loading
drag

Experimental Australian label Dirt finds inspiration in unexpected places

IMAGE VIA @DIRT_XOXO/INSTAGRAM

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“As we’ve grown, the name has held true to what our brand is all about… not being afraid to experiment and get a little messy.”

Beyond the utility trend and Christina Aguilera’s iconic 2002 hit ‘Dirrty’, ‘dirt’ is not often a word associated with the fashion space. We like curated grunge, ‘undone’ scruffiness and smudged eyeshadow, but dirt? Not so much. Following a year of pastel-saturated ‘regencycore’ and ‘cottagecore’ fashion, there’s something so refreshing about a label that’s not afraid to get a little messy.

Balinese-Australian footwear label Dirt has always found inspiration in the most unconventional of places. Founded by friends Sarah and Andrea, Dirt was created after the duo just couldn’t find the right pair of platform sandals. “Beyond making shoes we both wanted for our personal collections, we didn’t have any expectations,” Sarah and Andrea explain.


Looking for more fashion news and features? Head to our Fashion section.


After mastering the art of the early 2000s-inspired platform sandal, the pair continued to experiment with colourful, offbeat footwear designs. Crafting everything with a small-scale, sustainable manufacturing company in their now-home of Bali, Sarah and Andrea describe Dirt as “one big experiment”. The label’s colourful collection is a reminder to never take yourself (or your shoewear collection) too seriously.

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

Sarah and Andrea: Dirt is made up of two 27-year-old friends – Sarah from Western Australia and Andrea, who was born in Bali and grew up between Indonesia and Sweden. The two of us, both now living in Bali, found each other through mutual friends and together dreamt up the vision of Dirt. Despite our lack of formal education in fashion or design, we’ve been drawn to the fashion space for as long as we can remember. Starting a brand was a long-time dream for both of us.

S: The area I grew up in Western Australia was located quite far outside of the city centre. I didn’t visit high-street shops very often, so I curated my wardrobe through purchases from nearby op shops. Finding unique, one-off items enabled me to be creative with my outfits and play around with different aesthetics. Anyone can wear anything as long as they wear it with confidence. That perspective still informs my personal style today.

A: Growing up, my parents owned a garment business and in the early 2000s, my mum ran her own clothing line. I remember being fascinated by the creative process; I loved spending time at the factory and watching pieces being brought to life. I like to think that’s when my interest in fashion first began.

After high school, I spent a year studying art in London. It was at this time I experienced true, honest expression through fashion and design. Being immersed in that environment really propelled me to explore and experiment with my own personal style.

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

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by DIRT (@dirt_xoxo)


S and A: Our first shoe, the S1 sandal, was created because we couldn’t find anything like it on the market. Beyond making shoes we both wanted for our personal collections, we didn’t have any expectations. The vision for Dirt continues to evolve and the direction we see ourselves heading in the future is totally different from where we’ve started.

Our focus remains concentrated on footwear, but we don’t want to limit our identity in any way. Our next collection will be the first to feature some new, exciting pieces that go past the realm of shoewear – keep your eyes peeled! Beyond continuing to explore and redefine our offerings, one of our intentions going forward is to cultivate relationships with like-minded creatives… we’re excited to make more connections and grow our community in the coming years.

What are you trying to communicate through the brand now?

S and A: We hope to encourage people to experiment with their personal style. There’s a lot of pressure in the fashion space to conform to trends and wear what others are wearing – but we think it shouldn’t be too serious. For us, it’s all about experimenting with new things and playing with interesting textures and colours.

Beyond that, we don’t think you should have to compromise on comfort when exploring new styles. Especially in the footwear space – experimental and inimitable styles can be limiting with regards to their functionality or comfortability. When designing a collection, we put a lot of time into making sure our pieces are very wearable while still visually interesting.

How would you describe Dirt to someone who’s never seen it before?

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by DIRT (@dirt_xoxo)


S and A: Dirt is an offbeat, energetic brand that finds inspiration in unsuspecting places. Dirt makes functional, versatile pieces that experiment with novel texture, shape and colour juxtapositions. With a late ’90s and early 2000s flair, Dirt’s laidback, exploratory nature emerges through the use of bold primary hues, signature details, nostalgic shapes and candid styling.

Where did the name come from?

S and A: The name came up organically in conversation. We liked the way it sounded and the energy it gave – simple, curt, but still intriguing. We often seek inspiration from unconventional sources, and the name Dirt is a reflection of that. As we’ve grown, the name has held true to what our brand is all about… not being afraid to experiment and get a little messy.

What do you wish you knew when you started?

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by DIRT (@dirt_xoxo)


S and A: In terms of our personal strengths, we’re both more creative than analytical or logical. The parts of owning a brand we love most are playing with ideas for launches, shoots and designs. Unfortunately, that’s not all it takes to run a business – so we’ve had to learn new skills on the operations end of things. Having that foundation would’ve definitely been useful, but we’ve managed to figure it out as we go.

Since starting, we’ve both learned so much about what it takes to run a small business, and we’re continuously learning new things along the way. It’s all one big experiment… reminding ourselves of that has helped to ease the pressure of not having it all figured out.

Who do you think is most exciting in Australian fashion right now?

S and A: We’re continually excited by Laura and Deanna Fanning! The work they are doing is unlike any other designer at the moment; we’re really drawn to and inspired by their use of colour and print. Dion Lee and Christopher Esber are also both at the top of the list. There are also so many incredibly talented emerging designers out of Australia doing really exciting work. Some of our favourites include Emily Watson and Maroske Peech.

Dream Australian collaborators?

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by DIRT (@dirt_xoxo)


S and A: We’re both absolutely obsessed with Jamie-Maree Shipton. She’s an Australian director, stylist and creative consultant based in London. Such a talent! Her work is so inspiring and creative, it would be an absolute dream to work with her one day.

Who is in your wardrobe right now?

S: I’ve been a secondhand shopper my entire life. It’s just something I’ve always loved to do… it still takes up a large part of my wardrobe to this day. Beyond that, I’ve been eyeing a few pieces from Romantics and Oats, which are both independent labels from Melbourne.

A: The climate here can get super hot and humid, so most of the time you’ll just find us in something loose and comfortable. Although I recently purchased a long-sleeved mesh top from one of my favourites, London-based designer Charlotte Knowles. Isa Boulder is another big fave. Her knitwear is incredible and handmade here in Bali.

How can we buy one of your pieces?

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by DIRT (@dirt_xoxo)


S and A: You can shop our pieces at our online store or via one of our stockists. In Australia, you can find us in-store at Suku Home in Melbourne or Blonde Concept in Canberra!

Anything else to add?

S and A: Keep your eyes peeled for some new stuff coming soon! Big thanks to Fashion Journal for having us.

Explore the Dirt collection here.

Lazy Loading