Who knew that a swimwear label would be one of the highlights of MBFWA?  I'm aware that that comes off sounding all hoity-toity about swimwear but at the same time, it feels like Australian Fashion Week has come so far along, away from simply doing good beach clothes, that to turn around and give props to a swimwear label seems a little odd.  That said, we're talking about We Are Handsome, who has made their lycra bikinis, bodysuits, short-shorts and one-pieces, the primary vehicles for their can't-take-my-eyes-off prints.  Since 2009 Jeremy Somers and Indhra Chagoury have made it their business to take what's good about the devastatingly bright light in Australia and place their highly saturated prints onto well-placed, well-designed, well-made swimwear and bodywear and they're currently on a stockist roll with colette, Net-a-Porter and The Corner all getting a bit of WAH action.  I've experienced that quality, depth of print and expert cutting firsthand in the early days of WAH but I've now come to know a different side to the brand, one that makes WAH admirable, not just for aesthetic reasons but for their thought process too.  

A week before their show, dropped by their Surry Hills studio, from which they'll be moving to a much bigger space, testament to We Are Handsome's growth.  This one-off couch featuring every one of their prints that they've done on their pieces is most definitely coming with them…

IMG_9884

IMG_9863

A nearby armchair prompted the question as to whether they'll be going into homewares.  Jeremy doesn't discount the idea but for now they'll be experimenting with limited run products such as iPhone cases on their online We are Handsome LAB space, where they can try different things out to see where their prints can go beyond their trademark swimwear.  Indhra did say that they weren't keen on expanding too fast, rushing to put photographic prints on everything but the bathroom sink (although the thought does seem inviting) but instead, they want to make We are Handsome known for and singularly focused on swimwear for the time being. 

IMG_9865

IMG_9880

The print design and selection process was the part that intrigued me the most.  Copyrights access to imagery was the first thought that crossed my mind.  Jeremy was a graphic designer and photographer by trade before We are Handsome took off and so he's more than familiar with the ins and outs of image usage.  They mostly buy the images and then once they're altered several degrees through Jeremy's Photoshop skills – be it through the colours or the composition of the image – then it is deemed legal to use the image for commercial purpose.  Sometimes for clients such as Rihanna, where they used an image of Bob Marley for a suit, they may not have the rights to the image but since the suit is like a one-off art piece, solely meant for Rihanna, then they keep themselves in the clear.  It's interesting how in a short period of time, WAH's print vocabulary has become so established that every season, they have to include motifs such as a big cat print, a bird or a floral print as essential WAH components. 

IMG_9864

I also discovered a wholly new side to WAH's work that I didn't know about which was their dedication to producing all their pieces in Australia – in fact, they're made just fifteen minutes away from their studio in Sydney.  This tangible and controllable mode of production is something that should be admired seeing as so many Australian designers have opted for doing production abroad in nearby South East Asia.  It was through sheer accident that Jeremy and Indhra decided to work with pattern cutters, printers and machinists from Sydney as when they first started, they were such a small operation.  Even with the considerable numbers now though, the duo have developed good relationships with their production workers that ultimately makes for a better made swimsuit just simply because they can try out new things, tweak and refine.   

An amendment bill in Australia under the Fair Work Act has just passed, which means that home-based sub-contractors in the textiles, clothing and footwear industry cannot work without adhering to the new guidelines.  Essentially this is a new law to try and prevent exploitations of workers in the textiles industry in Australia but on the flipside, it compromises the garment manufacturing industry in Australia and as a result, affects how Jeremy and Indhra run their business.  It's a complicated issue, which definitely has two compelling sides to the story.  I've read about it for two days and I still don't quite understand the full ins and outs but speaking to people in the industry here in Australia has helped me clarify things a little.  One of the downsides is that it means that businesses like We are Handsome, who deal with businesses that contract work out to home pattern cutters and machinists may be negatively affected.  What I gather is that the amendment bill doesn't account for exceptions where the workers are indeed treated correctly and responsiby and don't seem to take into consideration the number of possible job losses that could occur because of the regulations imposed.  The short of it is that as Australian production and jobs within the textiles, clothing and footwear industry are already dwindling, this amendment bill may be a double-edged sword, which gives further food for thought when looking at the Australian fashion landscape. 

IMG_9866

The fruit of WAH's dedication to being able to work with factories they can easily see in person can be seen in the suits themselves.  For their MBFWA debut, they sort of put together a combo of collections that summed up the spirit of the label – if the sun ain't shining, then it's not worth going out sort of attitude.  Prints from the Matriarch, the Enchanted and the Streets collections were used include a sexy palm tree or two, a kitschy rose and kitten, a sunset-tinted skyline, a faded beach scene and of course a few very big cats – a lion and tiger roared their way in to bookend the show.  Ice lollies, bright gemstone jewellery and two-tone lips were the only accessories required for this lycra trip.  A mesh-sleeved bodysuit, a pair of wide-legged chiffon trousers and a floor length dress were the few exceptions in a collection that largely spoke of WAH's ambition in directional swimwear but of course the tempting thing about the presence of things like a short sleeve, a legging and mesh panelling, is the desire to want to wear them beyond the beach and indeed, that is also WAH's trump card.  Hot days and hot nights may not flourish where I come from but Jeremy and Indhra definitely wants to ensure that everyone can amp up the sunshine somehow. 

