There’s no doubt that streetwear has been one of fashion’s biggest storylines over the last decade. In 2017, its symbolic high point came when Supreme sold a stake that reportedly valued the company at $1 billion (paywall) to the private-equity firm Carlyle Group. It was a staggering evaluation for the industry; Supreme—a company known for selling hoodies, t-shirts, and odd knick-knacks—capitilising on how fashion and culture are changing.
For Fashion Marketing student Karabo Tlokotsi, she was quick to recognise this change and how Millennials and Gen Z are now representing a large, growing market with the hunger for community and authenticity. Looking to document Melbourne’s underground streetwear styles, Melbourne Curated takes skate influences, niche trends, hip-hop ties and upstart movements to collect the new collateral that streetwear is rearing.
Hi Karabo, thanks for chatting with me! Let’s talk about your project Melbourne Curated. I love it. What is it and what inspired you to get the project rolling?
Melbourne Curated, in the beginning, was a pet project that I had been thinking about pursuing for about a year. In a nutshell, it’s a platform that promotes Melbourne’s streetwear culture. Melbourne is the fashion capital of Australia and there is no doubt about that, however, I felt that the streetwear culture was very underground. There are hundreds of Melbourne-based influencers who document fashion, but I’ve noticed that all of them document similar styles—the type of ‘girly-girl’ or ‘fancy, corporate-wear’ styles. There hasn’t been anything that has been able to cater to younger people who are interested in all things streetwear and that’s where my idea was born.
“I learn things and celebrate life through imagery. Archiving is an important part of my daily life. If I see something of interest or a source of inspiration when it comes to fashion, I’ll save it somewhere knowing that I can refer to it later.”
I wanted to create a platform for people who consider themselves to be ‘hypebeasts’ or ‘hypebaes’ of Melbourne, to show off their passion for streetwear fashion. I have had a wonderful experience since the creation of the page. The word is spreading and I’m finding that more and more people are wanting to become a part of this community that I am establishing. It really has been a great networking tool.
As a Fashion Marketing student, have you always been drawn to documenting fashion?
Always. I am a very visual person. I learn things and celebrate life through imagery. Archiving is an important part of my daily life. If I see something of interest or a source of inspiration when it comes to fashion, I’ll save it somewhere knowing that I can refer to it later. To be honest, I do end up referencing the images I archive in most of my personal looks or incorporate them somehow into my fashion photography.
With a focus on streetwear and its styling, what do you look for when capturing a look?
To be honest, most of my posts are spur of the moment. Streetwear is such a diverse style, it’s hard to just stick to one type of it, especially in a place like Melbourne. I’ll just be walking along and if I see someone with a unique sense of streetwear style, I stop them immediately and ask to take a picture of them. Considerations about lighting and location come later and that’s what I love about my page and the message I’m trying to promote. It’s that first glance where you’re captivated and inspired by the clothing and you forget about everything else around you. Once I have my model, then I’ll come back down from cloud nine and start to determine where I should position them and how they should pose. Sometimes I’m really lucky and the setting we’re in has a colour palette that matches the outfit that my model is wearing whereas most times I just rely on my editing skills to do the job. I’m obsessed with white borders, so I’ve kept that theme going on the page. It just gives it a nice, clean aesthetic and it also enhances the images that little bit more.
“Technological developments and social media platforms have made it so easy to reach mass markets so that’s why it’s important for influencers to take advantage of that.”
In the age of social media, many fashion influencers use Instagram as a way of marketing their work. Do you feel Instagram is an important tool right now for influencers?
Most definitely. There are millions and millions of people who use Instagram daily and influencers can reach them within a matter of seconds. Technological developments and social media platforms have made it so easy to reach mass markets so that’s why it’s important for influencers to take advantage of that. It is so much cheaper than traditional marketing methods. Having said that, it is difficult for some accounts to maintain longevity.
In the world of Instagram, it is survival of the fittest so it’s important that you show your worth and creativity. This is how people will want to collaborate with you—by seeing that your page is very unique from your competitors. A great thing about Instagram is its interconnectivity with other platforms. Influencers can link their personal websites on their posts or in their bio which gives their audience more opportunities to connect and interact with their work.
“As a start, you need to have a clear idea of what you’re actually doing for your project. If one of your posts require you to approach strangers, it will be so much easier for you to explain your concept if you flesh it out and have a deep understanding of it yourself.”
Since starting Melbourne Curated, have you seen any trends emerge on the local fashion scene? Do you have any forecasts for the next few months we need to know?
I have definitely noticed two distinct styles within the local fashion scene. I’ve encountered some fantastic vintage-style, skater-type fashion that not only the Millenials are wearing but also mature-aged people as well. People who have taken to this style will often pair their thrift shop finds with some higher-end pieces. The thing I love about this is that every person puts their own twist in their outfit and makes it very individual and the way they style it as well makes it look wearable for pretty much everyone.
Another thing that’s interesting about this trend is that DIY is becoming more apparent. Millennials nowadays prefer to make their own clothes to ensure individuality, which I think is a great thing. I have also noticed luxury streetwear making a more prominent appearance. This style is mostly worn by international visitors who may be here on holiday or on a more permanent basis. They are not afraid to wear head-to-toe designer, whether it be Gucci, Vetements and Off-White and for the most part, they pull it off well.
In terms of forecasting, I feel like local, Melbourne-based streetwear brands will really take-off. Every time I’m shopping or wandering around Melbourne, I’ll be intrigued by some pieces I see people wearing and when I ask them they’ll say it’s their friend’s brand or some label based somewhere in Melbourne.
“Just be confident.”
What advice would you give those wanting to approach strangers for their own project?
As a start, you need to have a clear idea of what you’re actually doing for your project. If one of your posts require you to approach strangers, it will be so much easier for you to explain your concept if you flesh it out and have a deep understanding of it yourself. There is nothing worse than standing there and fumbling for words. People are scared of the unknown so the more information they are equipped with, the more likely they are to take part in your project. You must also take into account that people have the right to say no. Don’t dwell on it too much if they do. It’s just their personal choice. Chances are, if one person says no then there are hundreds of other people out there who are willing to help you out.
Another thing to remember is that you should offer to tag people in your posts. This is a way of networking and building long-lasting relationships with people. It’s likely that their friends and other people they’re connected to will see your post if you tag them. As a last piece of advice, just be confident. You need to look like you know what you’re doing. Make sure your page has a nice aesthetic before you’re comfortable showing it to people. Take into account the way you dress when you approach people and your mannerisms when you engage in conversation. Once you do this, you shouldn’t have a problem with approaching anyone.
Follow Karabo at @_karabo_ and her project, @melbournecurated for the best new looks. If fashion is something that makes your heart sing, check out our course in Fashion Marketing! Apply now to get hands-on in the industry and connect with passionate people like Karabo.