Last week, 2threads sent me behind the scenes on a fashion shoot in the heart of Newtown with Sydney label Monkey and The BrownMan. I took way too many photos of the photographer taking photos, assisted where possible and then wrote an article about it afterward for the 2threads site. Now, I'm reposting it here, because I'm not feeling very creative today. Summary enough? Yes, I think so. Article follows:
What does Monkey and the BrownMan mean? A fair enquiry, one might think, given the obscurity of the brand name. “Well, that is a good question” agreed Stacey Brown, Creative Director of the label, illusively. Entertainingly, this was, more or less, the end of the conversation. Further investigation was met with similarly ambiguous replies. So, whilst the meaning of it all remains a secret for now, shared between Stacey and her partner in life and business Chris Brown, I can tell you what they do. Monkey and the BrownMan design simple, comfortable and attractive T-shirts using high quality, certified organic cotton. Even better, it’s all ethically sourced and locally manufactured. An avid surfer, and often disposed to wearing his own designs, it seems Chris begun the business designing with himself in mind. Luckily for us, he’s a man with taste and his T-shirts echo the desires of many. In fact, there's a whole jungle of surfing, stylish ladies and gentlemen out there vying for Monkey and the Brownman’s limited edition wares.
However, Monkey and the BrownMan is much more than just another T-shirt brand. Chris and Stacey are personable, lively creatures whose inspirations and interests are as varied as there are colours in the spectrum. Stacey enthusiastically recounts to us a recent venture to Paris, where she completed a month long design course. Meanwhile, when Chris starts raving about the ‘amazing’ film he recently watched called Death Race 2000, I would be lying if I said there weren’t a few giggles in the room. The film is set in the year 2000, which, by ‘70s standards, roughly translates to lots of people (one of which is none other than Sylvester Stallone) in fantastical black leather jumpsuits and some very low fi graphics. The title is pretty self explanatory; the plot revolves around a transcontinental race in which contestants kill people for points. Frankenstein (David Carradine) apparently exclaims at one point: "You want to make love to me because I drive the Monster and wear this costume". Sounds pretty unbelievable, right? This being typical of the kind of entertainment Chris and Stacey enjoy in their downtime, it’s clear that they’re not the types to be swept up by the latest trends or blockbusters. This may serve as an analogy for their work; Monkey and the BrownMan is a label content to do it’s own thing, regardless of what’s in Vogue.
It was glaringly obvious, whilst assisting on their most recent shoot, why Monkey and the BrownMan are so quickly gaining popularity; not only down under, but on the overseas market as well. Unusually for a fashion shoot, there was no chaos, no skeletons sipping on Diet Coke and no sleazy photographer (in fact, it was suggested by talented photographer Brad Mawby that I was the sleazy one, due to my apparently overzealous adjusting of the model’s clothing). Rather, the rail of T-shirts was wheeled by Stacey and I through the backstreets of Newtown to an old church where the model, Khan Porter, unzipped his bag to reveal a collection of his jeans from home. Whilst the direction of the shoot was crystal, all input was invited, and even Khan steered the shoot on several occasions. Stacey and I took turns holding the reflector whilst Brad snapped away. Afterwards, large lunches were consumed in a cafe downstairs from Monkey and the BrownMan's base and Khan revealed his unhealthy appetite and penchant for real Coke - whilst I sipped on my Diet Coke.
The team at Monkey and the BrownMan have their client base very clearly in mind: A client base that Khan embodied perfectly. They’re also intent on staying true to that client base who, likewise, seem devoted to the brand (and who wouldn’t be?), because, whilst there might be some obscurity when it comes to their brand name, there’s no uncertainty as to what Monkey and the BrownMan do and there are certainly no skeletons in their closet when it comes to sourcing and manufacturing. Though, speaking of skeletons, a little birdy on site told me that there might be a horror film of their own, with models clad in Monkey and the BrownMan apparel, in the works.
For more behind the scenes shots, check out the album here.
You can purchase and browse Monkey and the BrownMan's awesomeness here.
You can see Brad's work here and to book Khan, find him here.