Basic Instinct

JoshGootPortrait
by Gabriel Bell
Set your alarms for September: Australia's current It designer, Josh Goot, will be making his North American debut at New York Fashion Week. Backed by Henri Bendel, Goot's first American line will be a hybrid of new womenswear for the U.S. market and looks featured in his Spring/Summer '06 collection. Goot couldn't be more pleased. "The buyer saw the show in Sydney and was very excited," he recounts. "It gave me a degree of assurance as I approached the U.S. market that what I was doing was relevant and different. It's always a pleasure working with people who believe in you and your work."
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A line show backed by an iconic retailer is a fitting entrée for the 26-year-old Sydney native who has already established himself as the resident party boy of an emerging generation of Australian up-and-comers. But of all his antipodean contemporaries—including rising stars such as Rebecca Davies, Mad Cortes, and Jayson Brunsdon—how has this stripling with no formal training managed to become the advance guard for young Australian design in America?
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Spring/Summer '06 womenswear collection
First off, don't confuse the sharp, sophisticated, yet somehow laddish Goot for another of fashion's enfants terribles. Only six years ago Goot was pursuing a degree in media art and production at the University of Technology Sydney. It seems that while the concepts used in commercial communication inspired him in theory, practice was another matter altogether. "I was very distracted at university," he admits. "I was more interested in partying than anything else." Stymied, Goot split school and made his way to New York. Like so many before him, a few months in Gotham was all the 20-year-old needed to
transform his life and career. "I was exposed to a certain energy there that was new and inspiring," he says. "It was infectious."
Returning home in 2000, Goot was convinced his recent education could translate into fashion. "I was switched on by the idea of media and communication and saw fashion as an extension." That year, he founded Platform Clothing, a youthful yet technically advanced approach to dressing for the modern metropolis. Instead of trying to combat the prevailing dominance of streetwear—T-shirts and roomy bottoms—with more sophisticated items, Goot applied the techniques of high-end fashions to his introductory line of casual unisex basics. The aim was to combine the ease represented by the all-cotton staples with intelligent pattern-making and bright, positive colors that would complement, not hide the body. As well, Goot was searching for a universal aesthetic, one that could withstand the scrutiny of fashion editors as well as the boys on the corner and give him an almost unlimited audience. "Tailored comfort" became his mantra and his collection of perfectly cut, lightweight, high-quality jersey T-shirts, hoodies, sport pants, and trenchcoats garnered loads of praise.
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Fall/Winter '06 menswear collection
Despite the laid-back designs he created for Platform, Goot often struggled to perfect them, his relative inexperience often coming into conflict with his high standards. "I was looking for an easy way out and thought fashion was the answer," he says. "I was wrong." In 2004 Goot accepted that the presciently titled Platform—which was always closer to a skate or hip-pop clothing label than a genuine fashion imprint— was too limiting, financially and creatively, for his ambitions. He says of his first line, "It had mixed success, but enabled me to learn a lot about the trade through experience. I became more intent on experimenting with new styles and elevating the look than catering to the market." At 24, he shuttered the brand and founded his second, signature line.
For the last few seasons, Goot has welcomed increasing levels of success as he extends the streetwear concepts developed at Platform to his new line of more adult casual women's separates, dresses, and men's active pieces. "The idea was to create wardrobe essentials usually found in woven fabrics such as blazers, trousers, pencil skirts, and trench coats, but offer them as knits." Even as he introduced clever pastels, bold solids, iridescent silver jerseys, and lightweight merino wools into the line, the emphasis has been on creating breezy but relevant utilitarian designs. Ultimately, this focus on making the best out of the basics—shimmering drawstring pants and simple, racerback tees—has been the secret to Goot's success. With limited initial know how, the designer has never had the time to bother with bells and whistles. He says, "I make the clothes that I want to wear and see others wearing. Anyone with an open mind and a sense of self will feel comfortable in them." Like any good Austrialian, Goot knows that nothing should get in the way of good times. "The clothes are built for work and play," he says. "Day and night. Do your thing."
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Available in New York at Henri Bendel, 712 Fifth Avenue, 800-423-6335, and Elizabeth Charles, 639 1/2 Hudson Street, 212-243-3201. For more information go to www.joshgoot.com.
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Fall/Winter '06 womenswear collection
Aussie It Boy Josh Goot proves simple isn't as easy as it looks.
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