SABA started out in Melbourne’s Flinders Lane as The Joseph Saba Shirt Shop, way back in 1965. Since then the brand has become embedded into the Australian fashion scene, with stores across the country and a reputation for designing clean-cut pieces that are both sophisticated and contemporary.
Fashionising were pleased to interview Peter, head menswear designer at SABA, to find out more about the brand and about his advice to upcoming designers.
Q. How did you get involved in the SABA brand and how long have you been working for SABA?
A. I started designing SABA in 2003… Originally in the Melbourne studio before Apparel Group acquired the brand in 2005 and invited me to move to Sydney.
Q. Describe a typical day in your life? What does your work schedule usually entail?
A. No day is really typical in design… that’s what I love about it. But generally my day is split between three areas of the business. When it comes to my short-term focus, I look at current sales figures, visual merchandising issues and communicating with the stores via product knowledge presentations. The mid-term involves fittings and sign off of lab dips and textile developments… this is an on-going part of every day. And the third component involves the long-term outlook, that involves travelling to exciting places, sourcing new materials, sketching or presenting my design vision for future ranges. I got back from a big international trip two weeks ago and next week I am going to Hong Kong and Shanghai… At the moment I am designing Summer 07.
Q. SABA is renowned for maintaining a balance between sophisticated yet contemporary designs. From where do you draw your inspiration?
A. SABA draws inspiration from many places, with a heritage of over forty years a lot of inspiration comes from the history behind the brand. Each season we create a departure point by travelling to an unexpected destination… the designers explore a new city and this creates alignment between men’s and women’s and also gives us a unique position in the market. For this winter we travelled to Copenhagen and most recently Berlin for its modern edge and vibrant creative culture.
Q. What do you predict to be the 2007 Autumn/Winter trends for men?
A. Heaps of split necks in knitwear. Stripes, textures for men in the cardigan and the return of classic handsome tailoring. The trench coat and the urban cord suit coat worn with jeans or as a full suit… it is an exciting time right now for men’s fashion…
Q. We’re seeing a re-emergence of trends for men such as boots and slim cuts. Do you think they are taking their influences from recent women’s fashion or from trends of yesteryear perhaps as far back as the Georgian era?
A. Fashion is always inspired by the past… it is never one era… what is exciting and new is the way we re-contextualise periods with new innovation in textiles, and consideration on print and colour combinations. Nothing is ever totally new but we fall in love the familiar blended with the unfamiliar.
Q. In recent times we’ve been seeing a lot more available in terms of denim for men, especially with skinny jeans, what do you think we can look forward to in terms of cuts for guys?
A. Silhouette trends in menswear tend to last longer than one season so I can’t see skinny slowing down for a while, but it is never only about just one look. So while the skinny is big, we will continue to see heaps of loose-fit, bootleg plus super dark finishes and waxed coating on denim.
Q. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the Australian fashion industry today?
A. It is not very common to hear environmental issues and fashion in the same sentence but sooner or later we will have to face the reality of the effect of fashion on the supply of limited resources… oil in particular; this will impact not only the manufacturing but also the distribution for brands in Australia and all over the world. Fashion will have to change…
Q. What advice would you give to upcoming designers?
A. Strong designers use their third eye… you have to imagine something that does not exist and then turn it into a reality… to do this you will always require the co-operation of others… focus on building communication skills and be humble, do things that challenge you… speaking in public, sketching, what ever that is… trust your creative instinct… every year you learn new things in fashion but you never really know it all because fashion is constantly changing.