Recently there has been a rise of genderless fashion and here in Australia one particular emerging Australian designer is challenging and celebrating gender fluidity, we set down with 21-year-old Sydney-sider, Tala Surace, who is the designer behind the label TalaMade to find out what makes her tick and what inspires TalaMade.
- Why is having a fashion label that’s considered ‘genderless’ so important to you?
I interpret genderless fashion, as a whole, to be a broader, creative platform or concept for all to express creative diversity at all lengths; removing both the gender preconceptions and general expectations as to what is acceptable and what is not. In saying this, genderless fashion opposes the idea of placing a garment in a specific category that possesses key characteristics. For example, bust darts in women’s wear and no bust darts in men’s. Often individuals explore androgynous fashion to be more lenient and submissive to masculine characteristics, rather than exploring the term ‘androgyny’ to be a broader point of reference to both masculine and feminine qualities as a whole.
The significance of genderless fashion for both myself and the TalaMade brand began for me at a very young age where I found I really wanted to experiment with my own sense of style that was and is quite overall alternative – lots of hardware, tactical pockets, super oversized silhouettes and literally only wearing the colour black. Being quite petite, I love when garments take a super oversized form because it’s as if they almost have a mind of their own. I often wear a bigger-sized piece and either synched it in certain areas or leave it baggy in others, rather than adhering to its original silhouette or intent. What this has eventuated or morphed into is my love for menswear and androgyny collectively. I discovered I could make garments ‘fit’ my own shape if I wanted them to or I could simply leave them as is to create an incongruence that would make an onlooker really question what they were looking at.
Therefore, creating a ‘genderless’ approach to TalaMade clothing was imperative in my message of encouragement of creativity for all, and at all lengths, to truly come across. Personally, I find logic and value in the idea that if you can alter or use an item of clothing in a way that suits your own purpose or motive then it is the right ‘fit’ or style for you. I see it as you fulfilling a purpose that is central to yourself. That, in itself, is the idea behind TalaMade – uniformed clothing for all that essentially acts as a blank canvas for the individual to tailor their clothing to suit their individual needs and desires.
- You’ve just finished your first runway show at Melbourne Fashion Week last month, how does it feel to have made that debut?
It still feels quite surreal! I’ve literally dreamed of showing my clothes on a runway where I was both among and a part of a concept that brought like-minded creatives together in the same room. It was truly a life moment to remember and I cannot express how grateful I am to the Melbourne Fashion Week team for approaching me with such an amazing opportunity. However, being my first-ever runway, it certainly came with its challenges, whether it was having the ability to physically lug three suitcases worth of clothes to the airport; constant reworking looks between myself and the show’s stylist (thank you for being so patient with me, Joseph Romano @joee_babes!); or the constant internalised dialogue where I was asking myself if I truly felt worthy and good enough to show at such a widespread event.
I think the self doubt, in particular, was the hardest part for me going into Melbourne Fashion Week, purely because I was (and am) the ‘new kid on the block.’ There were other designers and brands that had not only shown before at Melbourne Fashion Week, but have several years of commercial and runway experience and success up their sleeves. However, when I found out we were opening the show it really sunk in that I was there for a reason, and that was to utilise my garments as a tool to encourage and inform individuals to move beyond social and gender expectations. I believe that creativity as a whole should be accepted rather than be stifled by preconceived ideas that do not evolve or encourage diversity. It is through creative means that individuals can pave the way for positive future ideologies that are both informed and therefore accepting of all breadths of concepts and ideas.
- What has the response been since Melbourne Fashion Week?
The response to Melbourne Fashion Week has been extremely positive! We’ve received quite a lot of positive feedback from the first collection, a capsule collection titled, 100.K ZONE, which is unbelievable! The most popular garments have been the Vegan Leather Chest Rig, Reworked Tuxedo Dress, Bodystocking and Clinical Shirt – undoubtedly some of the more outspoken pieces of the collection, yet are also the most versatile and adaptable pieces.
I was definitely nervous to showcase the collection as a whole on the runway. I was essentially showing people the inner-workings of my mind and where my individual perspective of creativity stems from; something I have always struggled with especially during high school were finding yourself can be quite a difficult pill to swallow when your interests lay outside of the social norm. But, it was quite surprising to see both consumers (runway attendees) and collaborators (stylists) gravitate towards TalaMade as something that is “different” and more on the “outrageous” side, yet can be easily tailored to suit any individual’s style. I loved seeing the socials snaps from the show and different people wearing my garments to suit their own wardrobe and eclecticism.
- What’s next for TalaMade? What are you currently working on?
I’m currently preparing for the launch of TalaMade’s second collection, || 100.K ZONE: UNLIMITED ||, which we cheekily previewed during our debut at Melbourne Fashion Week. The collection is a follow on from our first one, 100.K ZONE, that was conceptually centred around the three authoritative figures of the zone: The Anarchist – fuelled by pure hatred leading their world into chaos; The Subduer – a victim of societies mistreatment obtaining a peaceful and tiresome tone; and The Saint – the voice of reasoning and the final decision-maker between the personas. In order for a society to function, authoritative figures combined with a natural hierarchy must be prominent for a ‘following’ to be formed by its adherents. It is these presented personalities that advise the mass within a deconstructed yet multifaceted world; prompting the audience to question the intent of the revealed totalitarianism and reflecting construed ideologies of freedom.
Whereas, the UNLIMITED collection explores the collective survivalist tone of the ‘followers’ within the zone, exploring the lifestyle of creatives within a landscape of combined chaos (driven by manipulative rule) and uniformity through creative means. As for what the collection looks like, the pieces in UNLIMITED are certainly more relaxed and leaning more towards a casual streetwear vibe. I’ve taken a few more risks in terms of functionality and wear this time around with the pieces offering a lot more versatility and interchangeability. It is definitely very far from the super clean cut aesthetic of the 100.K ZONE collection. Keep your eyes peeled across our socials for a drop date and some sneak peeks from our upcoming campaign shoot.
- Name one thing all Aussie men should incorporate into their spring/summer wardrobes?
A relaxed pair of jersey or technical fabric shorts are a must! Everyone knows that the Australian summer can be quite outrageous and too hot to handle, and a pair of loose, super relaxed shorts are easy to wear no matter the occasion – with thongs for a casual Aussie summer vibe or dressed up with a super dope pair of sneakers and a loose button up for a night out. But, that isn’t to say that women don’t also need at least one pair of men’s shorts! There is definitely something really effortless and sexy about a woman in a longline casual short and heels.
Words by Arrnott Olssen