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How Australian label Iordanes Spyridon Gogos is redefining what it means to be a designer

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOE BRENNAN
WORDS BY CAIT EMMA BURKE

“Constantly being open to completely undoing my own practice to allow for others to partake and contribute has allowed me to grow so much.”

Iordanes Spyridon Gogos is an Australian label you’ve probably been hearing a lot about lately, and with good reason. Founded by Parsons educated designer and multidisciplinary artist Jordan Gogos in 2019, the label’s jubilant debut show was undoubtedly the highlight of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) last month, both for in-person attendees and those viewing at home.

As a diverse array of models hit the runway in theatrical and vibrantly coloured patchwork looks, it was impossible to not get swept up in the infectiously joyous energy of it all. But beyond the visual extravaganza it provided viewers, the show was representative of the brand and Jordan’s two core tenets: collaboration and community.


Keep up to date with ethical designers over at our Fashion section. 


The show was the result of his collaborations with 25 different artists, and it’s this approach to creating that feeds into everything Jordan does. Marie Claire’s features writer Courtney Thompson described the success of the show as “a testament to Gogos’ ability to bring people together and create moments of joy”, which hits the nail on the head, really.

We spoke to the up-and-coming designer about his range of ‘wearables’, his drive to bring people and practices from outside the mainstream into fashion spaces, and why it’s time for some big structural changes in the Australian fashion industry.

Tell us about you. What’s your fashion background?

I’m a multidisciplinary designer (sometimes I say artist?), 26 years old; Libra Sun, Gemini Moon and Aquarius Rising (all air). My job title will always be in a constant state of flux because designer *technically* speaking, means, someone who plans for things to be made or produced. This is sometimes the case, but more often than not I respond to an idea and actualise that from start to finish, including exploring how and where it exists in the world (as a video, in a store, on the internet, in a home/gallery) and see how the world responds and where it actually ends up. One thing leads to something completely unrelated or spontaneous and that keeps me on my toes.

When I was at Parsons studying denim, I had no pattern making skills so everything I was making was literally fabric with grommets in it so every time it was restyled or whatever or whoever’s body it was on, it was able to be worn. Furniture is fashion, fashion is furniture – literally, as a designer what you’re putting out into the world essentially becomes fashion in some sense; you’re creating something that prescribes meaning, reacts to and commentates on the “now”. I’m essentially saying that not only do designers make new things, half the job is telling people what it is that you’ve created and how to use it.

If I produce something obscure and just say “Look what I made!”, I don’t think people would be all that engaged. People want to hear what I think of it and how I’d intend to use it, and where/who I assume should buy it. If I cut a hole into the top of my metal tables and called it a skirt, whether or not it was functional, people would have defined it as fashion. I’ve been making wearables since 2019, and prior to that majored in textile art/objects at UNSW since 2015 (but I never defined it as wearables or clothing).

How did the label get started? Talk us through the process and the challenges. 

The label was activated when I had a logo and a brand name. I originally was making hand-drawn tags of my Gogos logo and sewing it onto pieces. But the practice was so different I had to diverge into a new space to distinguish the two. So I called it ‘Jordan Gogos’ and in a square format, put letters of my name in random boxes, made a GIF and posted it on Instagram and said “Introducing my new wearable brand” with no context of the pieces I was making for weeks.

After sinking my teeth into the brand’s identity I realised that something as straightforward as my Anglo-Saxon name didn’t project the complexities or curiosity that the pieces were evoking from people. I’ve always been intrigued by the nature of people not being able to pronounce the name of a brand unless you have heard it from the mouth of the designer themselves or through word of mouth… seeing people literally care enough to correct you on the correct pronunciation. I remember when Maroske Peech started – no one knew how to pronounce it, and now it’s a household name.

So Iordanes Spyridon Gogos, it’s my full name in Greek. I asked my best friend Brittany Wyper to make the logo with no input from me other than it needs to be able to fit into a square. I made a Trojan horse out of cardboard, photographed it with my iPhone and made it 3D on photoshop and had my secondary logo and, without knowing, the pillar of the brand now. It’s so interesting how as a maker putting a logo on what you create, really in simple terms, making branded art, takes you into new spaces.

What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has this evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now? 

I knew that furniture didn’t have the same buzz as clothing. I only, for the first time in my life, after years of renting and moving in/out of places got a couch and dining set. But, I have always bought a tee or jacket from a brand that I have close proximity to. So, I felt like it was exciting to know that if I literally apply what I was already doing with metal to fabric that my practice could expand into… a whole new world. After watching Australia from afar being overseas, I realised the whole world was moving but Sydney, in particular, had some things missing. I wanted to be less of a gatekeeper and more open to producing things with different people. I wanted to evoke a reaction to get people thinking and see something changing in fashion around them.

