is “auscore” the next big thing?

Dust off your flanny and tip your Akubra...the authentic Australian fashion staples are where it's at.

by Wendy Syfret
30 July 2015, 3:25am

Romance Was Born's Cooee Couture Show for MBFW 2015

Australians have had a tendency to feel uncomfortable in their own national skin. Our grandparents kept their eyes firmly on the motherland, and let the UK and their customs dictate their own cultural appetite. Our parents dreamed of being cat-eyed and bouffanted New York socialites, while our older siblings just wanted to smirk like a cool French girl or rave like a Berlin boy.

But in recent years, we seem increasingly happy to take inspiration from our own landscape. Young designers are looking to childhood favourites and national classics to source inspiration. And in our own lives, we're finding ourselves reconsidering styles we thought we'd left behind with our primary school legionnaire hats. Whether it's our favourite labels reimagining Australian classics, or simply a matter of helping ourselves to the darkest corners of our dad's wardrobes, our attention has firmly been turned to the homeland.

At i-D we celebrate this rather stylish take on patriotism, and christen it Auscore. For anyone just catching up, let us walk you through the basics.

Desert Designs MBFW 2014

Desert Designs
This brand's multi generational commitment to the artwork of indigenous Jimmy Pike means they may actually qualify as the first Auscore fashion brand. For thirty years Desert Designs' creations have celebrated Pike by featuring his work in all their textiles, but they've also folded Australia's burnished landscape colours in their palet.

Their presence, values, and brand image are firmly entwined with the bush and coastline. Label directors Jedda-Daisy Culley and Caroline Sundt-Wels are also big fans (and sometimes collaborators) of fellow best friends and artists Prue Stent and Honey Long's project Bush Babies. The ongoing photo series explores the surreal nature of the Australian flora, a topic that's held the label's attention for decades.

Dion Lee for R.M. Williams

R.M. Williams
The R.M. Williams brand was established in 1932, and you'll forgive us for feeling like it was usurped by heartbreaker boys who play guitar minutes later. While the outback favourite has been always been popular with a variety of differently styled men, it was more recently picked up as a stylist go-to.

A beat up pair of beautifully made, understated boots that make everything look tough but tender is what most of us wake up thinking about. But in 2013 the brand cemented its fashionable appeal when LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton bought 49.9 per cent of it for an easy $50 million.

If they still remind you too much of your dad, don't forget Dion Lee enlisted the brand to create the footwear for their 2014 New York Fashion Week show. Also, maybe dads are the coolest?

A patent take on the original Clarke

For a long time, Clarks seemed delegated to the realm of primary school memories with Tazos and Dunkaroos. Obviously we're not referring to the unstoppable force that is the Desert Boot, but rather it's unco kid siblings, Monmart Walk. The most sensible of sensible shoes, when you were forced to wear them, instead of your prefered Adidas shell toes, it felt like nothing would ever be less cool.

Now maybe it's Prada's commitment to reacquainting us with a chunky sole through their Teddy Brogues, or the endless popularity of Dr Martin 1461 Classics that brought on a change of heart—but we've warmed to our old foes. Suddenly this clunky loafer is the perfect companion to our Carol Jerrems sharpie dreams. If Docs speak to England's gritty sense of cool, and Prada's Teddy's embody Italy's ability to make you rethink any style, then Clarks' charming twist of dorky couldn't be more Australian.

The classic Drizabone

This one we're calling early, as to be honest, it hasn't really permeated through Australian fashion yet—but trust us—it will. It's not a stretch to cast the humble Drizabone as Australia's answer to a Burberry trench. You know, if you had to hire a Burberry trench for every school camp and they smelt intensely of camphor and moth balls. If R.M. Williams can make the move from farmers to the front row, we really believe Drizabone can follow in their water resistant footsteps.

Like the boots, the jackets have a study, classic look that make boys look like men, and girls suddenly appear as headstrong adventurers. Even if you are just wearing it to duck out and buy a $8 carton on chia milk. Team it with a thick knit, and wear it in your fantasies when you finally leave the city for the weekend and go somewhere that doesn't have Twitter access.

Backstage at the Romance Was Born Bush Magic show for VAMFF 2015

Romance Was Born x Your Whole Childhood
No one seems to understand or lead this wave as impressively as Romance Was Born. Through their relationship with Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson, Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales have always warmly embraced the Australian landscape as an aesthetic influence. But in the past 12 months the Sydney based label have gleaned inspiration from a few iconic, but very different, national symbols.

Their wildly popular Bush Magic collection was an unabashed love letter to May Gibbs, the creator of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and the Bankia Men—and in turn every Australian child's dreams and nightmares. Pieces in the collection featured the characters themselves, but also paid tribute to the flora that inspired them. Wattles, gum leaves, and bush colours peppered the designs and carried through to their Cooee Couture collection at April's Australian Fashion Week show at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Just in case the floral motifs weren't getting the message across, they included a Ned Kelly inspired outfit too.

The Romance Was Born x Akubra collaboration at MBFW 2015

The Akubra
Obviously feeling at home with national nostalgia, Romance Was Born followed the aforementioned ranges with a collaboration with Akubra. The iconic hat had already been loitering at the fashion fringe, and was a feature of several model's off-the-clock-style. And served as an unlikely, but perfectly places alternative to the cheesiness of a cowboy hat, or the corniness of a fedora. Easily the most out of place hat you could ever imaging in an urban setting, for some reason a battered Jackaroo staple looks very at home with a $300 haircut.

Although if that still feels a bit Man from Snowy River, just refer back to Romance. When Anna, Luke, and Linda Jackson teamed up with Strand Hatter to reimagine the hat through a range of designs they erased any lingering doubts.

Desert Pas Sweater from A New Beginning

Jenny Kee's Whole Existence 

When Jenny Kee celebrated all things Australian in the 80s, it was a decidedly uncool concept. But her colourful designs inspired by nature, opals, and Australian pop culture showed you can elevate the familiar into something really special.

Thirty years later she's still at it. Her latest knitwear capsule collection "A New Beginning" is a collaboration with The Woolmark Company, and it overflows with chunky knits that should feel like something your weird Aunty Marge would pick up from a car boot sale. But somehow, in Jenny's hands, they're bombastic explosions of colour, humour, and local charm. 


Text Wendy Syfret

Romance Was Born
desert designs