Friends Rachelle Sinclair and Thembi Hanify are shaking up the old guard of fashion and delighting critics with their simple but effective approach to design, through their label Mathys Sinclair.
When the Sydney and NYC based label debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2016, the response was one of buzzed excitement and refreshing newness. This first collection, Spring/Summer 17, sent a ripple of exhilaration throughout the industry, garnering significant interest and acclaim. This, we realized, is a contemporary label with a difference. Their design ethos, “look cool, be nice”, pervades their designs, bringing a refreshing new feel to the streets of sportwear; “A big part of our journey now is continually developing our brand voice and ethos. We’re finding more and more that it’s essential to provide a point of view that is genuine and has a positive impact on the consumer.”
Mathys Sinclair is a refreshing and contemporary take on luxury streetwear, without ever falling into aesthetic tropes. Sportswear elements are given new life with their unique voice. Their aesthetic is built upon a palate of neutral tones, lifted with bursts of moss green and cobalt blue. Hardware detailing, such as pop stud fastenings and zips, add a hard edge and sports feel, toeing the line of (but never succumbing to) traditional sportswear. The wearability of their designs, along with their fine detailing and genuine originality, are clear indicators of their awareness these two designers have of the women they design for.
This new venture, 10-years in the making, is not the first foray into designing for Sinclair and Hanify, with Sinclair commenting “We started working creatively together by styling and art directing shoots in Brisbane, our home town. We then branched off into our own territories…” Sinclair was previously the cofounder and designer for Australian label KHALO, while Hanify has done branding and art direction for fashion powerhouses such as Rag & Bone and 3.1 Phillip Lim. “From this combined history and experience we then believed we had the tools, knowledge and experience to build a successful long-term brand together. And thus, Mathys Sinclair was born.”
Check out the full interview below!
Can you tell me how Mathys Sinclair first came into fruition?
The unfiltered, real version of how the idea was born was in a quirky, little bar in Brisbane, where we had just met each other and after a few drinks were talking excitedly together saying ‘we should start a fashion label together one day’.
We started working creatively together by styling and art directing shoots in Brisbane, our hometown. We then branched off into our own territories, Rachelle doing fashion PR between Sydney and Los Angeles and then launching KAHLO in Sydney, and Thembi moving to NYC to explore art direction and branding in fashion. In her time in NYC Thembi has worked in-house and agency-side for some major contemporary and luxury fashion brands including 3.1 Phillip Lim, rag & bone, Tommy Hilfiger, Longchamp and Stella McCartney.
From this combined history and experience we then believed we had the tools, knowledge and experience to build a successful long-term brand together. And thus, Mathys Sinclair was born in early 2015.
What is the dynamic like between both of you?
Though we both have our own energies and strengths, we make sure we are involved in every aspect of the brand. Rachelle’s expertise lies in design, production, sales and public relations, whereas Thembi’s expertise lies in branding, art direction, content creation and marketing. Our secret is to listen to each other and remain true to ourselves and our Mathys Sinclair vision. It’s about being grounded and real, hence our motto for life being ‘Look Cool, Be Nice’.
Is it challenging to be working across the Australian and NY markets simultaneously?
It’s really interesting to have a foot in both places. It constantly makes us think about the globalization of fashion and how you can transmit one message as a brand and it be received by two different places that have quite different characteristics and landscapes. Of course, everyone’s branded digital content is available all over the world for anyone to see, but each city still remains unique through its culture, lifestyle, shopping habits, seasons etc. These things aren’t easily changed. We try and think really hard about what’s going to appeal to our customer in the USA and then in Australia to make sure we are relevant to both places.
How did the collaboration with artist Corey Wash come about?
Corey and Thembi met a while back in New York through a mutual friend. As we were developing our brand concept we were following Corey’s art and her messaging and aesthetic just seemed to fit in perfectly with our vision, so we asked her if she’d be interested in collaborating for our buy-now-wear-now pieces to launch the first collection. We love that Corey is fearless in speaking her mind. Her truths put lots of people in check! Her aesthetic is pure, simple and universal, and this really falls in line with both of our personal aesthetics and the Mathys Sinclair design ethos.
You’ve received a lot of positive feedback and recognition since debuting at New York Fashion Week last year. How has the experience been since then?
The experience has been an amazing one. For a brand just starting out, we’ve managed to garner press from the likes of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, i-D, Nylon, Refinery29 and Hypebae. Our latest collection has been received with even more positive feedback, and we have a lot in the works for it that we’re excited to soon share. In terms of stockists, we’ve positioned ourselves in stores we feel really fit with our ethos and have a direct connection to our customer. We’re stocked in Sincerely, Tommy in Brooklyn, NYC, where Kai (owner) has done an incredible job to build not just a store, but a community, which we feel great to be a part of. Being stocked in Violent Green in Brisbane has also been a huge highlight for us, as we both used to shop there when we were younger. It’s crazy to see that come full circle!
As independent designers, what is most important to you when considering the future of your label?
A big part of our journey now is continually developing our brand voice and ethos. We’re finding more and more that it’s essential to provide a point of view that is genuine and has a positive impact on the consumer. If a brand doesn’t have a ‘soul’ so to speak, it might not do so well in this day and age! Being independent, we have a lot of flexibility in terms of deciding on our timing and development of projects. The industry is in quite a state of flux at the moment, so we want to be able to hang on to this flexibility for as long as possible and see if we can find better solutions for ourselves and our customers in terms of when and how we present and deliver future collections.
On that note, what is next in store for Mathys Sinclair?
Our immediate and most important item on the agenda is designing the new collection and really honing in on our fabrics, styling and design ethos. We have some really exciting ideas brewing that we can’t wait to share. We are also working on upcoming pop up events, artist collaborations and special projects. We could not be more grateful for the response we’ve received with the brand so far.
Images provided by Mathys Sinclair
Photographer: Kate Stein
Stylists: Thembi Hanify & Rachelle Sinclair
Models: Joi Broughton, Pam Soontornpadungsin, Sandra Winther, Talia Arochas
Makeup: Justine Sweetman
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