I literally can’t walk into a space with a painted shirt without receiving a compliment or (comment?) If you do, let me know, but that said something to me quite loudly. So in essence, if I took this mundane and really quite simple thing of painting on a shirt and went even crazier with it – how are people going to respond? And I guess that response has continually evolved because even after a year of the brand moving along, people now aren’t so shocked and it’s quite familiar to them. Putting something new into the market – anything – the most ‘basic’ idea into the world, if you do it often enough, with the same passion day-in-day-out, people feel that and that once ‘basic’ idea becomes actually quite meaningful, noticed and applauded.

What are you most proud of in your work on your label? 

‘Trojan horsing’ so many people and practices that exist well outside of fashion or mainstream spaces into the industry. Australians easily forget that there is a whole congested international market to be competitive with. Working together, and introducing the unfamiliar is much louder than working with the same mould and the same infrastructures of previous seasons. Constantly being open to completely undoing my own practice to allow for others to partake and contribute has allowed me to grow so much. The pieces I made in the first couple of weeks developing the AAFW collection were, to say the least… so uninspired. I really couldn’t see that until I had the input and energy of so many others in my studio.

What do you wish you knew when you started? 

Selling a piece and making a profit originally was what I thought was the lineage of my ‘success’. But now I’ve realised that making a brand work in your own way is the key. I always think of imaginary value: let’s say I sold ten pieces and make $1300 profit or, alternatively, I choose to invest my time in doing a creative project that makes no money but leads to a future commercial partnership that pays $20,000 for having my ethos of design aligned with their brand or Iordanes Spyridon Gogos itself, [my brand has] increased value in just accessing spaces to make bigger and better things.

I just wish I could understand that you can make up your own value of things from earlier on so I wouldn’t feel so confused as to why I felt like the patterns of my making were output > output > output > output < input. I know now that output actually has value even if it’s not a transaction going into my bank account – persistence and authorship of your own work is key!

What about the Australian fashion industry needs to change?

Infrastructure for emerging talent: When you scroll through Ssense and see so many new and exciting brands, you can almost bet that they’re a recipient of LVMH/CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. Having ‘talent’ or brand features on major platforms does not directly correlate to having pieces on a shelf ready to sell. Luckily I work with so many different boutiques that accommodate for my unconventionality. We need to see government investments that acknowledge the value of art and fashion in boosting our economy but also corporate companies/media to create corporate partnerships that will benefit new makers. The industry has tunnel vision and each person is so focused on their micro day-to-day that the mutual beneficiary of supporting others goes unnoticed. Things like mentoring designers about what is a line sheet, the difference between campaigns and look books (and the scheduling of each to accompany buyers/press), wash/garment care labels.

Sharing/distribution of resources and transparency: Three weeks into making, Singer provided me with an Industrial Zigzag machine. That one machine was used by 25 artists/designers. With over 90 brands on this year’s schedule, that is a lot of access to machinery that could be offered out when not in use. The idea of ‘ownership’ within art needs to be abolished and discarded or unused materials, threads need to be shared, not thrown away or put in storage. Brands need to be far more open and transparent about the volume of material they’re purchasing and how much (in weight) didn’t end up on the rack.

Being transparent does not make you a target, it allows for people to comprehend the effects of what they’re purchasing and can help keep everyone accountable but also build trust within a brand. Gone are the days where people aren’t educated about fashion, and the focus isn’t on what we see in front of us but rather what we can’t see: who made this piece in COVID? Was that person’s health compromised? Does this piece create micro-plastics? Does this brand support/donate to the minority groups that it profits from by having their face on their brand?

Re-orientating casting procedures: Asking talent questions about who they feel like is missing next to them is not only important, it’s key to ensuring they feel safe and well represented (which in turn makes the campaign so much more effective and real). Indigenous people not only deserve a space on a runway or in campaigns, they are the space; first and foremost and we need to see way more Indigenous people in decision-making positions.

Dream Australian collaborators? 

When I’m thinking of the future and wearable collaborations, my mind goes to what brands are best producing in Australia and have production/design facilities that will expand my own practice and make the collaboration unique or exciting from a commercial aspect. I’m more interested in working with brands with an aesthetic or feel that is completely and totally out of my realm because that complete difference in what we do would be such a unique middle ground. That being said, a few brands that come to mind for different reasons such as being Australian made, sustainability/innovation and tailoring include Alex Perry, Outland denim, Ksubi, R.M. Williams, Country Road, Cue and M.J. Bale.

You can find Iordanes Spyridon Gogos here and here.

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