Sonny and Cher, Paul and Linda, Stassi and Jax, Ann Boleyn and Henry the 8th…and now, Aussies and Angelenos. LA’s love for Australia (and vice versa) is no secret. Infact, since 2010, Oz has been the number one source of international visitors to LA—and the enthusiasm appears to be mutual. With regard to both climate and perspective, these geographically distant cousins have been on the same page for decades: which is why it’s no surprise that they often experience analogous success when it comes to retail markets.
These days, Australian lifestyle brand Insight 51 is establishing a mounting presence here in the US, even surpassing its hometown retail sales back in Sydney. The market shift is no coincidence. Insight, along with sister brand Ksubi, moved its global headquarters to Venice Beach in 2013 after falling into receivership, a government safe hold that offers struggling brands a chance to regroup without having to close doors. (In other words, a backing company enters the picture and is granted temporary custodial responsibility, allowing the brand a minute to get sorted).
Enter Bleach Group. The apparel and accessories maker is responsible for Insight’s stateside re-launch, following an aptly timed influx of cash earlier this year thanks to Los Angeles-based Breakwater, a private investment firm in Venice with historical ties to the lifestyle brand. The relationship with Bleach turned out to be a wider strategic initiative, and has since established a secure international growth platform for both Insight and Ksubi.
The California move was a smart one. Insight’s new corporate digs happen to be just down the street from their Venice flagship store, which h as been in business since 2006. And while the surf/street style line was born in Australia, its identity has always been closely linked to Southern California. Greg Morena, Bleach’s CEO grew up on the south side of Santa Monica— 26th and Santa Monica, to be exact—skating at the park and surfing the breakwater. And Mirko Antich, who’s heavily involved in Insight’s creative, grew up just south of Venice. Together with Breakwater (and the majority of its employees), these two are proud to call the Westside home. And with such strong LA ties, the small team helming the beloved brand has achieved notable success re-launching Insight and ensuring its smooth transition into, and expansion within, the US market.
Bizarrely, Insight 51’s name has almost predicted the trials and tribulations of its 20-year lifespan. “It’s like 51-49. We’re at 51%,” explains Mirko. Greg elaborates: “Think Spicoli, right? Spicoli got through high school—but he barely got through. You know, we’re lucky. We’re lucky to be in Venice and we’re lucky to have grown up here. We’re winning. We’re barely winning, but it’s a victory nonetheless.”
Through a handful of tailored initiatives like the Garage Artist Program and campaign collaborations with LA creatives, and a series of monthly events at the Venice store,Insight 51 has become a staple in the Los Angeles beachside community. “From a brand perspective, you can never deny your roots— so yeah, Insight was founded in Australia, no doubt,” Webber explains. “We also have a legitimate claim to call ourselves locals here, because were so passionate about it, and because we’re enveloped in the brand on a daily basis here in Venice.” He goes on, “You know, you have to claim your city. So that’s our intention, and that’s what we’re doing now with our designs and marketing—you’re going to see it actualize itself in the product.”
Despite having originally opened its doors in Bondi over two decades ago, it’s clear that Insight’s LA ties are here to stay. And what began as a relocation of their global headquarters has become the final step to secure what they see, not as a move, but as a homecoming.
We say: welcome home.