We spoke with the creators of the Great Southern Denim Co about the importance of the right pair, and trusting the instincts of those who walk through their door.
Are you a lover of them denim pant feels? Well, if you said no, you sit in a fashion minority. Soz. The humble jeans are a beloved item that will never not be a staple dish on the fashion diet. The key is to buy the right style of jeans for your own personal shape and taste. However, labels that can accommodate you to a perfect denim T can be difficult to find on our shores.
So where do you go? Well, welcome to the great minds of Oliver Ward and Graeme Kent, the two men behind Great Southern Denim Co who have made care and quality the cornerstones of their brand. They only sell labels from designers that show their jeans care, labels that understand how men’s bodies fit denim, and most of all, they trust their customers to trust their instincts.
TBS: Hi guys. Now, you’ve both had a love affair with denim for years now. What is it about the material that gets you going?
GSD: It’s many things really. It’s the beautiful way it ages, and the character it develops over time and with wear. It’s the feel and detail of the fabric, and the variety of ways that it can be produced and developed. It’s the depth of colour in the Indigo used. Most of all it’s the combination of all these things together that make denim such a truly unique fabric.
How did you two meet, and when did the idea to open the Great Southern Denim and Co store come to be?
I couldn’t definitively tell you exactly how it was we met, it could have been through a number of channels, but we’ve known each other for what feels like eons. The idea for the store just sort of grew out of a desire to do something that we felt wasn’t really being done at the time. It took a while to bring it to life, and many beers, but we wanted to showcase brands that we weren’t seeing getting the love they deserved but also, more importantly, who weren’t part of some disposable cookie-cutter fashion scene that was available on every high street in the country.
Your shop is adorned with the craftsmanship of some great but rarer brands of Japanese and Indie American jean labels. What kind of designer or label do you look out for, and what is it about them and their creations that fit the Great Southern Denim and Co standard?
There’s a lot of great denim out there, and many labels using it, but that doesn’t mean they’re all making a great product. We’ve tried and will continue to find, labels and brands that take great personal pride in what they do. More often than not these are the smaller brands, the ones you won’t see on the shelves of franchised stores. These are the labels that are built on a labour of love for what they do, and couldn’t conceivably think of anything else they’d rather do.
What makes GSD and Co stand out from other retailers?
We try and only stock what we feel we can get behind, rather than just “what will sell”. From the one-man operation of White Horse Ranch Dungarees, the husband and wife operations of Railcar & Rogue Territory, we’ve aimed to stock what we feel represents a great product and one that’s been made for the right reasons. We aim to build relationships with our customers, they become our mates not just clients to make a buck off.
Do you offer any home grown jean labels?
We do have some homegrown labels in the store but for denim, it’s sadly a no at this point in time.
You also offer denim shirts, accessories such as beanies and socks, and leather bags, belts and wallets. How do you go about choosing the right labels to accompany the high-quality jeans?
The store was born out of a love for quality so it feels only natural that anything else that we carry should be built on that same love too. For instance, we carry handmade leather belts and wallets from a young guy in Colorado who stands by his product with a lifetime guarantee. And on the other end of the scale, we have socks and beanies that were made in NZ as a way to utilise local resources and local labour.
What kind of experience can people expect when they visit your store?
With the both of us having worked in retail in the past, we prefer not to jump on our customers’ backs as soon as they walk through the door, and let you get a feel for the place and its contents first. As far as choosing jeans though, we’re here to help. It makes us happy to get somebody into a well-fitting pair of quality jeans so we do work with the customer to make sure they’re getting the right fit for their shape/size/style.
We had an artisan in residence where a young leatherworker from Katoomba used the shop as a workshop for a weekend and we’ve used to shop to hold events like the launch of our mate’s patch label. We’d like to dismantle the traditional retail space and experience, and place GSD as something that speaks to our lifestyles and community.
Also, we’re here to help you, not to force you to buy something you don’t need or that doesn’t fit – we’re not interested in that. We’re interested in sharing our love of quality denim and nice fabrics with a new audience, and we’ll do that by working with you in order to get that right fit.
And if you want to just come in and have a chat, then that’s cool too.
You can find Great Southern Denim Co. at 297 Enmore Rd, Marrickville, NSW 2204