Oxë - Bold Statements In Style
This month BYO sat down for a chat with two of the lovely lads from Brisbane based men’s label Oxë. Over the noise of the Sunday morning rush at Corner Store Café, we talked t-shirts, tall poppy syndrome, and the seven deadly sins.
Oxë (pronounced ox-ee) is a Brisbane based casualwear label run by four local boys; the founding fathers Jeremy Griffin & Joel Meacock, financial head honcho Nick Vučak, and creative extraordinaire Jack Hamilton. Although Jack was in Sydney and Joel was modeling in New York, we managed to lock down Nick and Jeremy for a few quick questions.
BYO: What inspired you to start the Oxë brand?
J: Joel and I essentially started Oxë purely because we wanted to wear some interesting clothes. We were largely unsatisfied with the Brisbane market in terms of what we could buy and the prices that were set. We started because we wanted clothes for ourselves and we thought it would be a bit of fun, but now it’s progressed into something more serious.
BYO: If you had to describe the Oxë style in a few words what would they be?
N: Minimal, sharp, edgy and dark.
J: We kind of have a mantra, “Minimalistic prints, animalistic thoughts”. The word animalistic for us means a dark humanistic desire, kind of like a primal urge, and we try to represent that in a very minimalistic way. With this line that we’re going release, it’s almost a critique on certain values in our society. That’s part of what we wanted to do, we wanted to create something that was a bit different.
N: It’s not just a shirt, there’s a thought process behind it.
J: There are ideas, a philosophical underpinning really. That’s extensive for a T-shirt but it’s part of what we wanted to say.
BYO: So you said you designed for yourselves. Did you see a need for something like the Oxë brand in the market?
N: You can look around and I don’t think there’s really anyone selling to our exact niche.
J: In fashion at the moment, there is sort of a minimalistic theme, but like Yves Saint Laurent said, “fashions fade, style is eternal”. What we’re trying to do is not to create a fashionable brand, but a brand of style. We’re trying to tap into a different ethos in terms of fashion. Something that we think is stylish that can live throughout fashion. If that as a goal is too unrealistic, we don’t care, that’s what we’re going to try to do anyway.
BYO: What is your vision for Oxë, where do you see the label going in the future?
N: We’ve already got people buying overseas from our online store, and we’ve got retailers interstate in Western Australia and Victoria.
J: We’ve also got a few loyal customers in smaller cities like Townsville.
N: Also in terms of going overseas, Joel is already over in New York so he’s over there representing the brand, laying a bit of the ground work, selling the clothes.
J: Joel has a lot of contacts and is doing a lot of gigs – a lot of his friends who are male models are wearing Oxë, so that’s been really great for us.
BYO: All four of you have your own area of expertise that you bring to the business. Do you ever clash with so many different voices in the group?
N: Yeah all the time, especially with personalities like Jeremy’s (laughs)
J: We each have really strong ideas.
N: But we’ve each got a really good understanding of what Oxë is meant to be, and even though our ideas do clash, they clash for a good reason. The whole clashing of ideas is how Oxë came into being.
J: Its definitely part of our process to have disagreements. Our name Oxë comes originally from the word “oxymoron”, because Joel and I have different ideas of style and we wanted to create something that was part him, part me, and kind of contradictory. I’m not sure if we’ve achieved that but it’s sort of our guide, we work in tandem but also in opposites sometimes.
N: So there are definitely conflicts.
J: But the thing is I’m always right…(laughs)
BYO: Can you give us a hint of what to expect from your new line?
J: Each design is based on one of the seven sins. So we’re looking at bringing out 7-8 designs, one for each sin and then one that sort of ties them all together. It’s a very existential idea, the idea that ‘villains’ or ‘sin’ is purely a construct. We don’t believe that idea of ‘gluttony’ or ‘envy’ for example is necessarily bad. We believe that humans are free to create their own meaning in life and free to create their own value system. We drew a lot on the work of Jean Paul Satre, and there’s a lot of symbolism in our designs to try to represent that each sin doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. We’re questioning why we think it’s bad, we want to raise questions like that, purely in a symbolic form, but that’s the whole idea behind it.
BYO: Who is your ideal customer and why?
N: Someone who knows what they’re buying.
J: People who are style conscious and take pride in their appearance. At the same time it’s hard for us to say we have an ideal customer, we’re happy for anyone to buy our stuff. You could wear jeans and joggers for all we care…well, we might care a little bit.
BYO: How have you found the customer response so far?
J: It’s been really good. One of our main principles is having shirts that are of a really good quality, so we use 100% cotton in all our t-shirts and we want to make sure all of our shirts are of a high standard. We’ve got a lot of feedback about how good the quality of our t-shirts actually is, so that’s one of the most positive things we can hear.
N: Also generally just about the minimalism of the designs, people really like that. There’s been a really good response and we’ve been reasonably successful, but most of our profits have gone back in to grow the business.
J: We’ve had a lot of fun and that’s one of the main reasons we started, but we’ve also learnt a lot and gained a lot of experience from it as well.
BYO: As Brisbane locals, what’s your perspective on the Brisbane menswear scene?
J: In Brisbane and Australia, we suffer from this mindset of tall poppy syndrome, and I think that’s one of the most upsetting things about Australian culture. This idea that if people excel or succeed at something, they should be brought down. The same idea is applicable to style and the way people dress. As humans we all want to have our own identity and that’s one of the main reasons we wear clothes, to show our identity. I think Brisbane is quite a fertile place for fashion. There are a lot of new fashion labels coming out of Brisbane and there’s a big scene for emerging brands. I think we’re all too quick to sell Brisbane short and I have great faith in our generation to change the cultural perceptions about tall poppy syndrome.
N:I agree, it takes such a confident person to go out and wear something that’s a bit out of the norm or a bit different.
J: For example in other places like Italy or other European countries, when it comes to style, you are encouraged, you want to stand out, you want to be different. I want to live in a culture like that. I want to live in a society where difference is accepted and encouraged. I hope Brisbane is moving towards that. I have faith that we’ll get there.
BYO: Where can we buy Oxë?
N: At the moment you can buy our stuff online through our website www.oxeclothing.com but keep an eye out for us in stores in Brisbane.
For more Oxë checkout
Twitter: twitter.com/oxeclothing or @oxeclothing
- Bridget Taylor