Shauna Toohey + Misha Hollenbach
A synthesized in between
A synthesized in between
The fantastical world of Australian fashion label Perks And Mini blurs many lines; with a product offering that ranges from the assumed clothing to the unassumed lamp in the shape of a skull and hand (in collaboration with iconic Japanese streetwear brand UNDERCOVER) and a plethora of collaborators who span from Lego to the art and music festival Berlin Atonal. Illustrations, images, patterns and words find each other on garments and accessories in an intuitive way, celebrating all the mystery and joy life has to offer. In and amongst it all are the label’s co-founders Shauna Toohey and Misha Hollenbach who possess a fluid sense of exploration, deeply rooted in a respect for community and building something better together.
“It’s never been about us. Our interest is to find the energy, the joy, the new way, the spark… that we can do with other humans.”
“We go somewhere together that we don’t go by ourselves” states Toohey, referring to the benefits of working with partner Hollenbach, “the point of the outcome isn’t to have my vision or Misha’s, it’s to have A synthesized in between.” This outlook not only exists within their internal design process, but extends beyond to the many collaborators who fold seamlessly into a shared product and idea. “P.A.M. is to be a part of something… something we like. Doesn’t matter if it is fashion, swimming, natural wine… it’s a contribution more than a collaboration in that sense. It’s also an opportunity to work with other humans and when you’re in art and design communication, you need other humans.” A sentiment Hollenbach shares, further reinforced by Toohey “we also realised how important it is for us and our practice. It’s never been about us. Our interest is to find the energy, the joy, the new way, the spark… that we can do with other humans.”
Founded in Melbourne in 2000, Perks And Mini has been afforded a freedom to unfurl without expectations. This is something Toohey believes is reflective of the label’s Australian roots “we were able to give ourselves a unique voice and identity and weren’t too influenced by trends and other people, or pressures to conform. It’s the wild west here. You just make your own world, your own thing and there’s space for that.” The couple moved to Paris 7 years ago, however have been caught in a suspended moment in Australia for the past 2 years due to COVID. Unexpectedly plunged into studying their close surroundings in Melbourne, they have developed an extra appreciation for Australian flora.
“I’m conscious that we need, as humans, to reconnect with nature. Nurture it and respect it… but we’ve lost that connection. We are thinking more about what you could need for the outdoors, it’s so important to be amongst it.” Hollenbach has been spending a lot of time out in the forest, cycling with friends and thus a great collaboration has been spawned with cycle wear brand MAAP. Along with recent releases of t-shirts bearing Photosynthesis and baseball caps with ladybird iconography, P.A.M. provides a playful reminder to appreciate our natural surroundings. “It’s more about the idea of communicating that message. That nature is everything. It’s around us. We are animals living in it and we have to love it.”
“Everything is an iteration of an iteration of an iteration and it’s getting really boring. So this puts a massive stumbling block in front of you and you have to deal first with the material, which makes a really different outcome.”
This core belief held by Hollenbach and Toohey moves further into sustainability practices, such as producing to order to avoid waste, integrating new sustainable materials (recycled cotton from EcoLife) and upcycling old stock into ‘new’ custom products. There are even talks of developing NFTs; a digital asset for sale that doesn’t require the same resources as a physical product. Sustainability shifts within the business are done mindfully to ensure they can last, much like the quality products they create. For Toohey, sustainability also presents an exciting design challenge; “Everything is an iteration of an iteration of an iteration and it’s getting really boring. So this puts a massive stumbling block in front of you and you have to deal first with the material, which makes a really different outcome.”
To invite a different outcome, stumble across something wonderful, one has to be open to all possibilities which is certainly what Toohey and Hollenbach strive for with Perks And Mini. As stated by the latter “sometimes things work and sometimes things don’t and we’re very accepting of that. Obviously we want things to work but I love this idea that we’re communicating. We are not bringing a final answer to anything ever. It's a point of view. It’s an observation.”