following australian fashion week tso had a chat with alvin manalo, the creative mind behind up and coming label saint augustine academy. definately a designer to keep your eye on.
tso: Hey Alvin. How are you?
alvin: I'm a little sick with the flu right now actually! I think I've been wearing myself out with all the craziness of fashion week.. although partying for 6 nights in a row probably didn’t help ha ha.
tso: Have you always wanted to be a designer, if not what did you want to be as a kid?
alvin: When I was a kid, I actually really wanted to be a comic book artist, I really loved the X-Men and Batman comics. Drawing has always been a big interest of mine.
tso: How did you get into designing? How did Saint Augustine Academy come about?
alvin: I was studying Economics at uni when I decided that it wasn’t for me – the appeal of doing something creative was too much, so I formed the label with a friend from uni, Adrian who has since gone on to become the label’s business manager. The label was born out of not being able to find what I wanted from local designers so I decided to make things that I would actually wear.
tso: Congratulations on your recent show at RAFW SS09/10. Your collections have been inspired by the indie rock scene, was it the same for this collection or did you draw inspiration from elsewhere?
alvin: Thank you. My collection are always inspired by music, you are right! That’s kind of become the Saint Augustine Academy signature. “Do You Believe Her?” references a song of the same name by Danish band The Raveonettes. With this collection I aimed to showcase the different musical elements contained in that song; surf rock, 60’s girl groups and British invasion bands.
tso: What are you listening to these days?
alvin: I’ve just discovered some new favourites; Black Angels, Black Mountain, Dead Confederate, Au Revoir Simone and Passion Pit.
tso: You have dressed the likes of Nick Cave, Interpol, MGMT and Bloc Party to name a few. How does that feel?
alvin: It feels amazing.. it’s definitely my favourite part of what I do. There’s something about seeing one of my idols wearing (and liking) clothes that I have created.. doesn’t get much better than that!
tso: Any cool stories about meeting any of the rockers?
alvin: We arranged to meet Nick Cave this year while he was in Sydney for the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival (which was amazing by the way!) and his manager was kind enough to invite me and Candi to go to his hotel room for a private fitting. While we were there, his beautiful wife and twin sons arrived! We felt like we were dreaming.. We had to have a drink in the bar downstairs afterwards to recover.
tso: Do you have anybody on your wish list to dress?
alvin: I’d love to see Bob Dylan and Morrisey in my clothes. Also, Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Lydia Lunch would look amazing in my womenswear..
tso: How are you finding womenswear compared to menswear? Do you find either more challenging, fun, are you more enthusiastic about one or the other?
alvin: Womenswear is a little more challenging, I’m still learning the ropes a little there. But I love doing both, its so great when someone comes into the store and gets excited to find something they like.. makes all the hard work worth it!
tso: In a pool of never ending competition for womenswear, what can we expect from Saint Augustine Academy? Will you be broadening the womenswear range or stick mainly to menswear?
alvin: Womenswear will continue to grow with coming seasons, I would eventually like to make each collection half/half. I’d like for Saint Augustine Academy to known for being a good womenswear label, as well as mens eventually.
tso: What’s next for you and Saint Augustine Academy?
alvin: Right now, I’m designing Winter 2010 – my inspiration for this collection is kind of taking over my life right now, its such a rich source.. and for once its not a band or album.. although it is music-related (of course!) We are also planning our 5th birthday celebrations, along with the first birthday of our flagship store.. So a big party is in order!