The Tailored Man presents the Young Bloods series, where we find the very best emerging artists who are separating themselves from the pack and showcasing some of the finest work across multiple disciplines.
In this instalment we visit designers behind Same Silks – Emily Gillis and Sam Chirnside. When two graphic designers collaborate on a new project, you don’t usually think it will result in a boutique silk label. The Tailored Man sits down with the Same Silks duo to talk art, design and everything silk.
Could you tell us a little bit about both your backgrounds in art and design?
EG: I grew up with creative parents. My dad was in textile design, my mother was a high school art teacher and my stepdad an architect. For as long as I can remember I have had a set of fine-liners and a drawing pad. I finished school with a clear vision of wanting to become a designer so I enrolled into Monash Uni to study Bachelor of Design. I finished and began freelancing straight away and now work at Foolscap Studio.
SC: I grew up on a property in rural Victoria. I had a lot of freedom to roam & explore – nothing too much has changed, and I now apply these principles to my art practice. Throughout my school years, I always had a passion for anything creative. I have since been able to refine this down to disciplines that resonate with myself, although I never want to pinpoint myself into a corner. I also studied at Monash then went on to work for various studios both here in Melbourne & New York.
When two designers come together to create a company, an experimental boutique silk label isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. How did you guys come up with the concept?
EG: We were living together in NYC at the time and Sam was experimenting with paints for one of his album artworks. We were drinking tinnys and doing these butterfly prints one night and it just came to us. Why not make art and wear it?
SC: I guess we were both pretty likeminded in the way that we thought. Although our styles are quite different, we both share an appreciation for minimalist aesthetics when it came to fashion. We would always be saying ‘Same’ to something we liked and I guess it just organically fell in place to call our label Same Silks.
Do you both have different skill sets that allow you to work on different aspects of the label, or do you both have overlapping areas of expertise?
EG: We have a big overlap! Because we both studied Graphic Design together, there is a similarity to our skillset. We are both very involved in the actual designs/conceptual development and overseeing of the creative side of things. However, we also divide things up according to our strengths. Sam definitely is more involved in the output and finishing the art to perfection, whereas I am more involved with the moodboard and colour palette aspect.
SC: We oversee all of the process together, there are certain areas that I guess we have more trust in each other in. But we generally try to have our own input in all aspects.
Were there any steep learning curves or wildly different aspects of the fashion industry that weren’t apparent in the art/graphic design industry?
EG: Fashion is extremely fast paced and there is a lot of competition out there, which also is apparent in Graphic Design – but to a lesser degree. I think the cost involved in manufacturing samples and paying for the orders can hinder your creations with fashion. With graphic design you can create endless designs for free on the computer and just keep on going until you have a rash from your mouse.
SC: I consider Same Silk as an extension to our Individual Art & Design practices. It just happens to fall into a lot more categories now including fashion. I think understanding the principles of design & having that as a foundation has been quite important for us.
Can you delve into how you sourced your materials for Same Silks? Was there any difficulty working with a material like silk twill?
EG: I am quite familiar with fabrics as I grew up learning a lot about it from my parents (my dad being in textiles). I also studied fashion design in school and was familiar with different silks and how they move and drape, so it wasn’t too daunting. We went to a few local fabric stores in Melbourne and sent samples off to our factory. We then had samples made up on various silks before deciding on which one would be suitable.
SC: We wanted to create wearable art that would drape beautifully and contour around the human form. Silk Twill is such a soft delicate fabric that does a perfect job of this, and we’re looking into experimenting with some new materials down the track.
Same Silks seems to utilise a lot of neutral hues and softer muted tones, were these colour palettes something you were both drawn to or simply easier tones to apply to silk twill sheens?
EG: The neutral hues are something we are both drawn too. I don’t wear a lot of colour so it would be hard for me to create something completely outrageous. But I am starting to warm to colour and the idea of introducing more colour into the second range.
SC: I’m the same when it comes to what I wear. I generally wear muted & subtle colours. My artwork is a contrast to this as I am more attracted to vivid colours, so we have found a nice middle ground for our first collection.
What were the concepts and inspiration behind the patterns and designs?
EG: Nature has always been a massive inspiration for the two of us. We looked at shapes that exist which are often ignored or forgotten as they are present everywhere we look. Frenetic water, turbulent sand dunes, cloud formations etc.
SC: I think nature has been a big inspiration for both of us. I constantly see patterns within everything. Whether that be flows of ocean currents or trails left behind from worms.
Nature has always been a massive inspiration for the two of us. We looked at shapes that exist which are often ignored or forgotten as they are present everywhere we look.
With the help of platforms like Monk House Design, have you found that young aspiring labels are finding it easier to compete in the Australian fashion scene?
EG: I think it’s a hard industry to crack into. Especially when you have stores such as H&M selling scarves for $15. It’s all about dedication and staying true to your brand, and keep on moving forward. The big stores just follow, but they are always behind.
SC: I think there will always be a market for independent designers as people are constantly looking for something new & refreshing. Most major stores are just recycling or ripping off these independent designers. I don’t feel that it’s too much of an issue at this point as there will always be people who keep true to what they wear.
Quickly turning your attention back to art and design, do you think the Australian art and design industry will have an upward trend or will the best young talent continue to search overseas for more elite studio jobs?
EG: I think the Australian Art and Design industry, particularly Melbourne, is a very high standard and it is definitely on an upward trend. However, it is always valuable to travel and work abroad. Working overseas exposes you to different cultures and it gives you the opportunity to work on larger scale jobs that don’t exist in Australia. If anything, working overseas does make you appreciate the quality of work that is coming out of here.
SC: I think Australia is becoming quite a landmark for art & design. I feel that people really take the time to fine craft what they are doing here. Overseas is still where the opportunities are larger, although I’m sure in time, places like Melbourne will be just as respected as New York. The ability to work remotely is becoming easier, allowing people to work from Australia with a worldwide client list.
I think the Australian Art and Design industry, particularly Melbourne is of a very high standard and it is definitely on an upward trend.
Do you both intend on creating more collections this year for Same Silks? If so, what can we expect from the brand in the near future?
EG: We sure do. We are currently sampling our second collection. We are currently trialling a smaller scarf size, think neckerchiefs and colour!
SC: We are currently in the process of our next collection. We are going to continue to use Same Silk as an outlet for experimentation and try to push the boundaries of Art & Fashion.
Want your own Same Silks? Check out their beautiful website for more.