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Hailing from Sydney, TalaMade’s debut collection 100k Zone targets society’s normcore culture with the attempt to advocate for creative freedom and expression. Inventive silhouettes, industrial hardware and modern-to-gothic aesthetics are fuelled and combined to celebrate versatility for all individuals. Confidently shining a light on gender-bending and androgyny in its entirety, its founder, Tala Surace, questions how individuals utilize methods of fashion and the industry’s current position by hybridizing gothicism and contemporary streetwear. In a world where exclusivity dilutes creative expression and individualism, TalaMade defies the conventional by celebrating equality, diversity and utilitarianism for all.
As TalaMade was founded in 2018, were there particular elements or inspirations that fuelled the making of the brand? Is this a project you have been working on for a while?
TalaMade has been a working concept ever since I can remember. However, it officially got its ‘name’ (stemming from an old inside joke being tailor-made) when I started university. From an interpersonal perspective, TalaMade gave me the opportunity to further explore my own sense of creativity, which possessed more of an alternative and gothic framework during its inception and is heavily inspired by the relationship between music and anti-fashion. It’s safe to say that TalaMade has been a project that has always been present, despite at times, being in the background.
TalaMade is branded as a label that redefines the relationship between casual wear, modernism and gothicism. Would you say your personal style has a large influence on the identity of the brand?
Most definitely! My personal style was what pushed me to explore my own interests in subcultural means, music and to eventually create a conceptual form of narrative that is intangible and often unrealistic. In a way, my aesthetic became a reflection of my struggle with interpersonal development that, at times, felt quite entrapping. Being quite petite, I always loved oversized garments; this is part of what fuelled my deep love for menswear and androgyny. Therefore, creating a ‘genderless’ approach to TalaMade was imperative in my message and identity. The idea behind TalaMade is to create uniformed clothing that acts as a blank canvas for the individual, allowing them to tailor garments based on their personal needs.
As functionality is at the forefront during the creation of your products, how would you describe the techniques behind your creative process? Do you have a starting point and medium when working on new designs or is your work mainly created on a trial-and-error basis?
My creative process is quite diverse, comprising of components from inception to resolution. Every collection is conceptually driven by a linear or sequential narrative, exploring my love for writing and my ability to devise extensive and outwardly ideas. This often reflects interpersonal values, challenges and experiences that have shaped what TalaMade is today. The 100k Zone collection is the perfect example as it intends to provoke the audience to challenge initial perceptions through anti-fashion and utilitarianism. Once I’m satisfied with my background knowledge, the process itself from illustration to realization becomes very much trial-and-error-based, especially during the sketching process.

TalaMade is designed to question the common perception of fashion and its function. How do you hope consumers will interpret your garments? Who is the TalaMade customer?
When designing, I strive to create clothing that is diverse yet simple enough to appeal to many individuals who have the desire to modify garments for their own purpose. When I think of who would be wearing TalaMade, I don’t see a defined group of people or personalities in particular. Individuals would all share the commonality of being different and comfortable with that. My clothes are atypical; the individual wearing my clothes must share a mutual understanding of difference and appreciates the consequences of standing out in a crowd, even if it means being separated from normcore culture.
As the Fall/Winter 2019 collection is the label’s debut, what have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve experienced throughout your creative processes to date? Contrarily, what has been your greatest takeaway?
There have definitely been both successes and challenges in creating TalaMade from both a business and a creative perspective. From a creative standpoint, the process of devising garments that follow menswear sizing but that must suit both men and women. From a technical perspective, men’s clothing typically expresses a larger difference in proportions as womenswear often tends to be more form-fitting. Additionally, the idea of devising a body of work that markets an anti-fashion niche aesthetic is a constant challenge as there is a strong importance in finding a sense of relevance for all consumers under one narrative.
TalaMade’s first collection, 100k Zone, speculates the components of both a dystopian and utopian world in relation to radical social change. How would you say this collection challenges society’s preconceived notions? Were there any particular elements you searched for while selecting fabrics and proportions in order to build this collection?
Through flat uniformity and unisex garments, individuals are encouraged to embrace creative and gender differences despite society’s tendency to stifle creativity. 100k Zone utilizes the notion of androgyny using a dystopian landscape to inform our audience that individuals should not feel confined to particular norms.
My choices for fabric selection came down to two factors: natural vs human-made fabrications, and trans-seasonal usage. I have always been drawn to natural fibres and combinations including cotton and linen blends, fine wool, and bamboo and cotton gauze. Additionally, TalaMade collections are not released by season, as all silhouettes and fabrics must accommodate at all times. The 100k Zone collection is comprised of both lightweight and heavy fabrics, which allows our customers to get as much wear through our garments as possible
Do you see similarities between TalaMade and other fashion houses that fuel the inspiration behind your work?
I definitely see similarities between TalaMade and brands such as Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh and Yohji Yamamoto as they all share the same framework of creating clothing with a purpose, stemming outside of social norms. These designers are infamous for their outwardly aesthetic choices, that in some instances, can seem quite ‘dystopian,’ purely based off the idea that they create pieces that are unapologetically extreme.

