Collaborations are seldom surprising these days, which is why Driza-Bone creative director Justin O’Shea thought supersized — literally — when he had the chance to bring a new partner into the Australian heritage brand’s universe. Just when we thought we’d seen it everything, a murdered out Mack Truck Super-Liner arrives, making your typical Greyhound bus look like a weak Smart Car in contrast.
“I grew up in a mining community, so trucks were obviously a big part of my upbringing,” O’Shea tells me over the phone. “When I was thinking about the idea of what I can do to collaborate and do some interesting projects with the brand, it was like, well, which others share a similar story or a similar purpose?” Fashion is having a moment with big fast machines right now, and when selecting a date for a seasoned Aussie outdoor veteran like Driza-Bone, it’s difficult to think of a greater fit than the country’s most robust and roughest automotive firm.
Mack Trucks are a global emblem of pure heavy metal – monstrous vehicles brimming with torque and horsepower that have grabbed the imaginations of people all around the world.JAY-Z bragged on Watch The Throne blockbuster “HAM,” “I played chicken with a Mack Truck,” while rap’s greatest weirdo, Kool Keith, paid tribute on his hilariously strange 2001 album, Spankmaster. “You see Kanye in Wyoming with his space-age trucks and shit. It’s all these big rigs and heavy brutalist machinery,” says O’Shea. “I feel that’s a vibe at the moment. I wanted people to get excited by the sheer scale of it.”
Driza-Bone was popular among London cool kids (including a certain Kate Moss) as well as cowboys in the Outback in the 1980s.
There’s a rich history to be uncovered here, founded in 1898 and worn by the very men who created Australia’s motorways (a clever nod to the truck).
But, having worked as the buying director at e-commerce behemoth Mytheresa before moving on to Brioni and then his self-funded label SSS World Corp, O’Shea has been in the industry long enough to know that resurrection tales may seem a little hollow when they lack a modern wow factor.
“The biggest challenge for me is how much from the past can I bring back, considering the modern consumer doesn’t know and probably doesn’t care,” he explains. “Bringing in made in Australia outside stuff that fits into a similar rough and hard-wearing ideal is an interesting way of doing so.”
The epidemic has been difficult for expats all around the world, particularly for Australians in Europe who have been unable to come home due to exorbitantly cost airfares and rigorous quarantine regulations. O’Shea has been running his new employment out of Germany, which, although tough, hasn’t stopped him from striking wholesale deals with retailers such as Selfridges.
It’s a nice fit since, in case you didn’t know, Britain gets a lot of rain. The recent crossover success of Barbour demonstrates that there is a demand for tough utilitarian clothing that goes beyond crofters, though O’Shea — who now lives on a farm near Munich with his family — isn’t concerned with breaking the mold.
“I’m not looking to challenge the status quo,” he says. “I see a functionality and purpose for this brand, which is to make a great product that has a place in people’s wardrobes. Not every brand is meant to collaborate with Prada or Nike. Instead of trying to jump on the back of everything, which is obviously popular in street culture, I just want to play in our space.”