BEHIND THE BRAND: ZANEROBESeptember 1, 2014
Born in 2002 over a beer-fuelled bet on who could design the best t-shirt, Australian label ZANEROBE has quickly submerged itself into being an international streetwear brand in just twelve years.
Listing their influences as festivals, beats, travel, friends, street and surf – we figured it would be swell to grab some words with founders Leith Testoni and Jonathan Yeo – digging a little deeper into their brand roots, and finding out what it’s like working with your best mate for over a decade.
UO: Hey guys – so tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Jonathan: I was born in New Zealand, reside in Sydney, and I’m turning 40 this year. I love the challenges of running an international brand – It’s my dream job. My guilty pleasure is drinking Jamesons after a big ski day.
Leith: ZANEROBE has been around for almost 12 years now. It started from a general lack of interest in the menswear market and quest to do something different. We are very much entrenched in the Australia/New Zealand street surf scene, which drives many global trends.
UO: How did you form ZANEROBE?
J: Very casually – I was having a beer with Leith Testoni (aka The Big Bear) and we decided to start a small project on the side of our “real” corporate jobs. Leith always had a very savvy eye for fashion so I exploited his mad skills and put him to work.
UO: How has your brand aesthetic evolved over time?
J: We’re a trend-based brand so what we designed 10 years ago is completely different to what we’re producing now. ZANEROBE started as an Australian-based premium sport offering and we’re now a significant contributor to contemporary men’s fashion globally.
L: Like any brand, it matures with age. We are more focused with subtle detailing and fabrications than overt and obvious garments to gain attention. This comes with time and confidence. We have reduced the reliance on bold prints and look more to exciting fabrication developments, trims and denim washes.
UO: You guys have been working together for ten years. Is it hard balancing a friendship and a business?
J: Not if you don’t sweat the small stuff and have incredible mind-control abilities. We’re extremely fortunate to have a friendship and common interests outside of business hours.
L: We are very different people and the balance works well. We don’t come from fashion backgrounds and we approach everything logically and without ego.
UO: Is there a particular piece from your line that you’re super excited about?
J: I love it all but I’m gravitating to all the clean, monochromatic styles currently: classic white button-down, solid black elongated tee, Dynamo jogger-chino with knit cuff.
L: I’m excited about every piece in our collection, that’s why we do it. I still get a thrill when new samples arrive and I get to talk it through with our sales guys. It’s great when you finish a showing and people are speechless – it’s a nice feeling.
UO: Who are some of your fashion icons?
J: Leith Testoni, Tom Ford. In that order.
L: I don’t really have any to be honest, so I’m not going to make any up. I get inspired by regular people putting together great looks no matter who they are. I’ll often say “great look” to people I don’t know on the street.
UO: Share one cool thing you’ve seen on the internet recently.
J: I was recently overseas and Skype’d with my puppy back in Sydney. It was a quick conversation but she assured me everything was fine – “You two kids should go and enjoy yourselves.
L: I’m still pretty astounded by Google image search. It’s great that you can find the origin of an image when it could have been blogged so many times.
Interview by Katie Gregory – UO US BLOG