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Fashion's English Rose: Handsom

It isn’t often that a new brand waltzes in and sweeps us off our feet in the kind of rapid courtship that makes us wonder how it all began, but new Sydney brand Handsom has made us rethink our expectations. Its first collection, launched in November last year (that’s less than three months ago), has managed to redefine the importance of first impressions. Sophisticated without being ordinary, sexy but not overtly so, and with a contemporary edge that you just know will last, Handsom has brought a much-needed infusion of English prep-school charm to the streets of Sydney.

The love child of British expats Sam Rush and Henry Allum, Handsom’s launch collection, One, breathes refinement into winter. Clean cut and polished with cleverly conspicuous details, its heritage-inspired colour palette says no to black and the dreariness that colder months often emit. It is the kind of sentiment that best comes from those who understand the magnitude of winter style from a country where losing sense of it is fashion suicide. Designed for both men and women, Handsom is bringing the best from its world and, in turn, making ours brighter.

Side Street, Sydney spoke to Sam & Henry about their very exciting new label.

What started your desire to start a label?

Sam: Having studied fashion for five years and having worked for designers in both London and Sydney, I’ve always been working towards having my own label. Henry and I went travelling in 2007 and wound up in Sydney, where we fell in love with the city itself as well as its lifestyle. In its relatively unsaturated market, we saw an opportunity to make an impact on the Australian fashion scene.

Henry: Design has always been a passion of mine, and having studied product design at university, I always knew the design industry was where I wanted to be. With the opportunity to broaden my design skills whilst working alongside Sam, Handsom was something I fell into.

How, where and when did the two of you meet?

Sam: We met in 2005 in Leeds, England whilst at University. Henry was going to live and work in Ibiza for five months a week after we met… and I decided to join him. Straight into the deep end!

How did the process of creating a label together begin?

Although we love many Australian labels, there was frustration with the lack of accessible quality fashion here in Sydney. We’ve always said we’d like to work together on something like this, so we thought we would give it a crack…

Why did you want to create Handsom? Why and how did you determine the brand’s aesthetic?

Handsom was created as a way for us both to express ourselves creatively and do something we both really enjoy. Working for yourself as opposed to designing for someone else’s label or company is very rewarding. I think in some ways we are both very impatient and just wanted to get on with something for ourselves…

We wanted our aesthetic to be simple but interesting. I think the word ‘classic’ is somewhat of a cliché at the moment but we did definitely want an element of traditional style, only with an eye on current trends.

Having said that, it’s constantly evolving and I don’t think either of us could tell you what it will be in a year's time; it could be the complete opposite!

What was the Autumn/Winter 2010 collection inspired by? What materials did you use?

The collection draws inspiration from our British backgrounds. Since leaving the UK we have come to realise what it is about English style, culture and heritage that we like. To us, the regal colour palette and traditional corduroys, cottons, and leather are all reminiscent of British Style.

You are complete babies on the fashion scene. How has the ride been so far?

Since launching our first range in November last year, the ride has been fast. Very fast! The learning curve is pretty steep but generally the whole process has been extremely rewarding.

What have been some of the most difficult parts about starting out?

Probably having to juggle all the different elements that make up running a fashion label…production…finance…PR…all very time consuming. We would love to be able to spend all our time designing!

What have been the best parts about starting out?

Seeing something grow is very exciting as is learning about the fashion industry here in Sydney - it is very different to England.

What are you hoping to achieve with your label?

In the short term we both want to see our labels next to great designers in stores and on cool people on the street! Long term - we see Handsom as being a multi-disciplinary lifestyle brand with a focus on several aspects of design besides fashion.

What kind of a girl/boy do you want to see wearing your label?

It’s hard to identify exactly because the great thing about our clothes is that so many different people can wear them. The pieces are very versatile and work well with most wardrobes. Our aim has been to achieve a look that is classic and elegant, but without being boring (or worn by boring people!).

And finally, how do you unwind after a collection?

A big night out – it’s good to have a bit of a blow out!

You can purchase Handsom here.

words: Seema Duggal


January 21, 2010 at 9:30 PM joanna said...

Handsom speaks volumes to me. Thank you Ms Rush and Mr Allum; and Seema for sharing with us the joy of Handsom.

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