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Larz Harry & Aida Kim — MAN-TLE, Founders
Friends & Partners
July 28, 2020

Inspired by the rugged tactility of the Australian landscape, Japan-made, Perth-based label, MAN-TLE, produces original apparel and hardware that are designed to adapt with the wearer over time. With a focus on durability and reliability, MAN-TLE combines function and practicality with a pragmatic, egalitarian sensibility. Founded in 2016 by husband-wife team Larz Harry and Aida Kim, MAN-TLE has since expanded its business with their own bricks-and-mortar store – SHOP MAN-TLE – in Perth, serving as a mascot to the brand.

Read our interview with the duo below, where we discuss their close ties with Japan, the design ethos of MAN-TLE and what being an Australian brand means to them.

Let’s start with the origins of MAN-TLE. You launched in 2016?
AW16 was our first season (RANGE 1 / R1).

Can you explain to us a little bit about your design process?
Our ranges are all part of an ongoing collection that is growing each season. Rather than constantly dreaming up new things, we are focused on a longer term story made up of clothing that is cherished for many years. Our design work begins with our fabrics which are textural and unusual. Next we develop the colours, and lastly the shapes - although the shapes don't change much season to season. Our focus is always on producing durable garments that get better with washing and wearing. That idea informs so much of our design work.

What are your respective roles at MAN-TLE, Larz and Aida?
We design together. Then Larz develops the patterns, while Aida puts things into production.

Can you delve a bit deeper on what “Heavy Weight Clothing” means?
Heavy Weight Clothing is our company’s name, and doesn't play a role beyond that. The name MAN-TLE on the other-hand has direct reference to our products. The mantle layer is an insulating layer of high-density rock. Man + Tool, is another interesting reference for us.

We wanted to be removed from the industry we were working in, and find some clarity to develop individual products with strength. Here [Western Australia] we can do that, avoiding the noise and visual congestion of bigger cities.

What does being an Australian brand mean to you? How does it influence your brand?
Australia’s rugged, extreme landscape definitely influences our work. We see our surroundings as unique, as are the ideals of the people who live here. We are making clothing that is durable and adaptive and evolving with the wearer. 

Does being over in Western Australia amplify this even more?
We began MAN-TLE while living in Japan and made the conscious decision to come back to WA. We wanted to be removed from the industry we were working in, and find some clarity to develop individual products with strength. Here we can do that, avoiding the noise and visual congestion of bigger cities.

Can you explain your ties with Japan? Most of your production is there right?
We started MAN-TLE while living in Japan and initially shared it with our friends there. We both worked there collectively for 18 years and still have an apartment in Tokyo which comes in handy for production and sales trips. Our fabrics mostly are made in Japan, so it makes sense for us to sew there also.

Tell us about the relationships you’ve built with these mills/factories in Japan.
We develop original fabrics for most of our garments, and don’t purchase stock via traders or holding companies. The cloth we use is unique and most crucial to our product. Over the past 6 years we have built long term partnerships through which we have a deep understanding of each others businesses. We are pushing each other and enjoying innovating together. 

We recently saw your capsule with BUAISOU. The collaboration looked pretty special...
The Buaisou collection came about through a visit we made to their farm. We found a lot of similarity between their focus on process and craftsmanship and our own. It was the first in a group of collaborations with them. More to come later this year.

What did you both learn from your time at Commes, and how did you apply it to MAN-TLE?
The experience of working with the clothing and people from that brand, as well as the many brands they collaborate with and include in the realm of Dover Street Market gave us invaluable insight. We were able to formulate our own opinions on how we could do things differently and on our own terms.

How is SHOP MAN-TLE coming along? What’s it like having your own bricks-and-mortar store?
SHOP MAN-TLE is our flagship and studio in Perth. It has allowed us to put more context around our clothing with the merchandising of other clothing and homewares. It has transformed our business and given us a more direct dialogue with the public. Alongside the complete archive of MAN-TLE we sell industrialised homewares from Japan and Korea as well as clothing made by either our collaborators or friends.

Australia’s rugged, extreme landscape definitely influences our work. We see our surroundings as unique, as are the ideals of the people who live here. We are making clothing that is durable and adaptive and evolving with the wearer.

What’s next for MAN-TLE?
Recently we are reconsidering how we operate in the current climate and how we can be more resilient in such an unpredictable world. Using our time at home we have continued to question our conformity to the outdated fashion system we exist within. From R10 onwards we are moving to an entirely new way of operating that will allow shops to order more currently and reactively. It will be a more efficient transaction for everyone involved and mean we can pass on travelling so much too. For the consumer it will be a more direct interaction as well.

Shop the collection here

@mantle_official

WORDS BY PETER BAIN
IMAGES PROVIDED BY MAN-TLE
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