Given the youthful approach to your label, what draws you to the individuals you work with? Is there anything you search for in the subjects you capture?
Being 21, I surround myself with creatives who share the motivation for creating work that is conceptually-driven and rather experimental. It’s quite surreal to think that as young creatives, we all share the same passion to be a part of an industry that allows us to explore the depths of our minds and chaotic tendencies. I can’t thank enough all the people I have worked with these past months for the endless support; the feeling of being able to relate to a group of people in such a creative and unhinged manner is truly insane and something I hadn’t quite experienced until now.
What is your favourite piece from your debut collection? Why?
My favourite piece is the Reworked Tuxedo Dress. With a combination of linen and wool suiting, this dress provides a utilitarian approach to the typically conservative nature of the tunic. From a conceptual perspective, the entire collection was centrally derived from this single piece as it is arguably the most outrageous yet versatile piece in the collection.
As gender neutrality is the foundation for your label, how do you see your brand image developing in the future?
I see TalaMade progressing into a world of gender-bending and androgynous fashion from a more gothic-streetwear perspective. I would definitely love to explore the idea of our garments blurring the lines between sportswear, functionality and sleek leisurewear.
How did you come about gearing your work towards a gothic aesthetic while remaining gender-neutral?
TalaMade reflects a very moody yet refined gothic aesthetic, which is present in the 100k Zone collection as it pays homage to the youth-driven era and subcultural movement of ‘80s punk and, of course, gothicism, which was introduced shortly after.

Do you believe that creating a unisex aesthetic allows for freedom or does it add elements of restraint to an individual? Why?
I define gender-fluid fashion to be a broader creative platform for all, rather than being a specific category that possesses key characteristics. Genderless fashion is – and should be – thought of as a broad concept in order to appear as completely different. Through this, we have the social freedom to shape and alter these garments to suit our own needs, and therefore, fulfil a desire specific to the individual without restraint.
What is your take on fashion’s current status with gender-bending? How do you hope to flourish and pave the way for gender expression that is different from other fashion houses?
The fashion industry currently practices a certain sense of exclusivity that can dilute creative expression in order to fulfil preconceived ideas that may not be as inclusive or relevant to today’s evolution of gender-bending. Although there have been glimmers of progression through time, the industry should be more accepting and supportive of new creatives whether their ideas are successful or pose challenges. The support of like-minded individuals will allow for a progressive industry, and hopefully, encourage the higher-scale fashion houses to be more supportive of new ideologies.
Do you believe there is a difference between unisex and androgyny?
To an extent, yes. I think of unisex garments to have no gender-defining characteristics, while androgyny, for me, provides references to both genders norms, yet does not necessarily lean to one side in particular. My thought process is that androgynous fashion is dependent on the individual to steer the garment in a particular direction. I don’t think there is necessarily a right or wrong answer to this as both blur the lines between two definitive groups, which alone is a new concept to the commercial world of fashion.
Given your approach to reinventing athleisure, what do you want the final takeaway from your collection to be for the viewers?
There are and should not be any limitations to your creative development and expression! Make a conscious choice to express yourself in a manner that alludes to your individual intention. Stand out in a crowd by encouraging individuals to make sense of their own diversity and to not let your surroundings navigate how you have to remain.

Amanda Breeze

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