Rising of The Fall
By Maria Maung
From humble beginnings and sheer determination, great things develop. A man who knows this better than anyone, is Designer Kieran Smith of Queensland menswear label The Fall. His do or die attitude and passion for surf/ street culture is the perfect fuel for this fire, which shows no signs of slowing down.
How did the brand begin and what is it all about?
My good mate used to have a dodgy little screen printing setup in his garage. We used to go around there and print these punk t-shirts with our favorite bands and lyrics on them. Eventually he started his own label called Jamie Fame and I thought that was rad. He knew I was super interested in it so we endeavored to start a second business together. The workload for him was too much so he bailed to focus on his own label and I kept it going on my own.
We’re Coast Kids through and through, and I feel every range we deliver reflects that. We aim to produce casual, yet fashionable cut and sew garments with a bit of edge. As far as the brand itself, there is a huge emphasis on modern surf culture, as well as music and art.
How big is your team?
Pretty darn small. I take care of production on my own, outsourcing art and graphic design from various local artists. I employ someone full time who handles everything regarding photography, videography and design. She manages all our campaign shoots, look books and everything in between. Sales used to be another role I managed myself, however the workload has become too much. We have a few sales reps now and I hope to hand over that department completely by next season.
Describe the Queensland fashion scene?
The way people are with technology and social media I find that trends aren’t really dictated on a local level. Within the realm of surf/streetwear at least, there doesn’t seem to be much deviation in style between most of Australia. Fashion-wise you can find the exact same type of guys hanging out in Bondi as what you will find in Noosa. One thing about Queensland though, is that we don’t get much of a winter, so the cold months are always welcome. Generally after 9 months of board shorts and singlet’s people are pretty excited to change wardrobe.
Tell us a bit about your design process?
“The Fall’ has always been about making clothes that I am psyched to wear myself. This sounds kind of selfish, though sticking to that ethos when designing always gets the best result. If I ever find myself trying something out because it’s trending or popular, and not because I love it, I end up with a shitty product that doesn’t sell and feels lost in the range.
In the beginning we worked really hard on our blocks and original patterns. I’m absolutely pedantic about the fit of our garments. It doesn’t matter what your product looks like, if you don’t have the fit right people won’t come back. However now that we have most of our fits right, there isn’t that much time spent on the patterns. We make slight adjustments to our blocks each season. Sometimes we add in features, and change fabrics based on season, though for the most part our design process is focused mainly on prints.
Where do you see the brand expanding?
We have had a few really exciting developments recently, though I don’t think I should jinx myself by talking about them just yet. For the most part we’re just focusing on expanding our domestic sales, and introducing a wider variety of products. Personally my goals are to keep expanding our stockist list and getting the attention of some of the major players.
What inspires you?
In regards to design I draw inspiration from all over the place, sometimes the most random of things give me an idea for a t-shirt design. I find that I have a real affinity with words, and often use lyrics, poems, or dialogue from a movie as a starting point for a design. But often times it’s simpler than that. There are so many people out there doing rad things that appeal to me, it’s hard not to find inspiration. I also love hearing about young people doing well in business. Nothing makes me hungrier to succeed than seeing other people where I want to be.
Describe your world?
Hectic. I’m 29 years old. I have 3 kids, 3 jobs and a crazy woman who as of last week is now my wife. I run my own business and work for a company managing accounts and ordering stock for a chain of retail stores. I also hold a part time position as a fire fighter which means I’m on call 24 hours a day; if my pager goes off I’m out the door and off to a job.
When you aren’t designing what are you doing?
Despite the busy schedule I manage to get a fair bit of time to myself. Surfing is always the priority, if there are waves I’m at the beach, for sure. Living on the Sunshine Coast though it’s often flat, so I try to keep fit doing a bit of kickboxing, and lately I have also been spending a fair amount of time at the golf course. Beers with my mates and the odd night on the town are always on the cards too.
What can we expect to see in the next up and coming collection?
More hand drawn art. We went quiet on the artist pieces for some reason, however we injected a few into last winters range and they were amazing. We have some really cool art in the vault, which I’m looking forward to releasing with this next line. We are also experimenting with some panel/yardage printing, as well as releasing a line of board shorts and some new accessories.
What has been the highlight for the business so far?
Last season, for sure. I really didn’t expect to get the response that we did for that winter line. Personally, I felt that I had finally gotten the brand to a standard that I was happy with, though it was a tight range consisting of only cotton and fleece, and retailers are notorious for being cautious with buying for winter. My sights were set on the approaching summer and while I was busy preparing for it my inbox was filling up with orders and enquiries about the brand. I think we more than tripled our account list with that range. The sell through with that line has been awesome on a retail level too. It’s one thing to get your foot in the door, but you have to perform once you’re in there and it feels really good that we have.
Where can we find The Fall?
At select surf, street, and boutique fashion outlets throughout Australia.
Or online at www.thefall.com.au.