the idea of working with just one product struck a chord.
“It was a good way to get attention,” he says. “People were like, ‘You just do Hawaiian shirts? That’s weird. We’ll have a look.” He says it also made it easy for buyers to understand the brand. “Because the offering was small, big retailers like Opening Ceremony found in-season budget to put it straight on the shop floor.”
It also helped the brand in Australia to have a strong sense of provenance. “Beachwear is an extension of our culture,” says Nolan. “Place is important, otherwise it can feel a bit anchorless. Beachwear is something the world looks to [Australia] for.”
Double Rainbouu’s latest collection is called SYTNH UUAVE. Based on the idea of a synthetic beach, it will show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, running May 13-17. “We’ve been thinking about synthetic environments and simulation,” says Nolan. “The idea of a synthetic beach, [pro surfer] Kelly Slater’s wave pool, which is being used for the pro-surfing circuit for the first time. Musically we have been listening to a lot of our old favourite post-punk and new wave music and looking at those movements graphically. Some of that energy translates into the prints.” The results are on the rack in the form of unisex leisure suits, denim and and expanded merino graphic knit program. “We have our new DR X LE SPECS eyewear collection launching as well,” says Nolan, “as well as a DR X GLOBE shoe we have designed.”
Since launching with Hawaiian shirts the brand now includes T-shirts, shorts, swimwear, fluffy pool slides and knitwear – most of it unisex. The label’s clientele has also shifted; originally it was 65 per cent male. Now it’s 50:50 and Nolan and Jones think female customers will soon eclipse male ones. One reason might be that good unisex clothes with boxy cuts that actually look good on a woman’s body are hard to find. “In some ways it wasn’t a surprise because the women’s market is bigger,” says Nolan. “But we didn’t expect it.”
The Double Rainbouu office is on Little Buckingham Street in Surry Hills. The team shares a space with other Australian brands in Emma Mulholland, Poppy Lissiman, and Kit X. “I’ve worked in Surry Hills for 15 years in four different locations and this is my favourite pocket of town so far,” says Nolan. His local secret? “I just discovered Vietnamese Healthy Rolls. It’s run by a lovely lady and she makes her own pate and mayonnaise. Go on a Friday – her mum comes in and they make a great Vietnamese pancake.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with City of Sydney. Double Rainbouu’s SYNTH UUAVE collection will show as part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in May. Buy tickets to the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weekend Edition from 18–19 May here. The City of Sydney is proud to sponsor Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia and to support emerging and existing fashion brands and retailers in our city. Follow and use the hashtag #sydneylocal on Instagram for more local secrets.