Five years and thousands of sales since the launch of Venroy, friends Theo Smallbone and Sean Venturi are preparing to spend summer in Sydney working the floor at their first concept store in Bondi. It’s called #9496 after its Gould Street address.
Meeting their customers face-to-face is going to be a massive learning experience, says Venturi. “It’s what we’re most excited about. Just to talk to people about how they like the fit, how they like the fabric,” he says.
Born out of Venturi and Smallbone’s mission to make the ultimate pair of boardies, Venroy is a “passion project” that quickly went global. In the early days, “No expense was spared,” recalls Smallbone. “The drawcord cost $2 from Japan, and it all came together at the end costing us $43 to make a pair of shorts, and we were wholesaling them for $45.” Today Venroy shorts are manufactured in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong and sold everywhere from major US retailers to more than 30 stores in Japan.
As well as a homecoming for the brand, the Bondi store is part of a shift away from Venroy’s historic focus on swimwear to a broader lifestyle-themed offering. New collections will comprise 80 per cent leisurewear, made from fabrics such as lightweight linen and pima cotton chosen for quality and comfort. “You can’t have leisure without comfort,” reasons Smallbone.
The new collections will be available at both #9496 and at a new website being launched at the same time as the Bondi showroom. More than an online store, Venturi wants the Venroy website to serve as “a full leisure manual”, with everything from travel tips to a Weekend Wisdom series to be published at the site’s blog.
Having spent much of the past five years living overseas, Venturi and Smallbone have a gained a useful insight into how Australia is viewed internationally. Ask anyone from any country in the world and they’ll tell you: “Australians have an authority to talk about relaxation and leisure,” says Venturi.
It’s a reputation the pair wants to capitalise on. Venroy’s existing online business has seen a steady stream of boardies delivered not to addresses in beachside suburbs, but to office towers in cities such as New York, which Venturi puts down to pure escapism. Visiting the Venroy website is, “A process of escaping the day-to-day grind for a lot of people,” he says. “At the moment it’s just buying a pair of shorts for a holiday, but we want to be able to offer so much more than that.”
94–96 Gould Street, Bondi