IMG_9857

IMG_9859

IMG_9875

IMG_9854

IMG_9873

IMG_0960

IMG_0963

IMG_0967

IMG_0970

IMG_0975

IMG_0972

IMG_0977

IMG_0985

IMG_0982

IMG_0984

IMG_0986

IMG_0988

IMG_0992

IMG_0995

Comments (29)

  1. Mary says:

    the prints are always amazing

  2. Sheena says:

    each piece is significantly speaking for itself… “Im spring and summer this season, Im tropical and fresh”… its supposed to happen… must say great collection… Specially the maxi skirt…
    http://bit.ly/JWLDCz
    Sheena

  3. Miss Coco says:

    Me encantan los estampados! Son realmente inpresionantes!!
    Miss Coco
    http://WWW.JUST-COCO.COM

  4. Isabella says:

    what great prints, I would love to see a tiger print
    Isabella
    http://www.findthose.com

  5. That is some cool swimwear. Love the prints, especially the jellyfish maillot.
    http://styleseer.blogspot.com

  6. Jessica says:

    I don’t like the way this article seems to sort of be taking a side on the Fair Work issue. There shouldn’t be a question here: it’s about PROFITS or ETHICS. This law protects people who are for real not joking seriously doing it tough because they have not been entitled to basic working conditions, minimum pay etc. I support local designers and understand that what they do is not easy, but they are still a long way away from the workers at the bottom of the chain. Workers rights matter like, for real.

  7. I find it so interesting to hear about production challenges in other countries…there are similar issues here in Canada so it’s nice to hear about how other countries are tackling it. It’s a difficult issue and trying to develop a solution that will look out for workers rights while also maintaining local, small scale production is a big challenge and almost impossible to police. Home sewing works for many people since it allows them maximum flexibility, as well as avoiding having to pay rent on a workspace (which in my city is constantly raising due to gentrification of the previously semi-industrial loft style buildings) not to mention the travel time to get to said space. Many sewing machine operators are women and also happen to be the main caregivers of children. Working from home can allow them the flexibility of working as much or as little as fits their schedule, as well as setting their own hours. The issue comes about because home sewers are currently not regulated….better regulation is needed, not a total banning of home sewing operations. I believe strongly in maintaining local, small scale production under ethical work standards….but as usual the fashion industry seems to be leagues behind in terms of progressiveness on this topic…funny how an industry that is so obsessed with “newness” can be so slow to change….

  8. Egoblog says:

    Those prints are great! We have wonderful labels like that here in Brazil. You should come and take a look at them.
    http://egoblog.bitsmag.com.br

  9. susie_bubble says:

    I think Angie Montreal below makes some very valid points. I did LINK to both arguments for and against the amendment. I of course believe in policing working conditions but surely there are exceptions and if this law will be detrimental to people’s livelihoods (ones that AREN’T under sweatshop conditions), then that can’t be a good thing either especially when finding work in the fashion industry is so tough.
    I have been speaking to a few people here in Australia about it and it seems the amendment has been passed quite hastily. Perhaps it needs to be revisited so that there are further caveats? I apologise for appearing partisan but after much reading as well as speaking to people in the industry, I believe it’s still worth debating and reopening.

  10. lucy says:

    Had a wee look at there website quickly and thumbs up for the photo shoot, they looks fresh and fun and off course sun kissed on the coast, I felt very jealous of the climate there since here in scotland today in the early may, cold and rainy all day long. I really liked their puppy print swim suit.

  11. Claire says:

    So loving the presence of these loud holiday prints everywhere right now! Makes me think of sun kissed festivals and hot days sipping cider in the park! So glad that all this colour is being infused in current trends, including lingerie. Marvellous! Long may it continue! Helps me forget the rain :)

  12. Alice says:

    LOVE the prints! I just want to go somewhere sunny!
    Take a look at my fashion illustrations and art:
    http://aliceauxpaysenchantes.blogspot.com/

  13. I love all the garments, but the sofa and the office chair……….I want them for my home!

  14. Suzi says:

    WOW! These are amazing! If only it were Summer here in good old Melbourne.
    Suzi x
    http://fortheloveofaudrey.com

  15. I am a huge fan of We Are Handsome, the lion one-piece swimsuit is to die for – I would love it for lounging by the pool as bikini’s just aren’t for me.
    Gems x
    London Fashion Review Blog

  16. OMG Amazing Collection…i think big figures is super crazy for use in Spring and Summer.
    XOXO from MUNICH
    La Vie Quotidienne
    http://www.laviequo.com

  17. Emmita xx says:

    I am in love with that yellow necklace, absolutely stunning! Where can i find one?? P.S Susie i love your blogs x

  18. D.S.Graceful says:

    I love this blog . I am into colour and with the UK weather being so dull at the moment it is a joy to come on here. Every time my heart skips a beat :-) DSG

  19. D’you, one of the best things about this post is that the models are smiling! It suits the swimwear so well, it just adds that little bit extra!

  20. Louise says:

    Emmita the necklace is from Mezi’s SS12 collection, stunning isn’t it! Totes want one!

  21. hefashion says:

    what great prints, I would love to see a hellokitty print

  22. I love all of the looks! They are so beautiful!

  23. Thank you so much for this! I saw this dress on the show and fell in love with it!

  24. CamMi Pham says:

    Very interesting prints. I LOVE the chair
    The yellow necklace is stunning

  25. The Dreamery says:

    Hi Emmita xx – the necklace is a collaboration between We are Handsome and Mezi, one of Australia’s hottest accessories designers. The Dreamery (www.the-dreamery.com) will be stocking this style from August and if you want further details, email info@the-dreamery.com. xx

  26. ashleigh says:

    Loving the prints! I found there is still some left at eclectori.com and they ship international YAY.

Comment below