It is quite fitting that Handsom’s latest collection took inspiration from luggage labels. The designers, Sam Rush and Henry Allum, recently packed up shop and relocated from Sydney to Melbourne. Since the beginning, Handsom has been a label on the move: Rush and Allum are originally from England, both studied at Leeds University before moving, and launching, their label in Australia.
“We’d been travelling for nearly six months when we landed in Australia. We fell in love with the country and the lifestyle,” Rush and Allum say. “It wasn’t initially our plan to stay, but we made such good friends here we felt at home pretty quickly.”
Surrounded by young creative types, and feeling there was gap in the market, the duo decided to start a label in Australia. “Despite our love of so many Australian labels, we didn’t feel there was anything offering quite the aesthetic we were looking for, at a price we could afford,” say the designers.
The couple’s separate backgrounds – Rush’s in fashion and Allum’s in product design – likely helped them to see the potential in creating fashion-focused—yet wearable— wardrobe staples. “We find that our two different approaches to design really benefits the label,” they say. “It means that we get a good balance of the skills of each discipline: textiles, pattern making and range planning; graphics, marketing and attention to detail.”
Offering both menswear and womenswear, Allum will generally oversee the men’s design while Rush will manage the women’s line. “There’s a big overlap between menswear and womenswear – in fact a lot of our styles are unisex,” Rush explains. “The overlap comes with fabrics, trims, print design and the general concepts behind a collection, which we will work on together.”
Their latest collection, spring/summer 11-12, was inspired by a book of early 20th Century luggage labels documenting the ‘Age of Travel’, which they found in a secondhand store back in England. “People used to collect these labels from each new destination they visited as a souvenir, and we named each garment after a different one,” says Rush. “Throughout the collection we wanted to create a relaxed feeling and a sense of leisure, through comfortable fabrics and simplistic cuts, but still incorporating fun prints and detailing.”
The designers saw the opportunity to move south when it was time to change studios in Sydney. “Although we loved our time in Sydney, we’ve always felt that Melbourne was the place for us… it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make the move,” Rush says. “It felt like it took forever to find the right place, but now we have a great studio space in Fitzroy and a lovely house not too far from there – we are loving it down here. It was definitely the right move.”
Only a few seasons in the business, Handsom is stocked in 15 stores across Australia and as of autumn/winter ’12, the label will be in over 20.