The Among Equals collection is a range of urban streetwear for men. It’s inspired by the sneaker and skate subcultures of New Zealand, as well as the rise of urban design in mainstream retail brands. The range features longline tees, bomber jackets and fleeces, as well as drop crotch pants.
Tupara, who owns New Zealand sneaker store Sole Merchants, was brought on as creative consultant for to make sure the range felt authentic.He was involved in the entire process from inception to launch.
New Zealand country manager Mark Singleton previously told The Register the brand was proud to have partnered with Tupara on the range. “We have trialled the range in select Cotton On stores across New Zealand and it has performed really well," he said. "We’ve also presented it to our other markets during range review and the feedback has been really positive so we are confident it will do incredibly well in these regions also.”
The range is now available online and in 12 of Cotton On’s 18 international markets worldwide, including New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the United States.
We had a chat with Tupara about what it’s like to work with a global fast fashion giant on a clothing line inspired by Kiwi style. This is what he had to say.
What did Cotton On want to achieve, or what was the brief given to you?
Among equals is Cotton On’s first urban streetwear range and came out of conversations between myself and Cotton On around sneaker and street culture in New Zealand. We wanted to cater to this customer and deliver an authentic range at an affordable price point, helping our fashion conscious customers access premium urban products to match their sought-after kicks. I’ve been involved in the streetwear community for a long time, which is why I think I appealed to the brand.
Have you had any experience in designing clothing before?
I count myself lucky to have grown up in the ‘90s when urban fashion and culture really gained traction. At the time, my influences were very much the same locally as they were state side - sports, music, and fashion. Fashion in particular became a passion for me which lead me to complete a Fashion and Design degree in the early 2000s. I then went on to design and construct my own ranges under various labels.
How did you find the experience (collaborating with Cotton On)?
Working with the various teams within Cotton On has been a great experience. Their passion and talent is at the highest level, and inspires you to keep pushing forward and challenging yourself, but with the focus of ensuring you are staying true to the brief, company values and most importantly, the consumer. This is very much a journey that I am proud to be a part of and we cannot wait to reveal more of what's to come.
Cotton On is very much a global brand, while you’ve got a more localised perspective on New Zealand street style. What kind of inspiration did you bring to the table? Did you look to friends, your own store Sole Merchants, or other clothing labels leading the way?
During the development of among equals, the team took inspiration from around the world where we travelled regularly to urban hubs outside of New Zealand such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, LA and NY to gauge what was happening in stores and on the street. We also spent time within the urban fashion and sneaker circles locally and abroad listening to what people had to say.
The press release talks about "the rise of urban design influences across luxury and high street brands”. Do you want to expand on that? Do you think streetwear is infiltrating both luxe and high street brands in New Zealand now?
The relationship between luxury high street brands, and urban culture has been present since the '90s. What are seeing more of now is the influence of this relationships crossing over. Luxe brands are talking to the urban customer and the urban independent brands are becoming "hype" and sought after. I feel NZ street brands have owned this aesthetic since way back and have helped elevate this look globally to what it is now.