Meet the Designer: Amxander
1. Describe your brand in one sentence.
An Australian contemporary brand that focuses on re-working, re-thinking and re-defining social uniforms, translating them into a contemporary vocabulary.
2. What inspires your designs?
Jason: Everyday life, travels and people watching.
Rong Jake: Contemporary art, books, theatre, & the mundane.
3. What type of man is an AMXANDER customer?
He (or she) is a modern polymath, a modern thrill seeker, values experiences and knows who they want to be.
4. How long have you been designing and what inspired you to get started?
Jason: I’ve been designing since secondary school – I only learnt how to sew and realise my ideas when I got into fashion school at RMIT. I have always been into art; painting, sketching, photography, all of that – fashion design was one of those paths that could help me realise my ideas from paper to reality.
Rong Jake: Creativity wasn’t always nurtured in my household, but having opportunities in high school or in my spare time, I’ve always found myself drawing or taking photos. Fashion, for me, growing up, played a large role in helping me define or express who I was, particularly out of the scope of who my family wanted me to be – which was to follow a more traditional business focused career path. But slowly, I found opportunities within the industry, kept learning from my peers, from books and drew confidence in creating an idea of who I wanted to dress, and how we would do it.
5. What was the first ever item of clothing you designed – and do you still have it?
Jason: It was an oversized shirt collaged out of recycled fabric – it was a project when I was in college and unfortunately I do not have it with me anymore.
RJ: I was working for another brand, and it was actually a collaboration for a UNIQLO collaboration. So I guess the first garment I designed was a graphic t-shirt for UNIQLO! [Amazing!!! - Ed]
6. Any advice for someone just getting started in fashion design?
J: Always be open to all forms of advice and criticism.
RJ: Be conscious of who you are designing for, their moods, their wants, and their evolutions.
7. How has being nominated for the Woolmark Prize, two years running, changed your career?
Both: It makes us refine and rethink what we do as a brand. It’s helped us develop a sense of community with our fellow nominees, and the Woolmark company has been very supportive of our endeavors outside of the competition. It was really rewarding.
8. There is a lot of symbolism in your clothing. Will this be a long-running theme and why is it important to you? What inspires that?
RJ: Looking into symbolism, understanding the link between the signified and signifier, has always been core to us, parallel to our exploration of uniforms. The graphics in our collections emphasize our collection story, and that’s why we think it’s integral – it’s also something we can also be really coy with, with injections of motifs that are only privy to the two of us.
9. Is Australia supportive of fashion designers?
J: Yes, to a degree, there are some great programs, institutions and government support – but our market is small, and sometimes that means the super brands or the mass brands take a lead.
10. What kind of designers did you intern with, and why did you choose them?
J: I interned with Mary Katrantzou, London before we decided to start our own label. I have always been interested in graphics and print design on clothing and I thought why not learn it from the queen herself.
RJ: I’ve worked with, and consulted numerous younger labels, and high street labels in the past – it was more of a natural progression of experience for myself.
11. Who inspires you, both from fashion and other spheres?
J: My closest friends and family are my biggest support and inspiration. Like I said, I love to people watch, and this also fuels my inspirations.
RJ: There are definitely purveyors of creative arts that fuel creativity. Anyone that holds their ground, and expresses themselves outside the norm is always highly respected by me – whether they be friends, celebrities or someone I’ve seen on the gram. In other spheres, I always enjoy Tim Ferris, and his insane discipline in life.
12. Who are your fashion idols and why?
RJ: Maybe Raf – he’s amazing at story telling, and keeping a story no matter where he’s placed. In a similar vein, I respect Dries for that same reason.
J: Ricardo Tisci – as the previous creative director of Givenchy, he really inspired me to get into the menswear field.
13. What are your main goals for your fashion label?
Both: To create a community around the brand – wanting people to connect over our label.
14. What has been the best part of your fashion journey so far?
J: Being able to share this journey with two of my closest friends – Jake and Edmond. The brand would not be where it is today without them.
RJ: heart emoji… definitely. There is a strong bond over fashion, and it’s been amazing to share it with such a great team, and to create memories with others in the industry around the world.