Words by Brett Bevege Photography by Dominique Elliot
Australian style is hard to pin down and even harder to put into words. Usually when people try, descriptors like 'easy' and 'wearable' roll off the tongue, which is by no means a bad thing for a country that usually self describes as being ultra laid back. However, for a place not exactly known for it's cutting edge design, Australia does have it's fair share of under the radar labels that are slowly burning away. Some are happy to cater to the local market, which is a much simpler option given the gargantuan task of designing and manufacturing collections for two hemispheres simultaneously. Others, such as the Sydney based Vanishing Elephant, are up for the challenge. Started in 2008 by Arran Russell, Huw Bennett and Felix Chan, the label strives to deliver clean, modern and thoughtfully designed collections to Australian men and women. Aesthetically, the brand is youthful yet sophisticated with a balanced combination of quirky prints and sensible knitwear, shirting, chinos and t-shirt options for the guys. For the ladies, classic styles influenced by the men's range make up the staples with reinvented moto-jackets and footwear in outre prints filling in the gaps. Vanishing Elephant also caters to accessory lovers with a healthy selection of in-house socks, ranging from tie-dyed to not so basic stripes. In a nutshell, the brand delivers on trend pieces with precise restraint.
Since it's inception in 2008, the company has gone from strength to strength and now rub shoulders with prestigious contemporary brands in boutiques and online shopping destinations around the world. Their most recent accomplishment being the opening of the brand's first retail outpost in Melbourne's QV Mall. We spoke to store manager Jack Tosi recently to get some insight into his own personal style and learn a little bit more about the brand vision.
Name and role in the company:
I'm Jack Tosi, and I am the Store Manager at Vanishing Elephant, Melbourne.
How long have you been working here:
I have been at Vanishing Elephant for almost 18 months now.
When did this store open?
We opened in October, 2011.
There's just this one at the moment, but we're always looking at locations for another. We'd love to open one in Sydney before winter.
Tell me about Vanishing Elephant as a brand. What is the aesthetic, who is the customer, where do you sit amongst other labels and stores:
The working idea is keep it simple - classic with a couple of complications. Our client is quite a wide audience, from young guys chasing printed shirts to a middle aged woman wanting a silk button up. Locally we are mid market, we sit in a nice gap between street/surf and local Australian designers.
An ongoing feeling of evolution and a debate over combining what they love with what is practical. There was an urge to create a collection of concise individual pieces that stand alone but also work into an overall collection, anchored by colour, detail and silhouette.
What do you do outside of work:
I'm a musician. At the moment I'm playing in a punk band who pretty much play house parties and warehouses exclusively, hah! Lately I've been messing around with samplers and programmers for a bit of fun in my spare time.
What are your favorite Melbourne haunts:
We usually go to Rooftop Bar in the city for after work drinks. It's pretty good because it's just down the road. It has a nice view of the city and they show movies every night during summer. Plus, most of the bar staff shop here so they always look after us. Then there's Bar Americano, also in the city. It's one of those places in an alley down another alley, but there's always a nice atmosphere inside. It's great if you feel like a stiff drink and the bartenders will always educate you if you're interested in learning about fine liquors!
And finally, what is your insider tip for the city:
Don't believe anything you read in a food blog or magazine. The best Vietnamese Roll in Melbourne is found at N.Lee Bakery on Smith St!!