Feb 15, 2017 | By Samuel Trotman
Get more Denim insights as a WGSN subscriber
We always have our eye on new brands emerging globally, and have recently been lusting after new Aussie denim brand, Rolla’s. We recently featured them in our Citizen Hip report, where they gave us their picks from their native Melbourne.
But, wanting to find out more about this hot new brand and Sarah and Andy, Melbourne’s denim ‘It Couple’ behind the brand, we fired some questions over to them.
You met while working at Wrangler Australia, how long did you work together at the brand for?
“Andy was there for eight years, Sarah for six — we worked directly together for about five of those years. Andy headed Men’s and Sarah was head of Women’s design.”
Describe what it’s like working for one of the biggest denim brands in the world. The historical richness must be incredible.
“It felt really good to be a part of something with history. It was great being able to draw on such heritage and having the support of such a big name behind you makes things easier in terms of getting a foot in the door on all fronts — you have access to all sorts of great things. It was lots of fun (and lots of work!)”
Did you ever visit Rikiya Kanamaru’s extensive collection in Tokyo? Apparently he has more vintage Wrangler than Wrangler themselves!
“We have a global network of vintage denim collectors and have been lucky enough to see some pretty impressive collections. We didn’t get to see Rikiya’s, but the Japanese are such knowledgeable and dedicated collectors – we’ve seen and found some special pieces over there.”
What made you guys decide to start up your own label? Had you been discussing the idea for a while?
“We hadn’t been discussing it for a long time really, as we enjoyed our time at Wrangler. We just eventually felt like it would be nice to do something that was closer to our own heritage and what we grew up with rather than adopting another place’s identity. Australia has so many cool things to reference and we felt like it was time to draw from that rather than look to the States all the time (which we love, incidentally). It’s also a place where people or brands often adopt an identity from, particularly when it comes to denim and we were tiring of that. But once we finally clarified this thought, we moved pretty quickly.”
Once you had total creative freedom over your own brand, what were the key things you wanted to do differently?
“We wanted to simplify and not have too many rules. Working for big brands we found there were lots of ‘rules’ in terms of what you could and couldn’t do, which is understandable, but with Rolla’s we wanted something less serious with a sense of simplicity and fun and importantly something flexible to change and evolve along the way as we feel fit. Things move quickly in this industry and we wanted more freedom to engage that without getting hung up on what it means or dissecting things too much…we just wanted to focus more on feeling and doing.”
You partnered with Faberge’s former-head, David Laidlaw. How did you meet and why Faberge? We grew up with Faberge so we always naturally identified closely with it. It had this very simple, laid-back yet sexy appeal and was worn by all the cool kids. We would pick up vintage Faberge’s whenever we came across them and get excited whenever we found a good pair — we were wearing them a lot. They gradually became harder and harder to find at which point we both started thinking it would be the perfect brand to relaunch. David was the former owner of the license for Wrangler in Australia, who we worked for, so when we made the decision to move on we tracked him down and reconnected with him about our idea.”
Describe the Rolla’s customer.
“Confident, creative, fickle, fun.”
What are your future plans and ambitions for the brand?
“We are launching internationally this season — in the States first where there has been interest then hopefully beyond! We think in a period where denim has very complex washes and fabrics are getting lighter and lighter and stretchier and stretchier, there is a place for decent weight jeans in more low-fi simple washes so we want to really concentrate on building on that — jeans that hold you, but are comfortable and look relaxed yet still sexy.”
You guys are based in Melbourne, which seems to be a hotbed of emerging denim talent right now. Why do you think that is?
“People in Melbourne are always looking for new things rather than only following trends so maybe that is key.”
Are you friends with any other key labels out there, for instance, Neuw, Nobody, etc?
“Yes, we have friends working at both, Melbourne is small and working in this industry you tend to come across the same faces after a while! It’s quite nice though, we have made some good friends over the years and everyone is supportive of one another.”
Thanks Sarah and Andy! Look out for this awesome denim brand coming to stores near you…
Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.