Handsom interview

British designers Sam Rush and Henry Allum are behind Melbourne-based fashion label Handsom. Sam chats to us as they head out to source fabric for their next collection.

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— iii.

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i. Women's AW/12 part 1
ii. Men's AW/12 part 1
iii. Women's AW/12 part 1
iv. Men's AW/12 part 1

All photos © Handsom 2012

How would you describe your label?

We make nice clothes.

Where do you place yourselves in the industry?

We see Handsom as more of a clothing brand than a 'fashion' brand. We are a boutique label, and it's always been our aim to produce clothes that our customers feel so comfortable and confident in that they want to wear them every day. 

How do you approach each new collection?

It's a case of getting all our ideas and inspirations down – whether that be in sketch format, or as mood boards – and we then translate these ideas into designs, working with the fabric swatches we have sourced for that season.

Is there something in particular that influences each collection?

There's usually lots of different things/places/films/people that influence our collections. It's a real melting pot, and over the course of the season our ideas often morph independently into something completely different from our original vision! 

Is there a recurring aesthetic? 

We have been told that we have a 'preppy' look, which may or may not come from our English upbringing.

Which labels and creatives do you appreciate?

We love the aesthetic of European brands like Acne, APC, Folk, YMC... They have a clean, minimalist approach to design. We are also loving the collages of US-based artist Beth Hoeckel at the moment.

"Our ideas often morph independently into something completely different from our original vision."

What was it like starting a label in a new country? 

To be honest we have no real frame of reference, as this is our first label – but we've found Australia to be very supportive of emerging designers, and independent companies as a whole.

How were you received when you first launched?

We started out really small – our first collection was made up of only 10 styles – and when one of our favourite stores in Sydney (Somedays in Surry Hills) sold it we could not have been happier! We've been really fortunate to be stocked in some amazing stores Australia-wide.

What was it about Australia that made you want to stay?

We love the lifestyle here – you can escape the city at the weekend really easily and get the best of both worlds.

Why did you decide to move from Sydney to Melbourne?

We've always liked Melbourne – it's such a vibrant city. Sydney's great, and we had four very happy years living there, but we feel really at home in Melbourne... perhaps it's the weather!

"This time of year makes us feel the most homesick – while it's getting cold in Australia all our friends are at the opening parties in Ibiza!"

How do you find Melbourne's fashion community? 

We like how in Melbourne there's a real variety of style. People are creative and mix and match designer pieces with op-shop treasures, which is how we dress too.

Do you go home to England often?

Not enough! We've been home twice in the last five years. The last time was Christmas just gone, and we had a great time (despite the cold!). As well as catching up with our families and our pals in London we did lots of little trips – Spain, France, Scotland… That's one of the best things about living in the UK – you're so close to Europe. This time of year makes us feel the most homesick – while it's getting cold in Australia all our friends are at the opening parties in Ibiza!

Tell us about your recent projects and what you're working on at the moment.

We are just finishing up autumn/winter 2013 sampling. We're actually in Indonesia right now, and are heading to Hong Kong after. Whilst we're in Hong Kong we'll be sourcing all our new fabrics and we're looking forward to getting stuck into designing spring/summer 2013/14 upon our return to Melbourne.

Plans for the future?

We plan to focus more on categories like footwear and accessories over the next few seasons, and are branching out into international markets like Japan, Europe and the US. We also have a couple of collaborations in the pipeline which we're pretty excited about.

www.handsom.com.au