talking trash with diy label garbagetv
i-D meets the promising new voice in Australian fashion and learns how a wrecked Parisian AirBnB landed the label in VFiles' showroom.
GARBAGEtv is a club night come clothing label from Perth managed by two friends, Kiel Rogers and Rhys Scott. Kiel is a well-travelled artist; he handles the clothes. Rhys is an animator, and the more business minded of the pair — he stops Kiel from giving away too many freebies. He also does the label's 3D renders, like that little muscle man who walks all over their website, an oiled up version of that Microsoft Office paperclip. It's a young project, but impressive in its maturity: they know what they aren't about, they know what they are about.
The clothes are abstract takes on streetwear staples; simple stuff like tees, shorts, and bombers blown out to bizarre proportions. They'll take very mundane detail, say a tag, and staple it all over a garment until it becomes remarkable again. The clothes are fun, and sometimes even quite funny, but there's a toughness to it all. References to bodybuilding and martial arts are everywhere, in prints and silhouettes. Kai Greene, a bodybuilder famous for popping and locking in his routines, is in their latest stuff. The aesthetic of the parties is similar: brutal, hard music. GARBAGEtv has a fighting spirit.
We met Kiel when he was in town for a GARBAGEtv party at Melbourne's XOXO, and a presentation at VAMFF. He was a little stressed: Nike had sponsored the show, but the shoes his models were supposed to wear the very next day still hadn't arrived. It ended up going great — sweet relief amongst a long week of shows.
Before we talk about Garbage, let's talk about your career to date, you started with fine art, right?
I studied fine art in Perth, which kinda led me to fashion. I remember for one project I made a sweater — and this was all pre-Google images, so you had to go into the library to source references — anyway, I didn't reference fashion so I made this horrible sweater, but my friend who was a painter gave me $60 for it. I thought, okay, I can make $60 off a sweater. Also, I think studying somewhere isolated really pushes you to do bigger and better things. In cities like Melbourne, New York, Japan or Antwerp there are these big communities at art schools, whereas in Perth it's really what you make it. We don't look really over east for inspiration; like Sydney looks to Melbourne, and Melbourne looks to Sydney, and Queensland looks south. In Perth we look more to like, London. When I graduated, I thought, "I have to go to Antwerp, I have to go the Belgium," that was my goal in the whole three years I studied.
And did you?
Yeah, I applied for an internship with Walter Van Beirendonck in Antwerp and I got it, which was crazy. It's actually really rad, I'm proud of it. I'm not just proud of getting it, but of lasting it out. I can't even remember how long it was — maybe a year? It was a really long time ago. Anyway, eventually my visas were running out, and a friend I'd made in Antwerp was working out at Jeremy Scott in LA, so I called her and she put me on to Jeremy. I honestly just said "Hey, can I come over?" and Jeremey was like: "Yeah, when?" I said "Now." So I flew to LA. This was very early Jeremy, when he first put those wings on Adidas shoes. After that, I came out to Perth and did a small capsule collection, I don't really know why, and then I flew to London where I worked for COMME des GARÇONS. I ran and managed CDG Black Label, and again, left the UK when my visa ran out. I flew to Bali for a little bit and freelanced for a few places, then came back to Australia, where P.A.M got in contact with me.
That's a lot of information. You've lived a life.
Yeah, it's been really good. I've loved everyone I have worked with and for. I can't complain about any of them. I worked with P.A.M for three or four years and I did a lot with them, bits of everything. I took it to Paris every season, we did pop ups in Australia, and we went to New York and Japan and threw parties, so I was kind of like the manager of P.A.M. I moved back to Perth a year and a half ago, but they have an ongoing thing called their 'Pamily' and I'm part of that forever. They carry Garbage at their store, which is incredible because they don't have to, even though there is the family stuff, they don't have to do that.
What compelled you to go back to Perth?
I moved back to start Garbage. A friend of mine, Rhys Scott, decided to join me in doing it all, and he lives in Perth. If I could do it from Melbourne I would, but it's just easier being back home, until it comes together — whenever that might be. Fashion is such a hustle and art is a hustle unless you're born into money. Not to get really deep into things, but I'm from a single parent neighbourhood, and you know, my mum had to hustle to bring up two kids herself. I'm yet to have reliable fuel money. At the moment I just kind of live off the parties, but I definitely don't do them for money, I really love it. When everyone is having fun, everyone's just losing their shit, I love it.
Sure. And parties are great way to do that, because whatever you make, you get to share with your favourite artists. What's the secret to a great party?
Music. Definitely just focus on the music. With ours, I wanted to do something with harder music than disco. I like disco, but I wanted something more industrial. My business partner Rhys is really into hip hop and metal. I grew up with hardcore, then got more into house and techno — like everybody seems to do. I just really like punk, and techno is kind of like punk too I guess.
Ha, yeah, I would agree. Let's talk about the season in store now.
Every season has a strong concept, the season that's in store now really revolved around shamanism and sacrifices. A lot of shamanists, especially in China, cut the throats of horses and then throw their bones into the fire. A lot of the prints come from that ritual: the polkadots are like sparks coming out of a fire. The metal writing is dark, like death.
The season our show at VAMFF is all about being slow and steady. I was thinking about what my friends do, how my friends party. In Australia we sometimes think like, "We get one night, let's hammer it out, party till five, fall asleep by lunchtime." But my best friend, he lives in Germany, he goes to Berghian constantly, parties in a different way, for longer. The idea is like, slow and steady wins the race: take your time.
Do you think about the accessibility of the brand?
I mean, even though it's like perceived as a higher end label, I like the idea that my friends that do graffiti or are in bands could wear a GARBAGEtv t-shirt then and look over the road and see someone else's outfit and be like, "that person looks crazy." But actually, that person is wearing GARBAGE too. I like the idea of these very different people wearing the same label, being part of the same thing.
Let's talk about stockists.
LN-CC in London just started taking us on, and Lessons in Perth have been super supportive. They sold 148 pieces in one week. In New York we're with VFiles, and that all happened because of a girl called Danielle [Greco, VFiles host and buyer]. When we did our first ever Garbage show in Paris, I emailed a few people about it, including VFiles. We did the show in an Airbnb and got the worst rating. We ripped off the guy's paintings off the walls and hung rope up, like a maze, really DIY. You could barely get in. Some people got it and some didn't. Danielle came to the middle of nowhere to find us, then VFiles asked us to show in their third floor showroom. They really support us, really help us grow. Now we show in Paris every season with them.
What's most difficult part of the job for you? The team is small, there's a lot on your shoulders.
I stress a lot. I've cared about everywhere I've worked, everywhere I've worked is very important to me. I didn't just work there because it was a job, I worked there because I lived for it, and I still do live for those people and their companies. Now I stress a little but more because it is my own label. It's gruelling, but I can't do anything else though, I need to do it. Like, I'm not good at anything else.
Text Isabelle Hellyer
Photography Rohan Stanley