Lukas Vincent is making waves with his fledgling label hooked on a surf-dandy sensibility.
The designer — men’s wear winner of the regional 2016/17 International Woolmark Prize for Australia and New Zealand — on Monday will compete among 12 global finalists for the main International Woolmark Prize. He is also showing his fall collection in a Paris showroom this week.
“In the Twenties, Thirties and even Forties, people used to go onto the beach in their full regalia — in their robes and smoking jackets. Some women would even wear ballgowns and slippers, everything was taking place on the beach,” said Vincent, who when creating his label set out to “bridge the two disparate areas” of surfwear and tailoring, using noble fabrics.
“I thought it would be an interesting take on Australian culture, trying to bring that to something more refined and elevated. Surfwear today is super commercial, certainly not what it was like in the Sixties and Seventies when there was a lot more soul,” said the designer, who for his research pays regular visits to the Australian National Surfing Museum in Torquay, Victoria. The site, the world’s largest surfing and beach culture museum, is located next to Bells Beach, home to the International Rip Curl Pro surfing contest, which dates back to 1973. “Whenever I go there I get so fascinated by the amazing board shorts and wetsuits — mainly from the Sixties and Seventies when the industry was in its prime.”
With these beach peacocks of yore in mind, Vincent likes to fold dandy references from the Twenties and Thirties into his creations that combine technical and traditional fabrics. Mills he works with include Bonotto in Italy, which produces fabrics on old looms from the 1800s. “They’ll do these incredible fabrics for one season only that will never be reproduced.”
With a different Italian mill, he developed a special wool-nylon technical fabric that he’s used on a tailored pant with a criss-cross front and eyelets inspired by Sixties board shorts. The Woolmark capsule will include a hoodie throw over in a bright orange bouclé that was inspired by the ponchos that surfers use to get changed under.
In a twist on the theme, the label’s fall look book was shot in a sub-zero location: Modane, in the French Alps. “I recently discovered a new sub-culture of Arctic snow surfing,” said the designer. “It was a real challenge to shoot, but the result was well worth the frostbite in the end.”