Wearable art in Sydney: SKARFE.

SKARFE JESS JOHNSON

When I was flaneuring in Potts Point, Sydney, I spotted this little jewel of a shop: SKARFE! His owner, Brad McGlashan, has a passion for art and… scarves. So he merged both for our greater pleasure. Don’t wait any longer to discover his creations!

Information

4C Roslyn St., Potts Point, just a few footsteps away from Kings Cross  - SKARFE website

The first time I went to Sydney, I spotted a beautiful tiny shop called SKARFE in Potts Point dedicated only to … scarves. The window was beautifully dressed, with colourful scarves arranged in the form of a giant ice cream cone. The shop was closed then, soI returned another time to discover what it has to offer.

When I entered, I was greeted by owner Brad McGlashan who showed me his gorgeous collections, which are a result of a close collaboration with contemporary artists.

I spent quite a long time in the shop and it turned into a full-fledged interview as Brad talked me through his concept. Here are some abstracts of our conversation.

 

Skarfe Brad McGlashan Sydney

 

SKARFE is definitely your place to shop when in Sydney.

 

How long have you been in this business?

In February 2013, I started as just a retail store to buy and sell scarves. And then other things gradually developed.

Now I outsource printing for people who want to make unique scarves, like artists, for instance. At the moment, I’m working with three different Sydney artists who want to translate their work onto textiles; mostly using digital printing. We also make a range of our own scarves in collaboration with specific artists which we also sell in store. They come in limited edition. We also wholesale them to some other independently owned stores, but not to department stores. For instance, we sell at the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) and at the National Gallery of Australia.

I’m doing some custom work for Auckland Art Gallery at the moment; they’ve just acquired a video… a 35-minute video showing the time-lapsed production sequence. What we’re trying to do is a lapsed scarf, so it’s pretty long and it’s a whole video of it and its sequence.

In the future, there’ll be more of that; like custom-making items for institutions and organizations, etcetera – which is good.

 

Skarfe Sydney

 

 

Do you do design yourself?

No, I’m not a designer by trade, although I did work in fashion. I studied law, and then ended up working for a New Zealand fashion company managing their operations in Australia.

Then I took about two or three years off and just travelled, and I found that as I was travelling I was buying lots of scarves! They are a good thing to buy because they’re light, they’re easy, they’re mementos of where you’ve been, but you can also use them. They’re easy to gift; you can buy a load of them to wear or decide who to give them to later when you get home. They’re a really easy thing to pick up. But it should be related to where you have travelled to. You know, you buy an Australian-designed one when you’re in Australia or if you’re in Jordan buy one there. So it’s a memento specific to that place.

 

Skarfe Sydney

 

Do you work only with Australian designers?

It varies depending on where I’ve been travelling to. At the moment, I’ve got a lot of Australian work, for example from Julie White who is based in Adelaide. I have designs from Londoner Kate Banazi who now lives here. ; She’s a graphic designer who does big work, like commercial work, for big companies, with this as her side-project. She works with all hand-printed silk screens.

I like it when you look at the whole picture of a scarf. It’s an artwork unto itself yet it works beautifully as a scarf when you wrap it up.

We’ve recently been working with a friend of mine, Lucas Grogan, a Melbourne artist, on a series that feature 500 different tombstones, each one is hand silk-screened. These scarves are light and easy, good for high summer. Wear them like sarongs or just tuck one in your bag when you’re travelling.

 

SKARFE LUCAS GROGAN

 

The works from this series with New Zealand artist Kushana Bush are owned by the Michael Buxton Collection in Melbourne. The original is on paper: it’s quite a prestigious picture. He’s represented here by Darren Knight, which is probably one of the best contemporary art galleries here. He’s got a great gallery as well in Waterloo.

 

SKARFE KUSHANA BUSH

 

More recently, I collaborated with Jess Johnson, another New Zealand artist, who after having lived in Melbourne for 10 years, is now based in New York.

Jess Johnson is known for installation and video work but also for works on paper. Her works echo her interest in science fiction, parallel universes, outsider art and comic books.

Human figures twisting their body are a recurring theme is her graphics, which translate perfectly on to foldable, wearable fabrics.

We chose three of Johnson’s works, “Gilgamesh”, “Flesh Screensaver”, and “Wallpaper”, and had them digitally printed in a limited edition range of oversized silk scarves.

 

SKARFE JESS JOHNSON

 

They are all emerging artists whose work is becoming highly collectible. It’s great that I can work with them now.

As for the fabric, we have crepes, georgette, silk, chiffon, muslin, cashmere and modal, wool mixes, cotton.

We also have Phulkari, a specific type of embroidery made in Punjabi states in India.

 

Skarfe Sydney

 

What’s your typical client?

Older women because they can afford it. But they’re not boring. They have really strong personalities and I always think that women become bolder as they get older. They’re more confident, and not as influenced by trying to attract men or impress their friends. They become empowered. And the people who dress the best, with the most character, I think, are almost always older women.

 

Skarfe Sydney

 

Your store is in Sydney. Is there a difference between Sydney and Melbourne in the way people dress?

 I think the people are quite different, actually, and I think you see this in their personalities, the way they dress, the way the eat and drink… I don’t know. It’s funny; it’s the same country, so you wouldn’t think it would be that different, but it is. But you know, in Australia it’s a national pastime to talk about it, the difference between Melbourne and Sydney!

From a retail perspective, it’s very different. The Melbournians layer and they will wear darker clothes whereas Sydney tends to be light, bright, tight, obvious – do you know what I mean? Sydney is easy and sexy: denim, t-shirts, white tight dresses or floaty dresses… In Sydney, in dressing, there’s no irony; there’s no humour; there’s not a lot of character. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just what it is.

 

Skarfe Sydney

 

———–

Good to know:

Besides their collaboration with artists, SKARFE offers affordable custom digital textile printing services to private clients and businesses.

They are specialists in silk scarves and can translate (almost) any artwork into luxurious wearable accessories. They use state of the art digital printing technology, which enable to achieve impeccably detailed design and highly accurate colour matching.

 

Pictures of SKARFE’s collaboration with Jess Johnson, Lucas Grogan and Kushana Bush, courtesy of SKARFE.


Share

Leave a Reply