Meet the cult-favourite denim brand born and bred in Melbourne


Words by Tiffany Forbes

Home grown, baby.

When I think of Fitzroy, I think of colourful industrial walls laden with contemporary graffiti. I think of tiny apartments that err on the side of being greenhouses, thanks to excessive amounts of indoor plants.

I think of hipsters on bikes and streets filled with vegan cafes by day, and quirky bars by night. But what I don’t picture within the inner-city Melbourne suburb is a full-on denim warehouse, completely dedicated to local manufacturing. 

If you’ve ever set foot in Universal Store, General Pants or David Jones, it’s likely you’re familiar with the brand Nobody Denim. To an outsider, its denim jeans, shorts, skirts and jackets look like any other, but under the seams lies a rich history of Melbourne-made roots, from its very inception to its prized-place hanging on a rack near you. 

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When I first called to ask the brand’s co-founder John Condilis about his motivations around keeping manufacturing on-shore (despite many industry competitors doing the opposite) I was met with a chuckle. “I’m a control freak. It’s as simple as that,” he explained, later adding that “transparency [was] very important to [him]”.

Although it started off in 1999 outsourcing locally in Brunswick and Fitzroy, the end of 2010 marked a new chapter for Nobody Denim when it made the leap to manufacturing in-house.

“I remember thinking, ‘Let’s take control of the whole supply chain, make sure it’s compliant, it’s transparent and it’s ethical’. In 2014, we kept growing and we decided to keep our [factory] in Fitzroy and move our manufacturing and design facility over to Thornbury,” John told me. 

The brand’s factory, now known as the Denim Laundry, is its brand DNA and as John described it is “where all the magic happens”. As a consumer, it’s always heartening to see the words Australian-made on garments, as it is often hard to come by in the present era of globalisation.

In the past, a garment’s price point was a huge focus for brands, but now garment value – whether this is its quality, the ethics behind its manufacturing or even the materials used – is slowly making its way to the forefront. “Today it’s more around the value, it’s about the proposition of Australian-made… I think there’s a real big push around that space,” John explained. 

When it comes to trends and remaining on the ball, being on-shore makes all the difference. Typical off-shore lead times can take up to three to four months, whereas Nobody Denim can turn around new styles to customers in just three weeks, provided it has the fabric and an existing product of a similar fit. 

“If you look at the retail space/online space, everyone’s playing with a crystal ball. When you’re purchasing a product, you base it on what you believe is a trend. It’s directed through media, influencers, the runways because they are influencing the trend and you’re taking your interpretation of the trend,” he said.

“When you put it to market, you never know how it’s going to sell until it actually gets there. If there’s gaps or it actually hasn’t hit the market, you need to always consider ‘What can we do?’. It’s about that quick turnaround and being agile and responsive. That’s a big focus for us.”

If you’re interested in seeing how it’s all done for yourself, this Saturday as part of Melbourne Fashion Festival you can tour Nobody Denim’s laundry in Fitzroy and learn more about what goes into the making of those mum jeans you copped last week. 

View Nobody Denim’s online range here and grab tickets for the laundry tour here

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