What started off as a bet over beer, two friends/designers – Leith Testoni and Jonathon Yeo – both felt they could design the better shirt. Now, 11 years later, the game evolved into a complete menswear line that can be found in over 300 stores globally. The Australian-based brand aims to bridge the gap between youthful streetwear apparel and mature menswear clothing by creating items that are clean, sophisticated, and progressive. Famous for their bottoms, a mixture of slim fitting chinos and comfortable harem pants, ZANEROBE also offers a complete collection of printed button-downs, graphic tees, swim trunks, knitted sweaters, and various jackets. All of which are designed to reflect a culture of fashion-conscious males who want to make sure their style is always on point.
ZANEROBE steers clear of womenswear, it narrows its focus on only creating forward-thinking menswear clothing, “leaving nothing to chance in the pursuit of quality.” Created and designed in Sydney, Australia, the line’s down under lifestyle of surfing, partying, and travel, naturally mirrors familiar Southern California culture. They just recently set up shop at the California Market Center, and that’s where LAC caught up with Dan, formerly their Canadian distributor and now their North American brand manager, to tell us more about the clothing line that’s winning over L.A.
You’ve been in L.A. for over a year, how do you like it?
I love it. It’s been good. I’ve found that if you apply yourself in the U.S. market, more specifically in places like downtown Los Angeles, if you’re just a really good person, a really hard worker, and you have a really good product that stands out, the doors really open.
Do you think you’ve got the feel of L.A. already?
Definitely. I’m fortunate enough to meet great people in the downtown area, but I got some friends in Venice and in certain other areas. I find that quickly in L.A. you get your bearings in areas that you relate to. You need to be open when you move to a new city, you need to allow yourself to meet new people, be yourself, and you’re going to find that you will relate to one area more than another.
Do you think this brand from Australia relates to L.A. somehow?
It does. That was why they brought me down here. I was more aware of what was happening in North America as a whole. I would come down here every two weeks anyways. I got familiar with L.A. and the U.S. as a whole.
Does the brand bring something fresh to L.A.?
Yeah, we do. Our brand is really about the lifestyle of ZANEROBE. I think we’re doing something special, but more importantly I think the people behind our brand are really passionate and we’re finding that also in our loyal customers. If you have a brand that can relate to a very specific group or a very diverse group of people, they will buy into that lifestyle. Same thing with music.
Yeah, music and fashion complement one another. What do you think is the soundtrack to ZANEROBE?
We have such an eclectic sound. Our Sydney office loves house, guys like Soul Clap.
And at this office?
Kedrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, J.Rocc, a lot of west coast stuff. Me specifically, Passion Pit, Edward Sharpe, and Drake.
The brand started off as a bet between two guys to see who can design the best shirt. Does that brand still have that competitive spirit?
I think we’re all competitive. It’s a healthy competition, and we’re all really good friends. There is a team of about ten who are running this brand. We all carry a lot on our shoulders. With the amount of pressure that we have we need to keep it healthy. There’s competition between the U.S. market and the Australian market, but it’s fun.
Do you feel you’re competitive with other brands?
There are some amazing brands doing incredible stuff and we take inspirations from what they’re doing, not necessarily design-wise, but we take inspiration from other creative people. That being said, we also see other brands taking inspiration from us and kind of knocking us off. That’s fine. That’s flattering in our opinion.
What kind of guys do you see wearing your clothes?
Our guys are so diverse. We have the hipster kids, we got the urban crowd, we have the guys who are wearing certain streetwear brands but now they’re grown up and they want to have a mature silhouette that isn’t so baggy. We have guys who travel a lot and they need to wear extremely comfortable clothing.
Do you think there’s a difference between streetwear and menswear?
We’re seeing things coming together but labeling is difficult.
What do you label yourselves?
We say, “street meets neat.” It’s progressive streetwear. The brand can be worn in so many ways.
So many guys are into fashion now. Where do you think menswear is at?
The philosophy right now behind menswear is really exciting. We’re seeing cool guys like A$AP Rocky being passionate about fashion. Influential tastemakers are influencing guys to step up their game and do something. Men’s fashion is going through a modern-day renaissance. If you look back, guys like The Rat Pack took pride in what they look like. Now it’s not about what you’re wearing it’s about how you wear it.
The way I see fashion, it’s an extension of someone’s personality at any given time. I also find that guys are not being put in a box. Just because you’re a stock broker doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit every day. You can express yourself through fashion and there are so many influential guys out there who are on a celebrity side of things and those who aren’t.
What’s the lifestyle of ZANEROBE?
Our lifestyle is really fun. It’s guys who don’t take life too seriously, but they’re real hard workers who are passionate about everything that they do and they want to be the best at it.
Learn more about ZANEROBE at ZANEROBE.com