Right on trend

9 May 2014

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What do you get when you combine a business student, an osteopathy student and a mutual interest in fashion?

If you guessed plans to open a trendy looking masseuse parlour, you’d be wrong, however you wouldn’t necessarily be laughed at.

Whilst the concept of an online clothing store may seem a tad left of centre for some, for Paul Versace, 22, and Andrew Harkin, 20, the idea for a creative amalgamation was the obvious next step for the long time friends and colleagues.

“We’ve both worked in mens wear for over three years now, and we’ve always been interested in our own personal style,” Versace tells upstart.

“When buying clothing for ourselves, there were always things about items that we bought that we just weren’t happy with; we’d always say to each other ‘I wish this jacket didn’t have that hood’, or ‘I wish this wasn’t like that’, so we thought; why don’t we just design our own stuff that we really like? And we feel like a lot of other people would like [too]. Simple designs that fit well.”

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After some careful deliberation, the brand Trend Clothing was born, a men’s fashion label taking inspiration from the latest trends across the globe.

The step into business wasn’t taken without known sacrifices, the young entrepreneurs both deferring from their respective degrees for the year to allow for a full commitment to their vision.

However it appears they are entering the market at an ideal time, with the popularity of online shopping steadily increasing. According to the annual World Internet Project, the number of online purchases made by Australians grew by more than 46 per cent between 2011 and 2013.

The report also found that, contrary to popular belief, it was actually men who led in online spending figures in 2013, forking out $229 a month on online purchases, compared to women, who spent on average $204 a month online.

This is good news for the twosome, who are aware of the competitiveness of the industry.

It’s always a concern [entering a competitive market], we are working in the clothing industry now,” Versace says.

“But we feel like we’ve targeted a niche demographic. Our product is a lot plainer, that’s our promise point to who we’re targeting, and our products are diverse, not just for one particular person, but for a lot of people.”

You may be sitting there, quietly considering your last pay check and your inability to successfully time manage and be wondering how on earth the duo are getting this venture off the ground.

But according to the laid-back pair, it’s all about persistence, and a little help from the 21st century’s new best friend, social media.

“It took us about three months [to get things off the ground], working out fits and colours and materials, and then working out factories and where we were going to get everything made,” Versace explains.trend 2

“We have a factory in Bali, so all our products are made in Indonesia. Probably one of the biggest challenges would have been finding a reliable factory, and not compromising on quality. The hardest thing is finding good quality material and, then obviously getting the products here [to Australia].

“There are so many little things that you kind of don’t think of until you’re actually doing it, which is fine, but is still an obstacle.”

The two explain that initially, their ideas came in the form of a style blog. They then transitioned to a menswear label.

“We uploaded [to our Instagram account] a fair few images of just men’s style, and these images gave our followers a preview of what our brand was going to be. From then on, we slowly introduced our products as Trend Clothing.

“Social media has been pretty big for us. Having 25,000 Instagram followers and getting over 300 to 400 likes per upload is big. Hopefully these people actually buy,” Versace says.

And if the brand’s launch party is anything to go by, the pair are set to make their mark on the industry.

The event took place at Eve Bar Southbank in Melbourne on Saturday May 3rd, boasting a media wall and a runway show, showcasing their stylish winter collection for 2014. Through VIP invitation and promotion via social media, the club reached full capacity.

Not a bad effort for two Gen Y’s on their first business venture.

What’s the ultimate goal for these friends-turned-business partners?

“We hope to build a strong branding for Trend and eventually be well known internationally,” Versace says. “If it was an option, we’d like to go wholesale, or open our own store in the future.”

In any case, these two young men are set for a prosperous future. You get the sense that come any season, both their business and style will remain right on trend.

Follow Trend Clothing on Instagram: @trendclothing_

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 Jacinta Newbold is a third year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University and is the deputy editor of upstart. You can follow her on Twitter: @jacinta_newbold.